The History of Williamsburg, Virginia

Williamsburg, Virginia, holds a special place in the history of the United States. Along with its neighbor, Jamestown, Williamsburg is one of the most historic cities in the nation.

Founded in 1607, Jamestown was the first permanent English-speaking settlement in the New World. The first form of representative government in Virginia started in Jamestown with the establishment of the House of Burgesses in 1619.

As it turns out, Jamestown wasn’t the ideal place to settle or put the capital. The seepage of salt from the briny water of the James River and Chesapeake Bay contaminated the settlement’s drinking water. Unhealthy living conditions in Jamestown caused disease, and several fires razed wooden and brick buildings in the capital.

In 1632, the fortified settlement of Middle Plantation sprung up from the wooded terrain just a few miles away. Middle Plantation ideally located on a patch of high ground five miles inland from the James and York rivers.

Moving the Capital from Jamestown to Williamsburg

Settlers changed the name of Middle Plantation to Williamsburg in 1699 to honor of King William III of England, the reigning monarch at the time. Virginia’s first college, William and Mary, also bears the name of the English king and queen. College students at William and Mary suggested moving the capital to Williamsburg after yet another fire burned through Jamestown. The House of Burgess agreed, and named Williamsburg as the capital. Williamsburg would later become the center of political events in Virginia in the years leading to the American Revolution.

Williamsburg served as the capital of the Colony and Commonwealth of Virginia from 1699 to 1780. It became one of the nation’s most important centers of learning, with Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and John Tyler graduating from William and Mary.

Williamsburg is one of the nation’s first planned cities. Governor Francis Nicholson supervised the planning of Williamsburg, laying out the “new and well-ordered” city in 1699 to make it suitable to serve as the capital of the largest and most populous British colony in America. This planning made it possible for the young city to become the center of politics, economics, society and religious life in Virginia.

City planners built the first capitol building at one end of Duke of Gloucester Street. The College of William and Mary is at the other end of the street.

Williamsburg is home to the first canal built in the United States. In 1771, Virginia’s Royal Governor began building a canal connecting the James River with the York River. The intention was to create a water bridge that would allow boats to cut through the Virginia Peninsula, but builders never completed the project. Visitors can still see remnants of the canal behind the Governor’s Palace in Colonial Williamsburg.

Williamsburg is home to the first hospital in North America devoted to caring for patients with mental illness. This innovative and forward-thinking institution admitted its first patient in 1773.

Williamsburg During the American Revolution

Williamsburg became an important city during the quest for American independence from Britain. The Gunpowder Incident began in April of 1775, for example, when Governor Dunmore and Virginia colonists fought over the gunpowder stored in the Williamsburg Magazine. Fearing another rebellion, Dunmore ordered soldiers to seize the gunpowder. Patrick Henry responded to the “theft” of the gunpowder by marching on Williamsburg. A standoff ensued; Dunmore even threatened to destroy Williamsburg if the militia attacked. Fortunately, the two parties resolved the dispute by arranging for payment for the gunpowder.

The Continental Army and French Allied Forces descended upon Williamsburg in September of 1781, as troops prepared for the siege of Yorktown, a decisive battle that led to American independence.

Following the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolutionary War broke out. The governor at the time, Thomas Jefferson, urged leaders to move the capital to Richmond. Jefferson was afraid that Williamsburg’s location made it vulnerable to a British attack. The capital moved again in 1780, this time to Richmond where it remains today. Despite losing its status as a capital city, political movers and shakers still held important conventions in Williamsburg.

Williamsburg During the Civil War

Williamsburg remained an important location in American history, especially during the Civil War. The College of William and Mary closed in 1861 for a time, as students left school to fight under the Confederate flag. The Confederate Army used the college building as barracks and later as a hospital. Union forces also used the building as a hospital.

