In my years as a Williamsburg Va area real estate agent, I was always surprised when I looked at brochures from other listings. Quite often I see two sentences describing a 3 BR two bath home. I personally feel if you are paying someone a substantial sum to sell your home they can put a little more effort into it. That was the genesis of these stories.
Having a website that focuses on real estate in the area brings a lot of questions from potential home buyers. Most of these folks have never been to Williamsburg Virginia. So imagine if you’re from outside the area and know nothing about homes their neighborhoods whether some of the questions you would ask?
What’s the neighborhood like? Who lives there? What are the schools like? Do they have any social events? Do they have a pool? Or the lots private? Do they mow your yard? Can you put in a fence? Can you have dogs? How far is it to the store? How far is it to the playground? How far is it to the beach? I think you get the gist.
So, below is a recap of some of the stories my clients have told in the process of me selling their homes.
Hopefully, it gives you a sense of what it’s like to live here, and what it’s like to live in that specific neighborhood.
You can explore other Mr Williamsburg neighborhood spotlight pages here
“Grand and comfortable.” This was John and Diana’s guiding vision in designing their gracious brick Colonial that bears resemblance to the Governor’s Palace in Colonial Williamsburg.
“We wanted a house that was not a replica of the Governor’s Palace, but that made people say ‘Hey, this looks a little like it,’” said John, the CEO of a federal government contractor. “We wanted it to be one of the neighborhood’s showcases, but we also wanted a place where people would feel comfortable, where they could put their feet up and relax. I feel we accomplished that.”
The 6,500 square foot home was built in 2006 by Hallmark Builders. “We went with Hallmark because of the quality of their homes,” John said. “Their homes are very sturdy and we like the creativity of the owner.”
The couple chose to build their home in the country club community of Ford’s Colony because it offered multiple golf courses. “Diana and I play golf several times a week,” said John. “We knew we would get bored if we played the same course so often.” Ford’s Colony includes three Dan Maples championship golf courses; the couple chose to build their home on the 15th hole of the Blue Heron course.
Originally from Phoenix, AZ, Suzie and Andrew Yeats had the desire to move to a place with abundant nature, wildlife and trees. Coming from the desert, they found the large wooded lots in Ford’s Colony to be the perfect fit for their family of five.
Over the past 11 years, there is little that the Yeats’ haven’t upgraded in their 2,840 square foot home. The couple has a flare for architecture and design and has made many improvements, including an all-new roof, windows, flooring, kitchen and more. “We’ve opened it up quite a bit,” says Suzy. This is especially evident in the great room. The Yeats’ transformed their kitchen and living room into one, large space complete with a gorgeous oversized island, enlarged Carrara marble subway tile backsplash, beams, recessed lighting and a limewashed brick fireplace.
“I love that our kids have so many options for quiet places to do their homework,” says Suzie. They can hunker down in the kitchen, bonus room, library, or in the privacy of their own bedrooms. I think it helps them be more successful students.”
Powhatan Secondary-Christensen Home: All in the Family-
When Mary and Greg Christensen went looking for a home in Williamsburg, it was with family in mind. The couple, in a second marriage for both, had a blended family of 4 adult children plus a grandchild and wanted plenty of space for them all to visit.
Mary, an elementary school teacher, had lived in the Hampton Roads area all her life but never in Williamsburg, and wanted to give it a try. Greg, a Long Island NY native who works in sales, found that Williamsburg’s stately, traditional style houses reminded him of home.
“Greg really wanted to live in Williamsburg, and I liked the idea of being where there are so many great things to do,” Mary says. “Plus, it has great proximity to airports such as Richmond International.”
It seems mundane: sitting at your kitchen table. But for Nancy Ellis, that place is special, filled with warm memories of times spent in her beloved home in Powhatan Woods.
“Some of my favorite times have been sitting at the kitchen table,” Nancy reflects about the home she has lived in for 17 years. “There’s so much sunlight that comes into the kitchen, and I can see the birds from there every morning. It’s so bright and so calming; it’s my comfort place.”
“We chose the Windsor because it had a very open floor plan,” Nancy says, noting she didn’t want a lot of cut-off rooms. “The family and kitchen areas are kind of seamless. You can be in the kitchen and still feel like you’re part of what’s going on in the family room when they’re watching TV.”
“Some of the things that we like about our property are that it’s very close to the pool and fields, and the basketball hoops are just around the corner,” Nancy says. “There are a lot of things that the kids could do within walking distance, like walk the trails to fish at the pond and walk to the park, which is where I worked at the time we built. It was just a one mile walk from our house to the stop light at the park.”
The Ellis home is on the corner of a cul-de-sac, with a yard that extends around the entire house. “It was great because the kids ran all around the house all of the time,” Nancy says, laughing.
