When Patsy Cline died in a plane crash in 1963 she was only 30 years old. Despite her young age, she had such an outsized influence on country music – on popular music in general – that it’s a little startling to see her childhood home. Just like so many typical houses in small towns, with typical front porches, on typical narrow streets. But there was nothing typical about Patsy Cline.
She grew up in Winchester, Virginia, about 10 miles south of the West Virginia line along Route 50, and just off Interstate 81. Before she left for Nashville to seek her music fortune, she lived on South Kent Street, went to nearby Handley High School, and worked as a soda jerk at Gaunt’s Drugstore – all in and around downtown Winchester.
Her childhood home has been turned into a small museum, and the curators there can guide you to those other “Patsy Cline highlights” in town (and, with very little prodding, to the G&M Music Store where she first recorded, and the local radio station where she performed early in her career). And just a few miles south of the center of town is where she’s buried, at Shenandoah Memorial Park. There her fans and admirers have erected a giant bell tower to commemorate her place in this highway town, and her place in music.
If you go visit the cemetery you can’t miss the bell tower, but it’s easy to miss her actual grave. She’s buried in an unassuming plot right behind the on-site funeral home. The museum folks recommend you bring a penny to her for luck, and given the number of pennies scattered over her grave and balanced on the bell tower marker, she seems to be spreading a lot of luck around.
Know Before You Go
Just a few blocks from downtown Winchester, about 10 miles south of the West Virginia line, just off I-81