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Staunton, VA

March 28 , 2007

Written May 17

Dear Friends and Families,


So far, in my working visit to Virginia, I've managed to see friends, relatives, including a very new one, and tour Roanoke and Appomattox. Now that Marianne was back from California, we wanted to see what else was within striking distance. We chose Staunton, Virginia, across the mountains in the Shenandoah Valley, not for any specific reason other than it seemed about the right distance away. It turned out to be a good choice.

While the town was founded in the 1700's, most buildings date from the 1870's through the 1920's, when the town prospered. Our hotel, Frederick House, was a collection of downtown buildings that have been combined to create a pleasant bed and breakfast. On Friday night, we went to The Dining Room restaurant, reportedly run by a chef who had escaped from New York. The food was indeed "big city", in both quality and price.

On Saturday we wandered through the streets and admired the turn-of the century buildings. We passed through the farmer's market and even managed to have a genuine German wurst sausage, home made by a pleasant German couple who let us practice our German. We also managed to wander through shops: gift, glass, antique, and junk.

However, Saturday's highlights were at the Blackfriars Playhouse of the American Shakespeare Center. In the afternoon, we helped celebrate William Shakespeare's 443rd birthday by taking a tour of the theatre, a replica of the indoor venue for many of The Bard's works. The tour gave us an appreciation for authentic presentation of 16th Century plays: little or no scenery, limited props, and a combination of natural and candle light that made the audience as visible as the actors. This last, along with the relatively small size of the stage, enabled a connection between actors and audience. That evening, we sat at the side of the stage for a performance of Cyrano de Bergerac, not Shakespeare, but a play from the same era. It was great fun. (If you intend to visit Blackfriar's, investigate the newly reopened Stonewall Jackson Hotel next door. At least from the lobby, it looks like luxurious accommodations.)

Please enjoy our pictures, and see if you get a feel for Staunton.

Downtown Staunton.
Farmer's Market
Junk store.
Hotel lobbies. Guess which one was ours.
The American Shakespeare Center's Blackfriars' Theatre and William's 443rd Birthday.
Tour "backstage" (actually downstairs) and the prop room.
Blackfriars' Theatre

John and Marianne.



-- Historic Staunton Foundation: http://www.staunton.va.us

--American Shakespeare Center: http://www.americanshakespearecenter.com

-- Frederick House B&B: http://www.frederickhouse.com

-- Stonewall Jackson Hotel: http://www.stonewalljacksonhotel.com

-- The Dining Room :http://www.thediningroomvirginia.com/


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