Fairway Villas: The Krichers’ Personal Retreat
“A spacious feel with lots of natural light.”
That’s what Fred and Patti Kricher wanted most in their Williamsburg home. And that’s what they found with their Fairway Villas condominium townhome, which they came to consider their personal “retreat.”
Fred, who works in marketing, and Patti, retired from the salon industry, moved to Williamsburg in 2004. “We moved here for both business and personal reasons,” says Fred. “I knew Williamsburg was basically a nice, upscale area and would remain that way. Plus it’s equidistant from Richmond and the Tidewater area, which are the areas I travel to for work.”
The Fairway Villas community drew the couple partly because of its location within the Greensprings area. “It is far enough from the main drag, Richmond Road, that in tourist season it doesn’t get hit with the tourist traffic,” Fred notes. “It’s a convenient location, close to Colonial Williamsburg, but we don’t get caught in much traffic at all.”
The community’s lush, heavily treed setting also strongly appealed to the couple. “It’s such a nice, well-kept area,” says Fred of the community, which features wooded walking trails and a pond. “And it has a nice backdrop, with beautiful, mature trees like pear, crepe myrtle and evergreens lining the entire neighborhood. This used to be a wildlife refuge, and that’s why it’s aesthetically so pretty.”
Yet, for all its pastoral charm, it was the inside of the 2 BR/2BA, transitional style townhome that most impressed the couple
Canterbury Woods-“Home is where the heart is”
If Garrett Fesler was having a bad day at work, he’d just think about being home, in his backyard sunroom. “It extends out into our yard so that you’re looking out at green — like being in the middle of the woods — and it’s a great place to relax,” he says. “I love to open up all the windows and just sit and catch a breeze.”
That all-season sunroom, with a vaulted ceiling and floor-to-ceiling glass doors on three sides, was one of the main reasons Garrett and his wife, Corine, bought their 2,300 square-foot ranch in 2007. The couple, who had ties to the College of William & Mary, wanted a home with a large yard and mature trees in an established neighborhood that was close to the college. Their Canterbury Hills home on a heavily-treed, 2/3 acre lot, located within an easy walk or bike ride to W & M, offers all of that.
Capital Landing Green
When looking to purchase a vacation home in Williamsburg, Sandy and Matt Hand knew they wanted two things – walkability and to be in close proximity to Colonial Williamsburg. They found everything they wanted and more in 308 Page Street.
“We love the house and all of the amenities that come with where it is physically located, and the only thing we really upgraded were the plantation blinds,” says Sandy.
Though the house was purchased by the Hands in 2017, they have visited less than 20 times in the last two years and are the first owners of the property. When you first enter the home it definitely gives off a “brand new” feel with its light colors, open floorplan, high ceilings and large island with granite countertops.
Mirror Lake Estates
Close to I-64, yet with a relaxing, country feel: that was the allure of Mirror Lake Estates when Liz and John bought a home there in 2007. “We were drawn to it because of its location in a quiet, more rural area of Williamsburg,” says Liz, a supervisor at a utility company. “The neighborhood is away from the ebb and flow of tourism…. but only 15 minutes from downtown Williamsburg.”
Liz and her husband, John, a D.O.D. employee, chose a two-story, transitional-style home with a cozy porch. It overlooks a front yard boasting one of the largest cherry trees in the neighborhood.
Wendy Carrington can watch her children at the neighborhood playground from a white rocking chair on her front porch. In fact, she picked the neighborhood— Burlington Woods — the lot, and the big, welcoming porch in order to do just that.
We chose this neighborhood because it’s small, close-knit, and family-friendly,” said Wendy, an insurance underwriter with two children, 5 and 8. “Then we picked this lot to build on because it’s across the street from the playground.” The porch was an extra she added to the nearly 3,000 square-foot home that she and her husband, Steve, a Coast Guard retiree, built in 2010.
White Hall Toano
The hustle and bustle of living in Yorktown were wearing thin for Kim and James Repp.
“We really wanted more space and a more country living feel,” says Kim of the couple’s 2010 decision to move from their townhouse in Yorktown to a single family home in Toano’s White Hall. “We loved that the White Hall community was part of a huge farm, and we loved the wonderful sense of history there.” One neighborhood feature the history buffs particularly liked was the 1805 Whitehall Plantation farmhouse, and now serving as the community’s club house.
Linda and John Niedzwick have loved Williamsburg since they first vacationed here in 1988. At that time, the couple resided near Rochester, New York, where Linda was a nurse and John worked for Kodak. They lived in a log cabin that John, a talented carpenter and wood worker, had built. But the history buffs’ attraction to Williamsburg drew them south.
