Sixteen years ago when Chuck Williams and his family moved from northern Virginia to Williamsburg, one thing was certain – they wanted a colonial-style house.
“We’ve always been drawn to historical homes,” Williams said.
After looking for nearly six months, they came across an ad featuring an all-brick, older home that looked like it needed some TLC.
“We drove by the house, and it was all overgrown, but there was a tire swing hanging in the front yard, and it was just so charming,” Williams said. “The house wasn’t charming though at the time.”
It needed quite a bit of work, but Williams said he knew from the first time he saw it that it had character.
“We loved the little square windows and the dormers, and once we saw past the work we had to do, we fell in love,” he said. “We put in an offer the day we saw it and immediately started doing stuff. We were pulling up carpet while movers were carrying things past us.”
As they began adding their colonial touches to the homes with furniture, décor and paint colors, they got to know their neighbors and learned something that made them love their home — and their neighborhood — even more.
“We found out that we lived in a jail,” Williams said with a laugh.
Well, not literally, but the story of Williamsburg West is interesting nonetheless.
Planned in the 1960s, Williamsburg West — located off Longhill Road — was to provide homes for 3,000 and include a golf course, a country club and other amenities. The road leading into the neighborhood is even named “Country Club Road.”
It would’ve been one of Williamsburg’s first “planned communities” pre-dating Kingsmill, Ford’s Colony and Governor’s Land – if it had gotten off the ground.
Work never progressed after the first section, and although work began on a golf course, it was never finished. The developer filed for bankruptcy, and in the 1980s, much of the land originally planned for Williamsburg West was incorporated into Ford’s Colony. The country club was never built
Williams was told the first five homes built as part of Williamsburg West were built to look like buildings in Colonial Williamsburg.
Neighbors told Williams his home was a part of the original five, and its exterior was modeled after the historic Public Gaol “jail” in Colonial Williamsburg. The other four were modeled after taverns.
Williams and his family embraced the history and even found a vintage padlock and key set to hang on the back side of the home as decoration.
“We thought about buying a stockade,” Williams joked.
Though Williamsburg West didn’t turn out to be the carefully planned, amenity-filled community that its original investors imagined, it did continue to grow and has a great location close to schools, recreation and Route 199.
“It’s just an awesome, little unsung neighborhood,” Williams said.
More about the home here.