Living in a campus housing has its advantages and disadvantages. There are the hall bathrooms, the loud music, the bunk beds, the occasional cockroach infestation —all conveniently close to friends and classes. But what about waking up every morning to the clapping of horse-drawn carriages? Just ask Katherine Goulde ’10 and Joy Thomas ’10, the newest residents of the College of William and Mary’s very own Colonial Williamsburg House.
“[Living here] has been so much fun,” Thomas said. “We were talking yesterday about how one of our favorite things is [that] a lot of times we would wake up and look out the window, and a carriage would roll by.”
“Yeah, things like that. [And] feeding the horses,” Goulde said.
“We have a bowl of apples to feed the horses across the street,” Thomas said with a smile.
The two seniors at the College currently live at Sir William Randolph Lodging, which has come to be known as the CW House. Located on East Nicholson Street in the heart of CW, the house was originally built in 1737 for Randolph, who moved to Williamsburg when it was still the capitol of Virginia. The house is as one of 800 private residences in the historic area and has served as student housing for the last five years.
“We’ve been making friends with our neighbors. General Lafayette lives right behind us there,” Thomas said, pointing out the window to an adjacent backyard. “He’s very fun to talk to.”
“We talk to him in the morning when we’re going to class,” Goulde said. “I think Joy talked to him about classes and such, and I talked to him about the Raleigh Tavern Bakery.”
Goulde and Thomas had to go through a special application process to live in the house, which is only open to rising seniors. They were selected last winter.
“We heard about [the CW House] our freshman year, and we kind of just kept it on our radar but never actually thought we would have a chance to live here until last year, a couple days before applications were due,” Thomas said.
“Joy called me up was like, ‘Katherine, I have this great idea,’” Goulde said. “I was like, ‘What is it?’ She’s like, ‘Do you want to apply to live in the Colonial Williamsburg House?’ And I was just like, ‘Yes, of course; let’s do it.’”
Like all other applicants, Goulde and Thomas participated in a competitive application process that involved two essays and a long interview with Residence Life and CW staff.
“And then they got back [to us] a week later,” Thomas said. “We got a phone call. It was so exciting.”
Despite a common misconception about CW House residents being history majors, neither Goulde nor Thomas is majoring in the humanities. Goulde is a mathematics and economics double major and Thomas is a neuroscience major.
“It’s just based on your enthusiasm and your program ideas,” Goulde said.
As part of their agreement to live in the historic district, Goulde and Thomas must organize programs that connect students at the College with CW.
So far, they have hosted an open house for incoming freshmen and transfer students during orientation and this past Saturday, an open house for families during Family Weekend.
“We were hoping to organize some William and Mary-exclusive tours of various places in Colonial Williamsburg,” Thomas said. “For example, we were talking to the gunsmith and hoping to set up something with him in the next couple months. I talked to the printer and the book binder. And then, we’re hoping to also target these programs to specific groups of students who might be more interested than others.”
Goulde also added that they plan to organize a “De-stress in CW” study break during exams in December.
A Grand Illumination reception will be the largest event they host this semester. Along with the fireworks display in CW on Dec. 6, the pair will host a small get-together at the House with hot chocolate, coffee, tea, hot cider, cookies and an a cappella performance.
“We [will] just invite any William and Mary community members who are interested to just to come down to our house [during Grand Illumination] and warm up,” Thomas said. “We’ll have the fire going. It will be festive, it’s one of our favorite times of the year.”
Their time in Colonial Williamsburg has also included several unwanted visitors. Tourists occasionally walk into the home without knocking, not realizing it is a private residence.
Thomas and Goulde have even been cornered in the house, unsure of whether to come out and ruin the historical aspect of the home or to just stay inside and wait until the tourists leave.
“We should have emergency colonial costumes,” Thomas quipped.
Nonetheless, they said their first month in CW has been memorable. Currently, Goulde is discussing with the master garderner whether or not to plant sunflowers in their courtyard alongside their herb garden. Thomas plans to borrow one of General Lafayette’s horses and ride to class someday.
“We talk about how lucky we are pretty much every day,” Thomas said.
For more information about the CW House, join Thomas’s and Gould’s listserv by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Their CW House blog can also be found under the blogs section on the College’s website.