Winchester, Virginia was the home of Virginia Hensley, the woman the world knows as country music legend Patsy Cline.
Cline was the first solo female member of the Grand Ole Opry (1960) and the first female Country Music Hall of Fame inductee (1973). Her hit song, “Crazy,” was written by Willie Nelson and is still the number one jukebox hit of all time.
Patsy Cline’s home, now the Patsy Cline Historic House, is where she lived, slept and spent her “prime years” (1948-53) while pursuing her career. Visitors enter her home, rather than a museum, to find the cupboards stocked with Quaker Oats and other staples in vintage containers.
A 30- to 45-minute guided tour shows off Cline’s clothes, jewelry, newspaper articles and more in rooms with original furnishings, set up just the way any home would be. Purchase a souvenir from the gift shop and be sure to take a seat on the front porch glider for a photo reminiscent of Patsy’s (above).
Hear from the people in Winchester who knew Patsy Cline the best, including her brother-in-law Mel Dick, by watching the video below.
To explore and learn more about Patsy Cline, check out Crazy for Patsy Cline – an itinerary for those wanting to explore all things Patsy in Winchester.
Virginia “Ginny” Patterson Hensley would be 80 years old this September 8. “Who is that?” you’re no doubt asking. It’s Patsy Cline, of course, and her home in Winchester, Virginia - the only tourist site in the country dedicated to the iconic singer – is now a museum open for touring and paying respects.
Patsy on the front porch of 608 S. Kent Street, now The Patsy Cline Historic House.
John Handley High School (425 Handley Blvd.) is where Patsy struggled to earn an education. She dropped out at age 16 to help support her family. Working the soda fountain at Gaunt’s Drugstore (S. Loudoun St. & Gerrard St.) was one of Patsy’s jobs during her teenage years.
The home you’ll see (but can’t tour) at 720 S. Kent Street is the one in which Patsy married Charles Allen Dick. You can also see the Winchester Star at 2 N. Kent Street, which is where Charles worked as a linotype operator.
Patsy’s parents, Samuel Lawrence Hensley and Hilda Virginia Patterson Hensley, are interred at National Cemetery (401 National Avenue). Shenandoah Memorial Park (1270 Front Royal Pike) is where you’ll find Patsy’s final resting place. Folks leave pennies on her headstone for good luck.
A glimpse inside The Patsy Cline Historic House.
A Little About Patsy
Ginny took the stage name Patsy when a radio personality gave her a chance to tour regionally with his band, Melody Boys and Girls. When she married Gerald E. Cline in 1953, she became Patsy Cline.
Patsy’s first 45 single, released in 1954, was not successful, but in 1955 she was able to take the stage with Jimmy Dean on a 30-minute music variety television program in the Washington DC area. The spotlight moment launched her onto Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts in 1957 where she took the prize with “Walkin’ After Midnight”. The beginning of her musical career met the end of her marriage.
In September 1957 Patsy married Charles Allen Dick. The birth of their first child put her career on hold for a time, but in 1959 the family moved to Nashville. In 1960 Patsy became a regular on the Grand Ole Opry and in 1961 “I Fall to Pieces” topped the country charts and landed at number 12 on the pop charts.
An automobile accident critically injured Patsy in June 1961, but she made it back into the studio by August to record “Crazy” – a song written by Willie Nelson that would rise to number two on the country charts and number nine on the pop charts. In December, “She’s Got You” was recorded and would become her second number-one country hit.
Over Patsy’s career she was seen performing with Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash and George Jones. She landed appearances on American Bandstand and played Carnegie Hall. By 1963 she had more than 100 recordings under her belt.
March 5, 1963 was Patsy’s last day as the plane she was aboard crashed in Tennessee. Her remains were buried in Winchester.
Like many performers lost too soon, Patsy’s notoriety came after her death:
Country Music Hall of Fame, 1973 – first solo female elected
Virginia Folk Music Association’s Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame, 1981
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Lifetime Achievement Award, 1995
Grammy Hall of Fame, 1992 for “Crazy” and 2001 for “I Fall to Pieces”
United States Commemorative Stamp, 1993
Hollywood Walk of Fame, 1999
“Crazy” is the number one jukebox hit of all time.