“We both just love history and the whole Williamsburg area… Yorktown, Jamestown,” said Linda. “We were visiting here several times a year. And the more we came, the more we came back.”
Although the couple first planned to relocate to Williamsburg after retirement, in 2002 they decided to change jobs in order to make the move earlier.
The Settlement at Powhatan Creek
Tom and Diane Rhoads: Building The Perfect “Downsize” House
“This is just the perfect downsize house for a retired couple,” says Tom Rhoads of the custom, 3 bedroom/3 full bath Cape Cod that he and his wife, Diane, built in The Settlement at Powhatan Creek in Williamsburg VA. Diane agrees, with one proviso: you don’t have to be retired to love their open concept, perfect-for-entertaining house or the Settlement’s friendly, active, and amenities-rich adult community
Bennington Condos in New Town
When Susan Richardson first walked through the door of her 4th floor New Town condo to find a fabulous vista of Sullivan Square Park, she was immediately smitten.
“I could look straight ahead at the sliding doors to the balcony and have a great view of Sullivan Square,” she said. “I just loved that you could see through the condo to the other side.”
“I actually thought it would be just Neil and I coming here and having a nice lifestyle, and going about our own lives in our own ways,” says Pat, a company executive and life coach. “I didn’t expect the feeling of connectedness, the deep sense of community pride and involvement, that we feel here. In terms of familiarity and opportunities to meet people and do meaningful work together in groups—I just didn’t expect it.”
The couple initially considered a New Town condo, but were ultimately drawn to the New Town neighborhood of Charlotte Park and its Federal Towns community.
“We liked the idea of a townhouse with a first-floor master, and liked that the townhomes are individualized and have a Colonial look,” says Pat, noting their townhome has 16 windows and 10-foot ceilings on the main floor. “We didn’t want a single-family home because we wanted to downsize significantly, and we didn’t want to worry about the house if we traveled. The townhouse has mostly the “lock and leave” convenience of a condo, but we also get a separate two-car garage, a big front porch, and a back yard.”
“There’s also something about the comfort of a townhouse, where you have neighbors,” she adds. “We’re all very friendly with our neighbors, we look out for one another, and Neil likes to sit on the front porch and read. It just felt like a very simple lifestyle to have a townhouse.”
April Guminsky knew she wanted to build a family home in Stonehouse as soon as she drove in.
“We looked at a lot of places before we found where we wanted to build,” said April, a pediatrician. “Then we drove into Stonehouse and found the most beautiful development we had ever seen. The crepe myrtles were breathtaking. We knew we wanted to live there.”
Beautiful and Welcoming on the Outside.
April and her husband, Michael, who works at NASA, found the perfect lot, and began working with their builder to design a 2-level, 4-bedroom/3.5-bath home. Their first consideration was how the house was sited. “It was important to us that we have plenty of space between our neighbors, and that we have some quiet space,” April noted.
April wanted her new home to have strong curb appeal. “We wanted brick, and we wanted the house not to be shaped like a block, but to have lots of nice shapes and angles.” They designed a brick and frame home with steeply peaked roofs and double dormers in the front, a blend of Ranch and Cape.
The couple also wanted “a nice front porch with a bench,” and since they moved into their home in 2005, that porch has been a well-loved feature. “We are set back a bit from the sidewalk, but there are plenty of friendly neighbors to yell to,” April laughed.
When Kathy and David Souza were looking for homes in Williamsburg in the late 1990s, they felt like everything they saw looked similar to their home in Newport News, only they cost $40,000 more. That is until they drove a little outside of town to see 10145 Squires Way in Toano.
A spacious home that could accommodate their family was a must. The updated five-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath house with large bedrooms, a cozy living room, formal dining room and massive wooded backyard for playing and exploring checked all of the boxes.
“One of the things we liked the most about this house was the neighborhood,” says Kathy. “It’s not cookie cutter, and every house is unique. I never thought I would live out in the country but it really turned out to be a blessing as Williamsburg continued to grow and started to resemble what we escaped from when we moved from Newport News.”
In the 21 years they have spent on Squires Way, the Souza’s have made several upgrades to the house. In addition to the in-law suite they expanded the kitchen to make a larger eat-in kitchen area and added built-in pantries along the walls of the kitchenette.
Finding French Country Elegance in Westmoreland: The Cotes’ Custom Home
Carol and Don Cotes moved from Florida to Williamsburg in 2009 to be close to their son, Tim, and his family. And, it didn’t hurt that Tim was a custom builder eager to build his parents the home of their dreams.
