What follows is not your typical “home for sale listing”. Hopefully you will find this in-depth homeowners story helpful in finding your perfect home.
“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.”
Nancy reminisces about when she and her husband, Troy, hosted parties or neighborhood supper clubs in their Powhatan Woods home. Often the men would head for the adjoining family room, sometimes to watch TV, while the women would gather around the kitchen table, within sight of the men, but engrossed in a wholly different type of interaction.
“We’d share our life stories, what was going on and what challenges we were facing. We talked about so much, the good news and the bad news, at that table,” Nancy says.
“I also think about quieter times spent there doing Christmas cards and thank you notes and paying bills,” she continues. “And it was all where I could look out the sliding glass door and see the birds, or sometimes my neighbors, and just feel connected.”
Moving From The Country To Williamsburg. Those fond memories date back to 2002, when Nancy and Troy built the two-story Colonial with a main floor open concept. For twelve years, the couple and their two sons had lived in tiny, bucolic Surry, where Troy worked for the Dominion Surry Power Station. Each weekday, Nancy and her boys would ride the Surry ferry to get to Nancy’s job with the James City County Parks and Recreation and the boys’ Williamsburg school, Walsingham Academy. But as the boys got older, developing more ties to Williamsburg with sports programs, the couple decided it was time to move the family to Williamsburg and have Troy make the daily ferry commute.
“We knew about Powhatan Secondary because the boys’ babysitter lived nearby,” Nancy notes. “And we knew they were building this whole new section called Powhatan Woods. We loved its proximity to the trails, parks, and shopping, and to where I was going to be working. It was also within five or six miles of my husband having to get on the ferry, so we knew it was going to be very easy for getting around.”
Another factor was the schools. Although their sons ended up staying at Walsingham, Nancy and Troy initially considered sending them to public schools, and the top-notch ones serving Powhatan Woods were another draw. Current Williamsburg/ JCC schools are Matoaka Elementary, James Blair Middle and Jamestown High School
The primary need for the new house was space. The couple wanted a home large enough to accommodate visits by friends and their large extended family.
“I come from a family of six kids — my family was all on the West Coast at the time we built — and Troy has a huge extended family in Kentucky,” Nancy explains. “So, we knew that whenever they came, whether for a graduation or a wedding, we’d probably have as many as 25 people sleeping here at a time.”
Nancy and Troy wanted a new home, and chose Centex’s two-story, 3,100 square-foot Windsor model to build on a corner cul-de-sac lot.
“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.”
The 4-bedroom, 2.5-bath Colonial style home includes an office, eat-in kitchen, family room, formal dining room, and half bath on the main floor. The second level includes four bedrooms and a large bonus room that was initially a playroom and now serves as a guest bedroom.
“There’s nice storage off that playroom,” Nancy points out. “We stored all of the boys’ toys and sports equipment and our Christmas decorations there. It’s great to have that easy access storage space and not have to go up into the attic.”
The only modification the family made was to create a side entrance to the two-car garage to make it easier to get in and out from the cul-de-sac.
The Perfect Setting. “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.
Although the deck off the kitchen is technically on the home’s side, Nancy considers it to be more like the front of the house, and the spot where friends and family congregate. “That’s where we spend all our time, sitting on that deck,” Nancy says, noting that she and her neighbors have landscaped with large trees that provide sufficient privacy.
The Ellis yard includes a huge River Birch in the front, surrounded by crepe myrtles, and there is a wooded area with four or five species of trees along the corner of the house. Nancy, who served as a County Parks administrator before recently retiring after 33 years, loves nature and working outside, and has planted numerous bulbs and perennials such as hydrangeas and evergreen hollies.
“The side yard is where all the birds are,” Nancy adds, noting she and Troy attached bluebird boxes to the deck, enticing bluebirds to nest there several times a year. “The birds are unbelievable out here. We get to sit on the deck and watch the action, and it’s almost like there’s a thoroughfare between our house and the house next door where all the birds – like cardinals and chickadees and bluebirds — fly through. We also can see our neighbors walking the neighborhood and can visit with them. And we can watch the sunset from our deck. It’s just beautiful.”