Staunton, Virginia is quickly garnering attention as a performing arts and cultural hot spot, and here are two more reasons why: Heifietz International Music Institute and Staunton Music Festival.
Cellist Ralph Kirshbaum. Heifetz International Music Institute.
Heifetz International Music Institute is a unique program found only in Virginia. The Institute brings 62 advanced students of the violin, viola and cello to Staunton for six weeks of intensive lessons, practicing and performances. The students learn from the best musicians from around the world, including founder Daniel Heifetz, who converge on Staunton to share their skills and perform as well.
Music lovers can enjoy student performances at the free Stars of Tomorrow Concerts. Take your seat at Mary Baldwin College’s Francis Auditorium July 28 at 3 p.m., August 1 at 7:30 p.m., August 4 at 3 p.m. or August 8 at 7:30 p.m.
In addition, the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library will host free lunchtime concerts. Bring your lunch and listen to performances July 30 and August 6 at noon.
Staunton Music Festival Artistic Director Carsten Schmidt conducting Handel's Semele at Blackfriars Playhouse in 2007. Photo by Tommy Thompson.
When Heifetz wraps up, the Staunton Music Festival kicks off its 15th year, beginning August 17 and running through August 25. It’s a nine-day celebration of chamber music performed by 50 world-class performers in intimate settings — just the way chamber music was written to heard. Festival goers can expect works by the master composers, lesser known composers and perhaps new, challenging pieces.
The Ingalls Field Airport will host a display of cars, trucks, motorcycles and tractors – all competing for the coveted Peoples’ Choice Award. In addition, airplane rides and two flight simulators put you in the cockpit while flying lawnmowers and aerial acrobat performances thrill the crowd. Bring a chair, kick back and relax with the music of Daryn Burkholder (country), The Announcers (gospel) and Moonshine Express (country). Food will be available, as will children’s activities.
All day admission to Wings and Wheels is affordable at $5 per car or $10 per van or bus.
Perhaps planes and automobiles aren’t your thing, or maybe it’s the country and gospel music that doesn’t suit your taste. If that’s you, turn to Garth Newel Music Center for Viola Extravaganza! on August 4 at 5 pm. Enjoy the compositions of Mozart, Granados, Lavenda, and Bach performed by six talented musicians.
Tickets for Viola Extravaganza! are $22 for adults, $10 for students 13-18, and free for children 12 and younger. If you’d enjoy dinner after the concert, the combination ticket is $75 for adults, $63 for students and $53 for children. Buy Tickets
Regardless of which event you choose to attend, The Homestead is the place to enjoy an overnight stay.
Check out their new activities including Allegheny Springs, a family fun water area with pools, slides, a lazy river and sandy beach. Two can stay one night, enjoy two tube rentals and access to Allegheny Springs for just $279. Book Now
Admit it. You love baby animals and your kids do, too. So where can you go to see baby animals? In addition to the zoos in Virginia, there are other places to spot new sweet faces.
Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton
At the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton you’ll visit working farms each with buildings moved from its country of origin and reconstructed on site. “Visit” 1600s England, 1700s Ireland, Germany and West Africa, and America from the 1700s through the 1850s, including rare breeds grazing along with their new young ones.
Visitors to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg will find more than great roller coasters and performances. Beautiful animals call the park home, like the Gray Wolves of Wolf Valley, or the Black Clydesdales and Scottish Blackface Sheep of Highland Stables.
The Stables welcomed a new member to the Clydesdale family in April. Aidan was born to mother Panola and father Dakota on April 20. At just over a month old Aidan weighed in at 250 lbs. Once fully grown, he will weigh up to 2,000 lbs.
Also born this spring at Busch Gardens were five Scottish Blackface lambs – Lia, Coara, Bryce, Lily, and Rhosyn. See the clip below from the Inside Busch Gardens blog of the lambs at play. Additionally, two African Pygmy Hedgehogs were born at BG this spring, and good golly are they cute (pic)! If there could be anything cuter, it’s that baby hedgehogs are called hoglets!
Baby animals in the wild are not hard to find in Virginia. Any day trip across Skyline Drive or the Blue Ridge Parkway will yield families of wildlife living their lives.
Bears on Skyline Drive and Deer at Peaks of Otter
To the right are a bear and her three cubs on Skyline Drive, as well as a doe and her fawn at Peaks of Otter.