“I wanted a French country house,” said Carol, who is retired from sales and has a French family heritage. “So, Tim researched the features of that type of home before he designed our house.” The result is a gracious, 4-bedroom, 3-bath home that combines luxurious amenities with architectural and decorative elements reflecting a French influence
From their home overlooking the village green, Matt and Sarah Menefee can enjoy a peaceful view of the square’s lush lawn and manicured greenery, get together with neighbors at the gazebo, or simply walk across the street to play there with their 2-year-old daughter. “It’s such an appealing place,” said Sarah. “There are kids and dogs, and yesterday we watched people there playing ball.”
That charming village green is just one of the features that drew the Menefees to the Village at Quarterpath four years ago. The couple had decided to move from their Williamsburg condo in order to shorten the commute for Matt, who works in Hampton Roads. “With 64 East so close, the location at Quarterpath was stellar for Matt,” said Sarah. “And it turned out to be a great commute for me, too.”
Village at Quarterpath Came To Rent; Decided To Buy. Sarah and Matt hadn’t planned on buying a home at Quarterpath, though.
“We actually came to look for a rental, but after we met the builder, we realized it made sense for us to buy instead,” Sarah said. The couple decided on new construction, a 2-story, brick-faced duplex home that would be built across from the green.
Gloria Baller took a giant leap of faith when it came to building her home in Thorngate Landing/ Greensprings West two years ago. “My husband was in the military and stationed in Germany,” recalls Gloria, who met her husband, Craig, when he was stationed in Italy 17 years ago. “We knew we wanted to be in Williamsburg, and we knew that / Greensprings West was the type of close-knit, family-oriented community we were looking for. But we were still living outside the U.S. at that time.”
While Gloria and the couple’s two children stayed in Germany, Craig flew to Virginia to work with real estate agent John “Mr. Williamsburg” Womeldorf on finding the perfect / Greensprings West building lot. Gloria didn’t get to see the properties in person, but based on her husband’s communications and a little help from Google maps, she got a good feel for what they were like. Eventually, she and Craig found the right lot, a flat, .34-acre property with mature trees, just right for building their new home.
Gloria’s stress level rose a bit when it came time to actually build the house – again, without seeing anything in person. “It was pretty stressful because I’m oriented toward details,” said Gloria, who loves art and design. “I like to see the materials that go into my home.” Craig did visit Greensprings West / Thorngate Landing once during construction of their 4-bedroom, 2.5-bath transitional Colonial. However, most design decisions had to be made long distance, based upon emails, photos, and the help of their agent, John
In 2003, when it came to time to move her aging mother-in-law closer to home, Petra Davis and her husband Mike began looking at nearby condos in Williamsburg.
They knew they wanted a home that would be easy for her to take care of but that would also offer enough space for when other family members came to visit.
After looking at a few properties, the Davises came across Westgate at Williamsburg a condominium community located off Richmond Road and knew they had found the perfect home.
While her mother-in-law was in awe of the large closets, Petra and Mike really liked the floorplan of the two-story,1,500 square-foot unit, which featured three bedrooms, two full baths, cathedral ceilings, a large kitchen, an outdoor patio and cozy gas fire place.
Many of you have asked who is building in Fords Colony’s newest community. We’d like to introduce you to the Weslowskis, who will be moving in within a few months.
Pat Wesolowski is the finance director of a small city outside Chicago. Her husband, Joe, has a woodworking business there. They both grew up in Chicago, and started dating in high school. When Joe joined the Navy Reserves, Pat went to the University of Illinois, and for more than 30 years — most of their married life — they have lived in the Chicago suburbs. So, deciding to leave the Windy City for a brand new community in Williamsburg was not easy. It was, however, pretty exciting.
“Our home in Westport [part of Ford’s Colony] will be one of the first ones completed, and that’s really exciting,” said Pat. “We’ll get to know the people who come in after us. In fact, we’ve already had dinner with the people who bought the lot next to us.”
When Edward and Michael decided to build their dream home, they knew it had to be large enough to accommodate their elderly parents and have a layout that offered privacy, luxury, and all the amenities for entertaining. They also knew it had to be in Stonehouse, a Toano VA neighborhood located about 15 miles from Colonial Williamsburg.
“We love this neighborhood. The people are friendly, it’s quiet, and there’s 50% green space here,” said Edward, noting he and Michael had lived in Stonehouse for years before building their home on Mill Pond Run. “When we decided to build a larger home so that our parents could live with us, I walked every lot available in Stonehouse to find the perfect property.” They finally found just the right lot: almost an acre with 3 acres of green space behind it, and a sloping yard to accommodate a walk-out basement.
Lan Cao wanted a home on the water, one that gave her an open and peaceful feel. She also wanted a community with a lot of amenities. She got all that and more when she bought her 8,500 square-foot Mediterranean-style house on a hill overlooking a pond at the residential resort community of Kingsmill on the James.