Combat came to the area in May 1862 with the Battle of Williamsburg, which took place in York County, James City County and Williamsburg, Virginia. The clash was the first large battlefield encounter between Confederate and Union forces during the Peninsula Campaign, which was an important part of the American Civil War. The Confederates held off Union soldiers long enough for retreating troops to make it back to Richmond.

When the capital moved to Richmond, Williamsburg turned into a quiet college town and county seat. Many see the loss of its capital city status as the town’s salvation, as several of the magnificent 18th century buildings survived.

Time took its toll, though, and the historic buildings were in need of repair by the early 1900s. Reverend Doctor W. A. R. Goodwin recognized the need to revive the buildings. He secured funding from John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and the restoration of Williamsburg began in 1926. Goodwin’s efforts received national attention. During a historic visit in 1934, Franklin D. Roosevelt deemed the Duke of Gloucester Street as “the most historic avenue in America.”

This restoration saved the gorgeous buildings we see today. Modern day Williamsburg enjoys an international reputation as the premier center for the preservation and interpretation of the colonial history of America. The College of William and Mary is still a highly regarded educational institution.

Reverend Goodwin intended to save just a few buildings. Eventually, the scope of his renovations expanded to include approximately 85 percent of the 18th-century colonial town. Much of this is now Colonial Williamsburg, the world’s largest living history museum. This massive site features more than forty sites and trades, historic taverns and art museums. Colonial Williamsburg helps visitors take a trip back in time to colonial Williamsburg.

Verena at the Reserve is just a short drive from Colonial Williamsburg and many other historic locations around Williamsburg. This convenient location allows residents and visitors to enjoy the shopping, dining, entertainment, cultural venues and history of the Greater Williamsburg area. Contact us today to schedule a tour of our retirement community.

7 Things for Seniors to Do in Richmond

Winter is over and spring is here, which means one thing: it’s time to get out and enjoy life. Need some inspiration? Here are the top 7 things for seniors to do in Richmond.

1. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) is one of the leading art museums in the United States. With over 5,000 years of art, collected world-wide, The Wall Street Journal recommends taking two days to see and enjoy it all. Good news: It is open 365 days a year and admission is always free. Grab a friend or family member and go explore the museum. Learn more at their website.

Location: 200 N Boulevard, Richmond, VA 23220

2. Maymont

This 100-acre estate is an extraordinary place to visit. Donated to the community by James and Sallie Dooley, residents from 1893 to 1925, it offers free tours of the mansion and gardens. Take a walk or pet a goat at the tiny petting zoo, it’s totally up to you! Golf carts are now available to enjoy the rolling hills and winding paths. Come explore one of the most beautiful spots in Richmond! It is recommended you plan to spend 2 hours at the estate. Admission is free, but consider bringing a few dollars for the gift shop. Learn more here.

Location: 1700 Hampton St, Richmond, VA 23220

3. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Come learn more about plants, enjoy being outside or simply relax in one of Richmond’s most beautiful places. Once you see it, you won’t struggle to understand why it is one of the most-visited attractions in Richmond. USA Today ranked it #4 in the nation of public gardens. With a beautiful butterfly exhibit, a reasonably priced cafeteria and a cool fountain for hot days, there is truly something for everyone to enjoy. Price of admission: $11 for seniors (55+). Find a list of free admission days at their website.

Location: 1800 Lakeside Ave, Richmond, VA 23228

4. Virginia Holocaust Museum

The Virginia Holocaust Museum does a beautiful job memorializing and documenting the horrific events of World War II. Through careful exhibits, thoughtful programming and regular outreach, the museum uses history to teach important lessons about the dangers of willful prejudice and indifference. Bring youth or visit on your own. Either way, you will be moved. Admission: Free. Learn more at their website.

Location: 2000 E Cary St, Richmond, VA 23223

5. Virginia Capitol Building

Come visit the place where tourists say they were “pleasantly surprised” by what they discovered. Step inside the white columns of the state capitol designed by Thomas Jefferson himself. (His goal? To create a building that resembled a Roman temple.) Find the only sculpture of George Washington that was created during his lifetime. Enjoy a meal in the cafe, take a guided tour or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll; you decide. Either way, come see where history and current events meet on marbled floors. Museum admission: Free. Check out the Capitol Visitor Guide here.

