Escape to Winchester, VA: Nourishments for the soul –Food, music and wine or, how Patsy Cline’s loving arms picked me up on my way down


This is the second of a 3-part series.

I first fell for Winchester after a disappointing Thanksgiving.  The vision — a romantic weekend for two, strolling hand-in-hand, good food, wine and candlelight–had  gone “poof”; much like a severely overcooked Turkey that explodes once the knife is inserted. Instead there were three: me, myself and I.  The evening of my arrival found me mentally licking my wounds and caterwauling O solo mio on the top floor suite of Winchester’s Old Waterstreet Inn.  A balm for my soul was the fact that I was in Patsy’s hometown.

The Patsy Cline Historic House, located at 608 South Kent Street is where she lived as a teenager through young adult years, from 1948 to 1957.  It predates her successful singing career but is presented to the visitor as a testament to her love of family.  The lyrics of ballads sung by Patsy (Pick Me Up on Your Way Down; Crazy; Sweet Dreams and I Fall to Pieces) and others like her often lament lost loves.  Since my own romantic notions were dashed that weekend it seemed fitting that my plans to tour the house fell through as well.   It was late fall. The house was closed for the season. I lost out yet again.  I did not however, “fall to pieces.”

But even if visiting Patsy’s house is not on your “Top 10 places to visit” don’t let that discourage you from visiting Winchester.  For Revolutionary and Civil War history buffs, there are reminders of other distinguished visitors.  George Washington and Stonewall Jackson are but two.

Another “try not to miss this” sight is the Handley Regional Library, located on 100 West Piccadilly Street.  It has a number of treasures to take in.  It was opened in 1913, the legacy of a Pennsylvania Judge, John Handley.  Given the hefty sum of $250,000, a team of NY architects designed the Beaux-Arts style facility.  Inside you will find well-polished, warm brown furnishings, a spiral staircase, amazing ceilings and cozy reading rooms as well as art work.  On a bench in the entry hall sits a permanent occupant.  A most well-behaved child, she quietly sits and reads.   You’re bound to wonder: Whatever is the enchantment that has her spellbound forever?

exterior library
Exterior Architecture – Library
Interior dome of Library
Interior Library Dome
Little reader
Little Reader

Speaking of being entranced, for a small town Winchester is home to some very fine restaurants.  A meal that is well-prepared can hold the diner rapt, offer soothing balm to the soul and ultimately, satisfaction for the stomach. This holds true if dining alone or with company.   The day of my arrival at the Old Waterstreet Inn, Bed and Breakfast, Jeanne, my host, recommended several restaurants within walking distance from the inn.  I chose the Village Square Restaurant  which sits along the pedestrian walk-way in the historic district.   Not feeling my best, (I had a lingering headache from the day before), I braced myself for the cold night air and briskly strode towards it.

I stepped through the door and into intoxicating surroundings.   A pianist sat tucked in the corner by the front window.   Like ripples of water, mellow jazz tunes cascaded across his skilled fingers flowing out to soothe and pleasure.  The young hostess guided me to a table in a small back room; there I joined the only other diners, an elderly couple out for the evening.  I ate field salad dressed in light olive oil and balsamic vinegar, followed by an elegantly presented yet well-prepared Salmon dish.  A delicate, luscious Crème Brulee, one so good that, had I been at home, I would have licked clean of every tiny morsel, capped the meal.  Although I was alone the warm atmosphere, soothing background music and excellent food managed to lift both headache and spirit.

wreath on door

All photos courtesy of Valerie Carter

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