Lan, an author and a professor at the William & Mary Law School, moved into the Kingsmill home in 2004 with her husband, Bill Van Alstyne, also a law professor, and daughter, Harlan, then two-years-old. Kingsmill’s location just three miles from Colonial Williamsburg and the College of William & Mary was a major attraction to the couple.
“The sellers, who had built the house, were Greek,” said Lan. “The entire first floor has no doors, except for one to the study. Instead, the rooms are separated by rows of arches. It makes the house feel very open and airy.”
In fact, arches are recurring features on both the inside and outside of the 1984 home. Its entrance is covered by an arched, two-story front porch. The 2,700 square feet of gracefully curved decking that wraps around the back of the house includes an arched brick barbeque alcove. Inside, the grand foyer opens to an unusual, double staircase rising to a wide, arched opening on the second floor; on the main level, the foyer has a double archway into the home’s great room. Floor- to- ceiling windows in many of the rooms, including the great room, maximize the gorgeous water views and add to the open feel of the home.
The “welcoming, charming people of New Town” in Williamsburg VA are among the reasons Ellen and John Morgan moved into the community a year ago. Ellen did online research when John accepted a call to become the senior pastor at Williamsburg Presbyterian Church. They were looking for a walkable, environmentally friendly neighborhood that would offer some restaurants for two foodies to enjoy. Realtor John Womeldorf (Mr Williamsburg) of Liz Moore & Associates led them to New Town. John claims they were “predestined” to live here.
The classic, elegant exterior of the Georgian Federal home on Ann Johnson Lane in Governor’s Land was what first enticed Caz Wesley when she was house-shopping in 2008.
“I could see the house was an architectural gem when I walked up to it,” said Caz, an interior designer. “On the exterior, all four sides are classic, dark red brick with keystones over the windows. The front stoop has four brick steps and gracious, curved black railings with beautiful balustrades going down both sides. There’s a Federal-style portico with four pillars over the Charleston-style front door, which has an arched, webbed glass window above it and sidelights on both sides. There are just so many beautiful architectural features.”
Thirty years ago, Fran and Richard O’Hagan were living with their three young children in the established community of Queens Lake. During the holiday season, the O’Hagan’s home was a stop on the neighborhood Christmas tour, so they had to vacate for an afternoon. To kill time, they circled the neighborhood and came across a home for sale.
Fran popped into the home to take a peek while Rich stayed in the car with the kids, and what she found behind those doors blew her away.
“Despite some old wallpaper that wasn’t my taste, I saw the gorgeous hardwood floors, the cabinetry and the pool,” says Fran “The cabinetry is like furniture, it is so beautiful. The space upstairs was amazing and the size of bathrooms was terrific. I came back out and told Rich he had to go in and see it. It’s so much bigger than it looked on the outside. I love that the home is expansive yet understated.”
One thing that really sets this home apart from the rest is that the entire house is built around a 28’x16’ indoor pool.
“The pool has been great fun through the years,” says Fran. “It’s a lot easier to maintain than an outdoor because the water doesn’t have to be replaced as long as it is taken care of, and it doesn’t get cold. It’s always the perfect temperature. On Halloween, our kids used to go trick-or-treating and then bring their friends back here for a pool party.”
Queens Lake-The Perfect Home
When Laurie and Tim McNemar decided they were ready to leave the hustle and bustle of Washington, DC behind in 2010, they set their sights on Williamsburg.
The McNemars ultimately fell in love with Queens Lake. They first saw 133 Hunter Lane before it even hit the market in 2011. Situated on a private lane with only four other homes, the McNemars were enchanted by the privacy and quaintness of the beautiful, white washed ranch. The house became available and the McNemars jumped on it.
“What struck me the most were the windows,” says Laurie. “Every one of them is designed to connect the interior space to the outside. There’s a big bay window in the living room, a box window in the kitchen, another bay window in the kitchen, and another box window in the master bedroom. The windows draw so much light into the house.”
“Our favorite part about the house is how it’s situated here in the woods,” says Laurie. “We have our morning coffee in the living room because the sun comes through the bay window and crosses the house. In the evenings, we watch the sunset from the other end of the house in the family room.”
Skimino Landing Estates
With yards large enough for family softball games—and he’s had several of them — builder David Campbell knew Skimino Landing Estates, located near the York River and Camp Perry, was the right place to build his own family’s custom home.
“The lots here are all 2 plus acres, and I like that,” said David, co-owner of York County’s Tabb Homes Inc. “I didn’t want to be crammed into my neighbors next door. The yard here is big enough for my two Sheltie sheep dogs to run, and my son-in-law to practice his golf swings.”
