Travel At Home

One of the great things about living in Richmond, VA -- a city built on history (think General Robert E. Lee and the Civil War) in a state which carefully tends its place in grade-school text books for begetting four of the first five presidents (Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe) and harboring the first capital of this nation, Jamestown (just to name a few) -- is the right-outside-your-door opportunities for encounters with the past. 

A View of Washington's Monument
Belle Isle

First African Church - 1011 Main St.
Confederate Monument - Hollywood Cemetery

Granted, this is the United States we are talking about where the modern history, in terms of colonialization on, is only 400-something years deep. We don't have the same deep-root boasting power of the European continent, by far. Regardless, I love living in Richmond because if affords me the opportunity to dive into the past as far back as 1607 just a stone's throw from my home. 

"Virginia Colonization" - 1906

I am a proponent of being a tourist, or better yet, a traveler in my own city, taking a weekend to enjoy the unique history of a place, spending a slow morning people-watching in an off-the-beaten-path coffee shop, coursing the shopping promenades and buying locally-made or locally-harvested wares. If the price is right, I'll take in a museum before ending the "trip" at a restaurant I've yet to try.

The Tourist's Pocket Map of Virginia - 1835

Though I've been a resident of Richmond for 12 years, I find there is always something new to discover. Traveling in your own city is a less expensive and less daunting alternative to a true "vacation." One with similar mind opening benefits. Even if you've lived your whole life in just one city, chances are you're missing something...whether it's that old antique mall up the road, an eatery that just opened, or the birthplace of a local celeb. Just setting the intention of seeing things differently and being willing to try new things (which is the natural mind-set and expectation of a vacationer) opens you to new things.

Can't set aside a full weekend, or even a day? Just a few hours exploring your local stomping ground can give you new eyes into your city's past and an expanded appreciation for, well, everything! Walk down a street you've never tread and pop your head into each and every shop along the way or visit a local history museum. A quick google search and you're ready to hit the road. With a little more planning and prep, you could even have yourself a dandy picnic packed for enjoying amidst oaks and flowers of a grand estate garden.

A vintage postcard of The Virginia House

The images below are from my recent "trip" to The Virginia House, the hillside residence of Alexander and Virginia Weddell. (Again, 12 years living here and I, and my travel companion Nisha, had never heard of this place!) The house and gardens recently opened to the public, but by appointment only. Thanks to First Lady McDonnell and their Year of The Historic Home, we bypassed the red tape...and the entry fee! 

Mr. Weddell's study and library boasted an impressive collection of books and artifacts.

Gorgeous objects d'art filled every spare surface.

Intricately carved wood, dating to the sixteenth century, adorned the walls, staircases, furniture and accessories.

I fell in love with this place: dark wood, but full of light. The hand of the craftsman and artist was everywhere. You could get lost in the details but always find something new at every turn.

No English Tudor is complete without lead-paned windows.

I've got a bunch more pics from the The Virginia House's neighbor, the more widely-known English tudor known as Agecroft Hall, which I'll be posting next week.

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