Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Reasons to visit Winchester, Virginia

Winchester is a city I've driven through a few times, but it was usually en route to another place. Earlier in the month, we decided to make a trip to explore Winchester specifically. Turns out there is quite a bit to see. Unfortunately, it down-poured the day of our visit so we didn’t get to see everything we would have liked to but still saw a few places. It was enough to whet my appetite to want to see more. Would definitely love to make another visit, probably in the warmer months. 

In the meantime, here are some reasons we found to visit Winchester:

Old Courthouse Civil War Museum

I loved this museum! If you enjoy history, architecture, and learning about the Civil War, this museum has it all. A 19th-century courthouse that was active well into the 20th century, it served not only as a legal hub but also as a Civil War hospital. Due to Winchester's proximity in the northern region of Virginia, the building (and city) changed hands numerous times during the war. 

On the first floor is the old court itself. Parts of the structure are original, the rest reconstructed (wood was burned during the war) to look the way it would have. What was interesting to note was the way the court was structured, the positioning of those involved in trials was very different than what you'd see today.

The platform here is actually raised off the main floor. During the 19th century, the witness sat in the solo chair, the jury faced the witness and the plaintiff/defense sat behind the witness, possibly even sharing a table. The judge sat in front of that large window behind the jury's bench.

The second floor contains a lot of graffiti from Civil War soldiers. There is also an extensive collection of war memorabilia and relics on display. Kids will probably love the fact they can pull the rope and ring the court's bell.

Civil War era graffiti

Stonewall Jackson's Headquarters Museum

This museum was intriguing. It is a house Stonewall Jackson used as his office during the Civil War. I love old houses, so right there is a plus for me, but if you love history, particularly the Civil War era, this is a good place to see. You'll probably learn some not-so-known information during your tour. I visited during December during the seasonal and festive open house candlelight tours and it was a bit busy. This is one museum I'd like to go back to and take the regular tour.
The exterior of Jackson's headquarters in Winchester. He used the left front room as his office.

Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

A true gem with a lot to see. You can easily spend a few hours in this museum alone. There are plenty of art and history exhibits, even miniature (elaborate) homes. Additionally, there are some special exhibits. On my visit, there was an exhibit called, "Second Time Around: Hubcaps as Art" and another exhibit showcasing food safes made in the Shenandoah Valley.

Exhibit at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

George Washington's Office Museum

A small museum, but right in the center of town and easily accessible. This museum highlights where George Washington spent time during the Revolutionary War, it was close to a nearby fort in Winchester and the perfect location. The structure is interesting.

The historic district in the city looked like it had a number of interesting historical sites, architecture, and shopping, I look forward to my return trip (hopefully on a sunny day!)


  1. A fascinating area to visit at any time of the year. :)

  2. I know I only scratched the surface. I definitely want to do some of those house tours you've been on! Thanks for stopping by :)