There’s no place like home, and that’s Williamsburg

Frank Shatz is a Williamsburg resident. He has also worked at The Virginia Gazette for 38 years as an international affairs columnist and wrote a book about his life, “Reports from a Distant Place”. The following is an article he wrote about finding a home in Williamsburg.

It was 40 years ago that my wife and I were looking for a second home, one that ultimately would become our permanent home.

We found it in Williamsburg!

At that time, we lived in Lake Placid, New York, the site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. The mountains, lakes, the natural beauty surrounding us was captivating. But the long. harsh winters motivated us to look for a second home in a place with a more hospitable climate. And, something else …

After traveling widely across Europe and in the United States, and searching for that “ideal” place to settle, we found it in Williamsburg. But it was by accident.

We were on our way to visit Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, in Charlottesville, and on a whim, made a detour to Williamsburg.

We determined that the combination of all those elements would provide an opportunity for a lifestyle here not to be found easily anywhere else in the U. S.

Frank Shatz and his wife Jaroslava Shatz (File courtesy of Kate Hoving)

Taking long, leisurely walks in the Historic Area may not seem too exhilarating to some, but strolling through clean, safe streets free of motor vehicle traffic and pollution, surrounded by lovely gardens and well preserved artifacts of history is quite a privilege.

Colonial Williamsburg, the world’s largest outdoor museum, provides a milieu that is unique, uplifting and educational.

So is being able to contemplate nature from the comfort of a bench along the shores of the pond in the garden of the Royal Governor’s Palace. Then, as if stepping into a time machine, transplant yourself to a European-style sidewalk coffee house, on Merchants Square, for people watching.

For those who enjoy culture, Williamsburg offers a rich and varied diet. World renowned orchestras periodically give concerts here, famous soloist perform and the Bruton Parish Church offers a steady stream of baroque music. Theatrical performances and experimental plays produced, directed and played by William & Mary faculty and students offer another venue. Local galleries, and The Muscarelle Museum provide high quality exhibitions routinely. Dozens of art and craft shows take place throughout the year.

Those interested in literature have an opportunity to be part of William & Mary’s English Department sponsored Patrick Hayes Writers Series. Each year, the English Department invites contemporary professional writers and poets to share their work and experiences in the framework of the event.

Williamsburg revealed itself to us as a place of quite distinctive features. We found it to be an amalgam of carefully cultivated historic tradition and presence combined with an academic life which in turn is enhanced by an environment rich in natural beauty.

The Williamsburg Regional Library deserves special attention, as it is an important community asset. It is the quintessential; example of what a small public library ought to be. It has created an atmosphere conductive to the enjoyment of reading and serves as a haven for other community events.

There are also numerous other elements here that make life so convivial in Williamsburg. The profusion of places to dine out; the easy accessibility of spectacular countryside for outings at places like Jamestown, the battlefields in Yorktown, the historic plantations on the James River.

There are also some aspect of life here that are hard to classify, but make life richer and more enjoyable, namely the diversity of people you have a chance to meet and make friends with.

The answer to my own question of how ideal a place Williamsburg really is, is quite obvious. I am glad to have found it!

Frank Shatz’s book “Reports from a Distant Place,” the compilation of his selected columns is available at the Bruton Parish Shop and

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