Location: 9th & Grace Sts, Richmond, VA 23219

6. Historic Landmark Trolley Tour

Enjoy a 2-hour historic trolley tour where you will see and learn about Richmond’s favorite historical landmarks. View the riverfront and see amazing architecture without ever leaving your cushioned seat on an air-conditioned trolley. Your driver and tour guide will share historical facts mixed with great stories and a sense of humor. Catch a glimpse of the Capitol, Monument Avenue, St. John’s Church and the museum district – to name only a few of the things you’ll see! Bring friends or take the trolley tour yourself. You’ll be glad you did. Runs 7 days a week. Admission: $32. Buy tickets here or call with questions: 800-311-ONCE

Location: 1301 East Cary Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219

7. Agecroft Hall and Gardens

Truly one of a kind, Agecroft Hall is an authentic 16th century English manor house that was taken apart and shipped across the Atlantic, piece by piece, and reassembled in Richmond in the 1920s. Today, it is open for tours and special events and is home to the Richmond Shakespeare Festival. It is recommended that you plan one to two hours to get the most out of your visit. From its noble passageways to its intricately carved staircases, this home has 500 years of stories to tell. Admission: $7 (for seniors 65+) Get more details here.

Location: 4305 Sulgrave Rd, Richmond, VA 23221-3256

Visit Verena at the Glen

While you’re out and about, why not stop in and see us at Verena at the Glen? We are a vibrant retirement community who happens to believe that wellness is a way of life. Our beautiful Glen Allen location is a short drive from many delightful sites, including parks and the famous Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. We encourage life in our community so that you can continue to be socially active, doing the things you love most. At Verena at the Glen, you’ll discover a beautiful combination of first-class amenities and upscale apartment living in a sophisticated retirement community.

Bottom line: We want you to continue to live a life of purpose and meaning! Contact us today to schedule a tour.

Golf Tips and Tricks for the Aging Golfer

For decades, people have talked about the boomer generation and the impact this group of people would have on society, especially as they aged. Well, having passed the age of 50, the baby boomers have arrived. Age has not defined them, nor has it stopped them from enjoying life to the fullest, including a round of golf. It has, however, created a few challenges for those wanting to enjoy that game of golf.

As you age, you lose flexibility, balance and strength. These traits are all important if a golfer is to maintain his game. Although you cannot turn back the clock and be as flexible as Dustin Johnson or Jason Day, a golf stretching program will help you get as close as possible. It should be part of every golfer’s bag of tricks, especially the aging golfer. Not only will it increase your power and reduce the risk of injury, it will also enable you to maintain a more consistent swing pattern, which ultimately means a lower handicap!

Static Stretching

There are two types of stretching routines that can be used to improve your game. The first type, static stretching, is aimed at increasing your range of motion. These exercises should never be done prior to a round of golf. Static stretching leaves your muscles temporarily weak and fatigued and will negatively affect your game if performed prior to teeing off. Static stretching routines should be saved for the days you will not be teeing off, or they can be performed after you are finished playing for the day.

When performed regularly, static stretching exercises will promote general relaxation to the muscles. Muscle relaxation is important. The more a muscle group is able to relax, the more forcefully its opposing muscle groups can contract, which means more power in every swing.

Dynamic Stretching

Most dynamic stretching exercises can be used as part of a warm up routine just prior to a round of golf. Unlike static stretching exercises, dynamic stretches reduce muscle stiffness and increase flexibility without compromising the power of your swing. Dynamic stretching can also be used during play if you feel yourself stiffening up.

