Where We Live: European-style villa in Governor’s Land-Williamsburg VA

In 1991, the Wall Street Journal ran an ad for Governor’s Land, which at the time was a brand-new neighborhood being developed in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Grace and Jack Kalberer, who were living around the DC metropolitan area at the time, decided to stop and check it out on their way down south to visit friends in North and South Carolina.

When the Kalberers visited the neighborhood, there was only one house standing and the couple had to be taken around by Jeep. But after being presented with plans for the neighborhood, which included roughly 738 future homes, they were sold.

In the early years of Governor’s Land, according to the Kalberers, it wasn’t the Williamsburg locals flocking to the neighborhood. It attracted people who loved Williamsburg from all over the country and beyond.

“We had a pioneer spirit among all our neighbors,” Grace said. “They came from Connecticut, New Jersey, California, from all over the country, and even some neighbors that we made friends with that lived in Europe.”

Grace said the combination of value and history sealed the deal for many.

“They loved the history,” she said. “They loved what it represented. And people from the North knew the value of the property would be much better than it would be in New Jersey, Connecticut, New York. They could get more house for their money here.”

The Kalberers currently live in the Club Villas, a section of Governor’s Land featuring distinct, villa-style homes. The house plans were a result of a design competition that called for smaller, European-inspired dwellings that would suit the neighborhood.

The winning builder came up with three different models for a total of eight units. Four of them, including the Kalberers, have a separate detached dependency unit, befitting of the European villa concept. The Kalberers were able to customize the home and work with an interior designer during the building process.

The home has two bedrooms in the main house and the dependency unit serves as a third. Grace furnished the efficiency, which has its own bathroom, with a small refrigerator and microwave so guests would be comfortable. When guests aren’t staying over, it is the perfect office space for Jack.

The home’s design was particularly well thought-out because it was built with senior living in mind. In addition to having a first-floor master suite, the front doors and bathroom doors are extra wide and the floor plan is very open to accommodate a wheelchair if needed.

The courtyard, which connects the main home with the efficiency, was a custom upgrade the couple added on when the home was being built. It takes advantage of the Kalberer’s unique lot, which is the only lot with a pond view in the Club Villas section.

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