The tour of the home and museum armed me with so many more Wilson facts. The very first thing I learned that Woodrow was not his first name... it was, in fact, his mother's maiden name. He changed it in law school because he did not want the nickname Tommy following him. Law school was not his last academic stop; he received his doctorate in history from Johns Hopkins (and as of today, he remains the only US President with a doctorate degree). I learned that his father was a minister with a deep southern routed history in the Civil War; that history and his stories certainly impacted Pres Wilson's views on war and explain his unwillingness to join WWI. Despite his southern views on women's roles in society, his second wife is believed to have managed his presidency following his third stroke. (fun fact about his second wife - also a widow and related to Pocahontas!) He created the federal reserve system that is credited with saving banking and the government's financial credibility... and to honor that, he was placed on the $100,000 bill (that is no longer made.)
Downtown Staunton is the epitome of that old bustling town of yesteryear. With fabulous architecture and
railroads. A local historian was quick to boast that back in the day, 85 businesses operated successfully on that main street. The town is filled with the giant Victorian homes from those past business owners. And with its fabulous city park lining the river, the town makes for a picturesque get-away.
Downtown today is still busy. Filled with restaurants, cafes, artists co-ops and antiquing havens, there is something for everyone there. I was immediately attracted to the artist made jewelry store, Pretty Pretty, filled with colorful and unique baubles for a variety of tastes. Filled with beads, minerals and other shiny trinkets, I found a wonderfully unique long necklace in spring colors that reminded me of the eventual flower bloom... I gave the piece a new home! The gourmet chocolate from the choculatier, Cocoa Mills, is highly recommended (amazing truffles); the smells of the shop are enough to make even the strongest willed salivate. The shop gives you a kick a energy to continue through all the shops on the
The grand daddy of Staunton cultural sites in the American Shakespeare Theatre Friars Club. At least six locals suggested it when I asked about things to see in town. Sadly I had not bought tickets nor had appropriate clothing for the theatre. Other "hot" spots around town included the local brewery, the park and of course the Woodrow Wilson house... all in all, it was a quick and worthwhile visit to Staunton - a gem in Virginia.