A Home For Family Celebrations. As Nancy had hoped, her large home has been the site of many family celebrations. When her nephew got married last summer, she and Troy hosted pre-wedding dinners with 50 to 70 guests in the kitchen/family room/deck area. Another time, they hosted a Fourth of July engagement celebration, setting up cornhole and other games in the front and side yards for the party of 30 to enjoy.
Nancy’s favorite memory, though, is of her California family visiting prior to heading to Nags Head for a family beach week. “We had about 25 people in beds and sleeping bags everywhere in the house, but there was enough space for everyone to sleep. I think we had five people just in the large playroom,” she says. “And, since we have double ovens, we were able to cook huge meals for the family. We stayed up all night long visiting, and had such a great time.”
A Place For Neighborhood Friendships. Nancy says Powhatan Woods is conducive to building friendships. For many years, she and Troy were part of a neighborhood supper club (smaller now but still running), and at Halloween, they sit in front of a neighbor’s house to offer a communal hand-out of candy to the approximately 75 children who make the rounds.
For Thanksgiving, the Ellises gather neighbors and family to their house for dinner. “Probably the most we ever had was about 26 people. We just add tables end-to-end across the dining room, through the foyer and into the office so we can all sit together. That became a fun joke: how many can we get at this long table?”
The diverse neighborhood, which ranges from families to military and “snowbirds” from all over the U.S., offers many organized activities. “There are swim teams, book clubs, the pool, cookouts, and barbeques,” Nancy points out. “They’re always having activities for people in the neighborhood.”
The community has three man-made ponds, all connected and stocked with fish, and a small ramp for paddle craft such as kayaks.
So Much To Do Nearby. Nancy loves to walk the mile from her house to Veteran’s Park, which has trails, basketball courts, and a huge playground called Kidsburg. “I spent part of my career developing and managing that park, and it always feels good to see people enjoying it,” she says. “There are so many different folks up there, like families and retirees playing pickleball. It gives me a sense of pride in having had a little hand in making that happen.”
Nancy and Troy, like many from Powhatan Woods, also walk or bike to nearby shopping at Target, Wal Mart and TJ Maxx. Three miles away is Colonial Williamsburg, which she and Troy often visit, especially in winter when it’s quiet and peaceful. Another favorite spot is Jamestown Beach, about six miles away, where they enjoy kayaking in the marina. And the Capital Trail, also six miles away, is a favorite of Nancy’s biking enthusiast brother-in-law.
“There’s so much within about a 5-mile drive or bike ride of our house,” Nancy says. “It’s really unbelievable how many opportunities there are for outdoor recreation in this community. And that’s what my husband and I just enjoy doing.”
Time To Reunite In South Carolina. Although Nancy and Troy love their Powhatan Woods home, it has been a challenge to stay there for the past nine years. That’s when Troy took a job with Duke Energy in South Carolina, and the couple started commuting between the two states. Now that Nancy is retired and their kids are out of college, it’s time to reunite in at their South Carolina home. “Even though I love Williamsburg, I’d rather live with my husband right now,” Nancy says with a chuckle.
To sell their home, they sought help from John “Mr. Williamsburg” Womeldorf, whom they knew through friends and community activities. “I always heard he was a very good realtor, and his track record is very good,” Nancy says. “People had good things to say about him.”
But it’s not easy for Nancy to leave.
“This neighborhood is just top-notch in the entire County,” she says. “I like that there are varying house sizes depending on what you need. So, you don’t have to have a 5-bedroom house, you could have a smaller home, and still feel part of the community and enjoy the amenities.”
“There are so many activities for people to do with their families within a 5-mile radius and they don’t cost anything,” she adds. “I think that’s a big benefit. The affordability of this neighborhood as well as the surrounding area nearby make it a great opportunity for a family coming here.”
Read more about the Powhatan Secondary neighborhood here
Psst, Mr Williamsburg is a different sort of real estate agent.
This post was authored by local resident and REALTOR, John Womeldorf. John is known around town as Mr. Williamsburg, for both his extensive knowledge of the Williamsburg/ Hampton Roads/ Richmond VA area and his expertise helping buyers and sellers in the local real estate market.
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Map location below for 217 George Wythe