Monday, May 23, 2022

Where We Live: A B&B just steps from Colonial Williamsburg

After only a couple of visits to Colonial Williamsburg in his teens, Tom Patton fell in love with the area. He vowed to return to the area whenever he could and possibly live here one day.

Tom was born with a love of history. “I was just that kid who loved the field trips to historical sites in school,” he said.

He made good on that promise after retiring from the Air Force in 1997. He and his wife, Sue, decided to leave their longtime home in Delaware and fulfill Tom’s dream to live in the colonial area.

When scoping out neighborhoods prior to their move, the Pattons found themselves attending Mass at St. Bede’s when Sue had an idea.

“We knew we wanted to move here, but we weren’t sure what we would do for work, and I had just had this thought come to me during church that we could run a bed and breakfast,” Sue said.

Acting on her intuition, Sue left church and knocked on the doors of a few local B&Bs in Williamsburg to learn more about the business. She thought her idea was doable.

And then the perfect opportunity presented itself. A six-bedroom, 5.5 bath, three-story colonial within walking distance to the Historic Area was available. It already had the necessary permits to be operated as a B&B.

“We made an offer, moved in on June 21 and had our first guest July 1,” Sue said.

“The neat thing about this is that we just jumped into it,” she continued. “Being innkeepers came naturally to us. Hospitality must run in our genes, with Tom’s grandmother running a boarding house and with me growing up helping with my family’s restaurant.”

They named their home The Aldrich House Bed & Breakfast, est. 1997.

The Pattons didn’t have to do much to the home to in terms of renovations, though they’ve managed to transform the inside into a colonial masterpiece paying homage to the town Tom loves so much. A portrait of George Washington hangs over the mantel, hand-painted murals depicting Duke of Gloucester Street and the Capitol frame parts of the ceiling.

The bed and breakfast located off Capitol Landing Road is tucked away in a small neighborhood only minutes from Colonial Williamsburg. The Pattons not only ran a successful inn at the house for the past 21 years, but also raised their children there.

The only thing they regret is not keeping a journal of all the exceptional people who have stayed with them.

“We’ve met so many people we wouldn’t have met otherwise,” said Tom. “That’s another great thing about this area, it attracts people from all over the world. We’ve had guests from Iceland to Australia. We’ve had gold medal athletes stay here and people who designed the first Mars rover.”

Since their move here in 1997, the Pattons have immersed themselves in the city’s culture and history. In addition to running the inn, Sue worked at a couple of Colonial Williamsburg’s taverns and at the Cheese Shop for many years. Tom is a a certified tour guide and has enjoyed working as the program coordinator for Historic Jamestowne. They both enjoy sharing history with their guests and serving as concierges for the Williamsburg area.

“It’s been a good journey,” said Sue.

Now it’s time for the Pattons’ next phase of their lives: true retirement. Since they moved to Williamsburg for Tom’s love of history, they’re now headed to Surry to live on the water — a dream of Sue’s.

As for the inn, the Pattons hope the right buyer will see its potential.

“There are so many things that can be done with this property,” Tom said. “It would be great for a big family, or it could be run as an Airbnb or maintained as a bed and breakfast.”

The listing for the property can be found here.

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