Strengthening Your Golf Grip

Something as simple as strengthening your grip on the club can improve your ball flight. If you deal with stiffness, strengthening your grip can improve your power helping you to draw the ball just a little bit more. Although strengthening your grip is easy, it can be difficult to get used to. If you are right handed, to strengthen your grip, ever slightly rotate your hands to the right on your club. Left handers would rotate to the left. This slight change will assist you in rotating the clubface through the ball promoting a draw spin.

If you want to discover other relaxing ways to pass the time while in Glen Allen near Richmond VA, contact us here at Verena at the Glen. We’ll be happy to steer you towards one of the many opportunities to pursue an exceptional life while in our fair town, including a tour of our independent living community. See you at the club house!

Outdoor Activities to Enjoy This Spring

As the temperatures rise taking the chill out of a long frosty winter, many people begin to experience feelings of restlessness and excitement. These feelings, and others like them, are a common ailment otherwise known as spring fever. If you too are starting to feel its effects, you are in the right place.

In celebration of spring, we have lots of great ideas to help you find the cure for what ails you. It’s time to get outside, enjoy the weather and have some fun!

  • Get your hands dirty. That’s right … play in the dirt. Find a pot you love and plant flowers, herbs or vegetables. You’ll also enjoy the trip to the nursery picking out what you decide to plant. But be careful, as you wander through the aisles of beautiful plants, you may find yourself wanting to fill several pots. If you purchased a delicate plant, be prepared to bring it in should there be a freeze. Situate your potted plant next to a sitting area outside so you can enjoy it and the butterflies as they come to visit your flowers.
  • Another way to get your hands dirty – make mud pies to attract butterflies! Mud pies, made with a few ingredients from your kitchen and dirt, of course, will attract butterflies and provide them with the minerals, dissolved salts, calcium and protein they need to mate successfully.
  • Have fun setting up an outdoor table like a French bistro. Prepare a light meal of sandwiches and a fresh green salad. Then invite friends over for an afternoon or early evening of dining pleasure and fun.
  • How about a picnic? Spread a checkered table cloth over an outside table, plan a delectable picnic menu and enjoy the day with family and friends.
  • Plan a cozy evening at home with your friends or that special someone. Top your outside table with a table cloth. Put a few candles in the center. Serve wine and cheese. Enjoy a nice relaxing evening of conversation and fun.
  • Imagine the pleasure of your guests when they see the delights you have laid out for them at an afternoon tea party. Throw a white table cloth over an outdoor table, add a splash of color with tulips or daffodils and prepare to entertain your guests with an outdoor tea party. Not sure what to serve? What’s Cooking America has put together a list of recipes to make it easy. Pick out a couple that you know you and your guests will enjoy and the party is set!
  • Sit outside and read a good book.
  • For a lazy day in the sun, sway gently in a hammock watching the clouds float by.
  • Sit outside and blow bubbles. Feel like a kid again as you watch the bubbles float through the air. Here is a bubble recipe so you can make your own solution and wands. Or better yet, learn how to make extra strong bouncing bubbles and surprise a special little someone with your bubble prowess.
  • If you enjoy watching the birds, make a birdfeeder so you can sit outside and enjoy your feathered friends. Bird feeders are easy to make out of a plastic soda bottle or a pinecone and are easily hung from a patio cover or tree.
  • Find area hiking trails, grab some friends and go for a hike. Be sure to take your binoculars to do a little birdwatching. Enjoy the fresh spring air.
  • Invite a hummingbird to your yard or patio by hanging a feeder. The nectar is easy to make, but be sure to remember it should be replaced every four days, giving the container a good cleaning when replacing the nectar.
  • Fire up the grill and enjoy a cookout.
  • Invite a few friends and head outside to enjoy a board game or nice game of cards.
  • Make a kite from scratch and then, on a slightly breezy day, go see if it flies.

If you want to discover other relaxing ways to enjoy yourself in Williamsburg VA, contact us at Verena at the Reserve. We’ll be more than happy to help you find ways to cure your spring fever, including a tour of our Williamsburg senior living community.