David’s vision for his Skimino Landing home was a generously sized ranch with the upscale amenities that are a signature in the Skimino Landing community. “I wanted a really good floor plan, a large family room, a very nice kitchen and baths, and great closets,” said David. “I also wanted a lot of light.”
David included all of those must-haves in his 3,300 square foot home, which includes three bedrooms plus an above-garage “bonus” suite with full bath that is accessed via a hallway near the kitchen. With three additional full baths, and an open concept kitchen/family room, the home has ample space for even a large family. The two-car garage is also generously sized, with enough room for two vehicles plus David’s tools.
David enjoys living in the communities he helps to build. Between 1998 and 2006, he constructed 77 homes in The Greenlands, and lived in one of them for several years. He has also built a half-dozen other custom and semi-custom homes in Skimino Landing, where he has lived with his wife since 2009.
Dick and Mary Sue Metrey’s traditionally-styled, open concept home on a quiet cul-de-sac in Colonial Heritage is up for sale. But that’s not because the couple wants to leave the gated, 55+ active adults community; it’s because they want to stay.
For Dick and Mary Sue, the gracious 3-bedroom, 2-bath home they built on Blakemore Terrace in Colonial Heritage was only a summer place; their primary residence was near Washington, DC. But after less than two years of living there part-time, the couple have decided to make Colonial Heritage their permanent home.
“There is such a sense of community here,” said Mary Sue, who is retired from working with the mentally disabled. “People are friendly and they’re interesting.” However, with a huge immediate family of 19 children and grandchildren who love to visit, the Metreys need more room than their 1,756 square foot “Aldrich” model can provide. The couple regretfully decided to sell their Blakemore Terrace home, but they are building a larger home in Colonial Heritage just down the street.
Gloucester VA Life on the Rivah !
There’s a rhythm to the lifestyle that Bill and Anne Tennent enjoy from their Gloucester waterfront retreat on the Ware River. Mornings often start slow and relaxing, with coffee on their deck while watching the river change color as the tide comes in and the sun rises. Bill might head out for a quiet hour with his boat and his fishing pole before returning to take Anne for a more lively spin along the Ware as the day gets warmer. Some days the couple makes the 10-minute drive to old town Gloucester for an art exhibit or a festival along the village’s historic Main Street, perhaps followed by dinner at one of the intimate restaurants there. Then they head back home to their sunroom for panoramic views of a breathtaking sunset across the water, sometimes catching sight of a heron or an egret in the fading light. As Anne puts it, “We have the best of all worlds here.”
In 1997, Ed and Sun Crosby were just coming out of military housing, where they’d known only one or two of their frequently-changing neighbors. They were excited about getting into a more static community, one where they could form long-term friendships with other residents. Their new community also needed to have an “optimum location” that would allow easy access to Hampton, where Ed worked as a network consultant.
The Crosbys found everything they were looking for at Williamsburg Bluffs, then a new development in York County, offering high-quality schools and good accessibility to both Richmond (45-minute drive) and Hampton (30 minutes away). “It’s great that the neighborhood is so close to I-64,” Ed notes. “But it’s not so close that we have road noise.”
More importantly, Williamsburg Bluffs turned out to be the friendly, close-knit type of neighborhood that Ed and Sun had yearned for. “We know all of the neighbors on our block, even their kids’ names,” says Ed. “That’s a great plus for us. You just don’t see this type of closeness in a lot of neighborhoods today.”
It’s a relative rarity in Colonial-loving Williamsburg: a contemporary home, one with cathedral ceilings, a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace flanked by cedar accent walls, and walls of windows. When Dorothy Coleman saw a photo advertising it for sale in 1998, she thought she could be looking at her new home. When she learned the nearly 2,500 square-foot home was located in Windsor Forest, a neighborhood of lush greenery and mature trees, she was sure of it. “It isn’t easy to find a contemporary in Williamsburg,” Dorothy notes. “So I knew this was it.”
Coming Home to a Peaceful Place. The 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath home, built in 1985 on a wooded, half-acre lot, offered the pastoral setting the couple longed for. Neighbors aren’t far away, but their homes are filtered images through the stands of trees. “It gives you a nice feeling of privacy, yet still feeling you belong to a neighborhood,” Dorothy says, noting that her home is on a quiet cul-de-sac.
“Another thing I love about this house is the low yard maintenance because it is so heavily wooded,” she adds. Between the mulched areas, azaleas, ferns, wildflowers, and other plantings, she has little grass to mow. In fact, after reading a book on moss gardening, Dorothy replaced most of her grass with a swath of colorful moss. “You can walk on the moss; it’s very resilient,” she says. “And it creates a mood of peace and serenity. You see a lovely moss carpet that stays a pretty Irish green in the winter.”
