The day we spent in the small town of Staunton stands out. It wasn’t remarkable in any particular way, it was just a really pleasant day with a nice mix of activities. I have noticed in traveling, that some places just hit me with a particular fondness and it is not because they have outstanding attractions. They just strike the right chord, like Staunton did. I am starting off with a picture of dogwood flowers, the state flower of Virginia. While traveling around we found them blooming all over.
We started out at the birthplace and presidential museum of Woodrow Wilson. I am certainly increasing my knowledge of the presidents on this trip which was woefully lacking before I left. One exception is Teddy Roosevelt. One year I read a couple of books on him before visiting his former homes in North Dakota and New York City. The picture above is the gate to the garden in back of the birth place and our entrance from the parking area.
Wilson was born December 28, 1856 in Staunton but did not live here very long. When he was a year old, his father, a minister of the local Presbyterian church took a job at a church in Augusta Georgia. The furnished home which can be toured gives a good look at life at the turn of the century in a small Virginia town. Next door to the house is a gift shop and small museum regarding the life and works of President Wilson. It was actually nice to be able to look at a museum fairly quickly and not have many displays to concentrate on. Sometimes my brain gets tired from all the history we are seeing and learning about!
Wilson is considered the most educated American president. He is the only president to complete a PhD (history and political science) and after teaching, became the president of Princeton University. Other than Teddy Roosevelt, he has written the most books, some have been used as college text books. Wilson was elected governor of New Jersey and served as President of the U.S. for two terms. During his first term, he tried to keep the country neutral when World War I broke out in Europe. After the U.S. had to enter the war, he worked to bring about peace with the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations. He always hoped the U.S. would enter the League but was unable to gather support from American citizens. For his efforts, he received the Nobel Peace Prize. He suffered a stroke during his second term and it is believed that Wilson’s wife worked in the background taking over some of his duties. After leaving office he lived in Washington D.C. and died several years later. He is the only U.S. president buried in D.C.
Perhaps the best display here is the Pierce Arrow car, a favorite of Wilson’s. He first rode in the car made in 1919 when returning from France after negotiating the Treaty of Versailles. The car had been a gift to Washington D.C. After Wilson left office, five of his former Princeton classmates bought the car for him. It is kind of amusing though, that Wilson never had a driver’s license. The car is still driven each year in special Staunton parades including July 4th.
Staunton is known as the “Queen City” of the Shenandoah Valley, located near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We found it to be a great place to walk around and we headed to the Main Street for lunch and exploring. There are a number of historic buildings here as Staunton was founded in the mid 1700’s. We dropped in to a few stores and the owner of the game/model shop told us that we needed to see the inside of the bank building down the street. When I asked him where it was, he said he would show us and left the store unattended and walked down with us to the National Valley Bank building built in 1903. He pointed out the stained glass ceiling and ornate molding – indeed it is a beautiful building.
I am like a magnet to historical churches and fell for the Trinity Episcopal Church, built in 1855. This is the third church building on the spot as the church was founded in 1746 and the oldest congregation in Staunton.
Inside are a number of Tiffany stained glass windows that I spent time looking at. A lady working at the church showed me that Tiffany himself put his signature in the bottom corner of the window below.
I was happy to catch a picture of the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church with a hillside of puffy dandelions in front. The church has a very dramatic and prominent steeple.
I really like how the churches in Virginia decorate their doors with wreaths. This has been a common theme as we have traveled this state so I got a picture of one Staunton church we walked by that also had wreaths on the doors.
We ended our afternoon in Staunton with pupusas at a very small Salvadoran Restaurant called Gloria’s Pupseria. It was a little hard finding the place but eventually our walk got us there. When I found out there were pupusas to be had in Staunton I was determined to find the place as we really like them. For those that don’t know, pupusas are a thick corn tortilla made with masa dough and stuffed with a filling. The filling choices are usually pork, chicken, beans, cheese, vegetables or a combination of those items. They are then cooked on a griddle till browned and served with a marinated cabbage slaw and hot sauce. We planned to get them to go for dinner that night, but we couldn’t resist sitting down and eating one before we left. Mark and I joked that we had a multi ethnic day with Pho soup for lunch and pupusas for dinner.
I’ll finish this post with a picture from a viewpoint on our drive back to our RV park through the Blue Ridge foothills. A beautiful view of the valley and hills below.
Thanks for stopping in! One more post of Virginia to come as I write about the famous Civil War site of Appomattox before moving on to Maryland. Hopefully you are not too tired of reading about Virginia, but it has been a state with much to offer!