For this adventure, which began in early 2017 as a thought exercise—then quickly became an obsession—to be viable, finding the right place for a literary arts center was the first and most important step.
The optimal spot would be sufficiently removed from the chaos (of the city), but not sequestered (in the country) to the extent that it’s isolated from other places and people. In short, a place that both complements and enhances the mission of the center.
After months of research and myriad not-so-close calls, I finally found it.
The property, on S. Braddock St. in Winchester, is ideally located: walkable to diverse establishments and the town’s walking mall, with access to bike trails, hiking, proximity to vineyards, exploration and even, if desired, the cities in and around D.C. It even came with readymade mascots which, to my cat-loving wife, was the first undeniable indication (no kittens were adopted, much to my wife’s chagrin).
Walking around the property, it was immediately obvious this was the spot: a series of buildings that provided space for private rooms, common areas, and a peaceful, private garden area—perfect on practical and aesthetic levels. It’s already fully-formed, but with the anticipated (and necessary) makeover, it should prove even better than anything I could reasonably have hoped for.
Added bonus: the city of Winchester affords so much history and culture a person could spend weeks there and barely scratch the surface. The fact that one of these buildings thrived for years (in a different era; a different century) as a typewriter shop put the vision—and karmic implications—over the top: this must be the place.
Last and not least, any city that has five thriving brew pubs, a historic library, an independent bookshop and a live railroad cutting through the center of town (among many other attractions) is too good to be true. VCLA has found a home!
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