Bill and Liz Sykes were searching for a lifestyle change in 2001, when they decided to leave behind the long commutes and congestion of Northern Virginia. They found it in Williamsburg’s Windsor Forest.
“At first, we tried to find a home that was closer to my work in Northwest Washington, D.C., but it was way too cost prohibitive,” explains Liz. “So, we decided to make a big change. Since we had both gone to William & Mary, we felt comfortable with moving to Williamsburg.”
The couple had a vision. They wanted to start a family, so they sought more space than their Northern Virginia townhouse had offered, and they wanted their new home to have some character. They wanted a big yard for their two dogs. And they wanted a family-friendly, tree-lined neighborhood with a community pool.
“We were driving around Williamsburg neighborhoods in the spring and saw this cute Cape Cod with a flowering dogwood in the front yard,” Liz says. “It had great curb appeal, and we immediately thought we just had to live there.”
A “Great Family Home.” The 2,100 square-foot, 3 bedroom/3 full bath home, built in 1978, has formal living and dining rooms and a kitchen-family room area. A bonus room above the side-loading garage, accessible via the kitchen, offered the couple additional living space. The .88-acre yard backing to mature trees — no one can build behind them —seemed perfect for the dogs. Read more of the story here
John Spence used to dream of living in Windsor Forest. As a kid who grew up in Williamsburg and had many friends who lived in the pastoral community, he wanted to live there, too.
In 2002, John realized that dream by building a two-story Colonial style home in Windsor Forest for his young family of four. He chose a 2,180 square-foot, 3-bedroom,3-bath home with a large living room featuring a gas fireplace, a spacious kitchen with breakfast bar open to the dining area, and a bonus room above the garage.
John says such experiences are what makes his home so extraordinary. “I think it kind of symbolizes the house itself and its connection with nature. It’s a dream paradise for kids who want to get in the backyard and catch animals. Having this sort of property has been very, very special.”
“The neighborhood itself is an amazing place if you like to jog or walk because it has a variety of different landscapes, some hilly and some flatter,” John says. “That’s what I see people in the neighborhood doing most: walking or riding their bikes.”
Southern Marylanders Pam and Dave Sisson had a love affair going with Williamsburg before they even moved there.
“We’d been playing in the Williamsburg area for a long time,” says Pam, a retired nurse. “We were actively involved in the Foundation at Colonial Williamsburg.”
“We especially had a lot of interest in the CW’s citizenship and education programs,” adds Dave, a retired realtor and small business owner with experience in residential and commercial construction. “So, Williamsburg was a place we visited often, and we decided we might as well live there.”
“I saw so much attention to detail,” he adds about the 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath home built by Hallmark Homes. “For example, the faceplates on the switches and plugs all had their screws turned the same way so that they matched. That showed me that the craftsmen working on the house tried to do something that spoke above and beyond perfection. I’ve been trained to look for all these visuals, and they all told me that this house was very well done.”
“I waited a long time for that neighborhood to develop!” says Christine Major about Martin’s Grant at Old Gun, a small planned community in the rolling hills of the Southside of the city of Richmond. Her wait began in 2002, when she was looking to downsize from her 4-bedroom Richmond home to a free-standing house with the low-maintenance and amenities of a condo. At that time, there weren’t many of those available in Richmond, so when she heard that a 42-home, zero-lot-line and maintenance-free community was being planned for fallow farmland on historic Old Gun Road, she quickly checked it out.
“I took walks around the property, which was then just an old farmhouse and a pond,” she says. “And when the project finally started nearly two years later, I selected my lot by peering over the berm because there were no streets; it was just all mud and construction.”
Christine’s perseverance paid off: She and her husband, Calvin, ended up with a prime, corner lot that offers great privacy, even with the zero-lot-line design. They became the first to contract for a home in the new community being designed and built by developer D. O. Allen, and in 2004 moved into their brick, one-level home with 2-car garage.
While Christine was thrilled with the move, Calvin, then a retired attorney, was initially reluctant. “I felt we needed to downsize, but he didn’t really care to move,” Christine notes. “But, on our first day in the house, he was sitting at the breakfast table and looked out and saw someone cutting his grass. He looked at me and said, ‘Oh, I think I’m gonna like it here.’ And it really was a good move for us.”
In fact, Martin’s Grant residents have to do virtually no maintenance. In addition to mowing/mulching/weeding/fertilizing/watering the common spaces and private yards, the HOA staff cleans gutters, does exterior painting, removes snow and leaves, and even washes the exteriors of home windows. “We’re responsible for our own roofs, but otherwise the association takes care of everything,” Christine explains.
When Marilynn and Wink Harned left Northern Virginia for Williamsburg in 2015, a friend asked if they had outgrown Arlington, the Washington, D.C. suburb the couple had lived in for many years and never thought they would leave.
Marilynn and Wink loved the home’s attractive, low-country cottage styling, including its steep pitched roof and dormers, and its inviting, 21-foot front porch. “I love my front porch. A neighbor recently brought me a bottle of red wine, and said she knew I’d like it because she had seen me out on my porch enjoying a glass of red wine,” Marilynn says, laughing. Charlotte Park homes are designed to sit close to the street and include front porches in order to encourage neighbors to interact.
The Harneds also liked the home’s interior layout, which features a living/dining room as well as an open concept kitchen and family room with gas fireplace. The placement of the bedrooms–two guest bedrooms (one used as their office) in the front of the house and the master bedroom suite toward the rear–worked especially well. “When guests stay with us, they say that, with the way the bedrooms are laid out, they don’t feel like they’re under our feet all the time,” Marilynn points out.
Williamsburg Heights West
Life’s in walking distance.
If you walk this number of steps from the doorstep of 200 Harrison Avenue, you will land on historic Duke of Gloucester Street, the shining jewel of Williamsburg. There you can dine at The Trellis or the Cheese Shop, or shop at R. Bryant Ltd. Or you can continue your walk all the way to the Capital Building. On your walk, pity the people driving around looking for parking spots. The College of William and Mary is right across Jamestown Road.
Builder and designer John and Lisa Sawin’s original plan was to renovate the existing 1930’s Remick Residence, but, after working with the city, they decided to tear the house down and rebuild the exterior as close to the original as possible. In fact, it is one of a few new residential construction projects in the heart of the city. The Sawins maintained the home’s original pre-World War II charm without all the maintenance hassles of an old house. “Our biggest selling point is the design, “ said John. “ A house that feels old, but is brand new is a rarity.”
The downstairs is a complete living area in itself with first floor master bedroom and bath, laundry room, open floor plan kitchen and family room with a limestone masonry fireplace. The simple, yet elegant, dining room features built-in custom cabinets and buffet with sink. A cozy sunroom with tiled floors, vaulted ceilings and rustic wood beams salvaged from a North Carolina tobacco warehouse is the perfect place to read or have morning coffee.
The stair newel post was custom made to feel vintage and warm. ‘We hand made all the handrails, “said John. “ We spent a lot of time getting the handrails to look 150 years old.” The trim throughout was designed to provide an old colonial feel. The real wow! detail, however, is the sill mounted, low voltage window candles that sweetly light at 6 p.m. and automatically shut off at midnight.
Katie Kullberg wanted nothing to do with Virginia. She had lived in Michigan all her life, her family was there, and her first child was less than a year old. The idea of moving to Virginia’s Hampton Roads area so that her then-husband could pursue employment there did not make her happy.
Despite her reservations, Katie went back to Virginia once more, bringing her parents for advice and support. Her realtor brought them to Williamsburg’s Berkeley’s Green community, and this time Katie fell in love.
The couple moved into a two-story home with a classic layout: family room on one side of the center hall and dining room on the other, leading to a kitchen overlooking a deck and a beautiful back yard with mature trees. Upstairs were four bedrooms plus a bonus finished room above the garage (FROG).
“It was our happy place,” Katie says. “That’s where my ex-husband and I would sit when the kids were in bed. We’d have a glass of wine and say, ‘Yes, this is a good place, our happy place.’”
At one point, Katie considered putting a pool in the back yard – it is big enough — but she just couldn’t bring herself to take down all the trees. Instead, she installed a play structure and a full-size soccer net so her three children could play soccer there. Most of the home’s rooms, including the family room, kitchen, and FROG, offer views of the green canopy of the back yard.
Why the stories? Because these aren’t just houses, they’re homes.
Mr. Williamsburg knows that when you’re looking for a new place, you’re searching for more than just four walls plus amenities, you’re looking for that welcoming refuge we call home. That’s why we go beyond the standard “4 bedrooms, 3 baths on large lot” statistics, to share how others have lived in this house, to reveal the home’s unique personality, to help you decide whether this is a place where your family could thrive.
Want to tell your home’s story? I would be happy to meet to help you market your home or find your dream home/ neighborhood in the area Contact John “Mr. Williamsburg” Womeldorf at (757) 254-8136 or John@MrWilliamsburg.com and we’ll get you started.
To schedule a visit to see homes/ neighborhoods in the Williamsburg or Hampton Roads VA area call/text 757 254 8136 or email John@MrWilliamsburg.com