Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area
One of the most interesting sites in Virginia is Colonial Williamsburg. The town, founded in 1633, was capital of the colony at one time. Its great charm lies not only in the 88 restored and over 50 reconstructed 18th c. buildings but also because it is a living museum, whose "inhabitants", wearing period costume, go about their daily business as cobblers, smiths, barbers, printers, shopkeepers, innkeepers and so on. The handsomest and most historic buildings are the Capitol (1705) and the Governor's Palace (1720). Outside the historic center is the College of William and Mary (founded 1693), with the oldest academic building in the United States, the Wren Building (1695-9).If you merely want to stroll about the streets of Colonial Williamsburg (best access on the east side, on North Henry St.) without going into any of the buildings, there is no charge. For admission to the buildings it is necessary to buy a (fairly expensive) ticket at the Visitor Center.
Colonial Williamsburg - Duke of Gloucester Street
For those planning a visit to Colonial Williamsburg, the Duke of Gloucester Street will become very familiar. It is the main street that runs through Colonial Williamsburg and in just over 1 mile, visitors will see some of the most historical sights in the town ranging from the Bruton Parish church to the Pasteur & Galt Apothecary shop.
The Raleigh Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg was the other social hot spot besides the Governor's Palace. Originally constructed around 1717, the tavern was the place to go in town to find out the latest gossip. As with most of the buildings in Colonial Williamsburg fire was a real threat, and the tavern burned down in 1859. It was reconstructed and opened in 1932 to resemble the original structure and today interpreters recreate the scene much as it was in the 18th Century.
Those looking for a good time in the mid 18th Century in Colonial Williamsburg didn't have to venture too far as Wetherburn's Tavern and the Raleigh Tavern were right across the street from one another. Wetherburn's Tavern was, like its competition, the social hub of the town and many activities such as balls were held there. During the restoration in the early 20th Century, nearly 200,000 artifacts were found on the original site.
The Wren Building located at Colonial Williamsburg is the oldest active educational building in the United States. The Wren Building was originally built in 1695, however, like most of Colonial Williamsburg it burnt down several times. The existing structure was completed in 1732 and looks much the same today as it did then. The 1st floor of the Wren Building is open, however, the upper floors are off limits as classes at the College of William and Mary take place on a daily basis.
Foundry & Silversmith
Located behind the James Geddy House is the Geddy Foundry. This foundry was built around the middle of the 18th Century and has been recreated for today's visitors. Costumed interpreters now provide fascinating displays of workmanship to adoring crowds. Around the same time as the foundry operated, the son's of James Geddy also operated a silversmith shop.
The Wigmaker at Colonial Williamsburg provides a fascinating glimpse into the process of creating wigs from human, goat, horse, or yak hair. Wigs were considered an element of proper dress such as a tie according to the fashion in the 18th Century. Visitors can see the costumed interpreters creating actual wigs the way it was done 200 years ago.
When in Colonial Williamsburg be sure to stop in at the Bootmaker/Shoemaker. The shop is a re-creation of a shop from 1774 and here you will find interpreters practicing their craft before your very eyes. The Interpreters can answer just about any question you may have with regards to what they are doing.
The Capitol Building is located on the grounds of Colonial Williamsburg. Admission to the building is included with your fee to enter Colonial Williamsburg. The Capitol building was built in the mid 18th Century and replaced two earlier buildings both destroyed by fire.
Chowning's Tavern was first opened in Colonial Williamsburg in 1766 and aimed at common folk. Today the restaurant tries to recreate this idea, serving tradition English fare, and featuring "Gambols," in the evening; colonial games and fun traditions.
Courthouse of 1770
The historic Williamsburg Courthouse, the first courthouse in Williamsburg, was built in 1771. The courthouse is known for both the historical events that have taken place here and for the architecture of the building itself, which was unique at the time. The Declaration of Independence was read from the courthouse.
Visit the Pasteur & Galt Apothecary Shop to learn about the role of the apothecary in the 18th Century. The first apothecary shop in Williamsburg was set up in 1759. At that time apothecaries functioned as doctors treating patients and performing surgeries.
Magazine and Guardhouse
The Magazine and Guard House are both located in Colonial Williamsburg. The Guardhouse is a red brick building that once housed guards and has been carefully restored to its original appearance. The octagonal Magazine was built in 1715, fell into disuse and disrepair by 1889, but was restored and reopened in 1949.
The Milliner's Shop located in Colonial Williamsburg will be the haunt of any fashionistas interested in trendy clothing, albeit from the 1700's. Here, in a restored shop, visitors will find talented interpreters creating fashionable clothing accessories. The Milliner's Shop is located on Duke of Gloucester Street.
Learn about Colonial coopers and the art of the trade at Colonial Williamsburg. See the cooper as he works on casks and pails, located at the Ludwell-Paradise Stable.
James Anderson Forge
James Anderson was among Virginia's most influential 18th-century craftsmen, serving as the public armourer for Virginia. His shop has 7 forges and employed close to 50 individuals.
James Geddy House and Foundry
The James Geddy Foundry has been reconstructed on original foundations in the yard to the rear of the James Geddy House. James Geddy Sr, sons William and David operated a silversmith business.
Bruton Parish Church
The Bruton Parish Church located in Colonial Williamsburg is one of the oldest Episcopal Churches in the United States.
Duke of Gloucester Street Surroundings
The area around the Duke of Gloucester Street is full of historic sites, with 88 restored colonial buildings.
George Wythe House
The George Wythe House is located in Colonial Williamsburg. This house, considered by many to be the finest in all of Williamsburg, was built in the mid 18th Century. Today visitors can wander through the home and experience what life would have been like in those times. The George Wythe House is furnished in period pieces and the interior decoration is much the same as it would have been in the 18th Century.
The Governor's Palace located in Colonial Williamsburg has had a turbulent history. The project to build the original structure started in 1706 and was completed in 1722. That building burnt down to its foundations and was replaced with a replica in 1934. During its tenure the Governor's Palace was the social center of Williamsburg, frequently hosting gala dinners and balls. A beautiful blue roof tops this square building with 5 windows facing outwards.
Colonial gunsmithing required the skills of a blacksmith, whitesmith, founder, and woodworker to do fine finishing work on iron and steel, to carve decorative designs, to hammer and cast brass and silver into complex shapes, and to engrave hard and soft metals. Gunsmiths often repaired axes and other items made by blacksmiths, cast shoe buckles and other items like bells, and sometimes repaired silver objects.
Bassett Hall located in Colonial Williamsburg is the former home of the Rockefellers. The 19th Century home has been restored and outfitted in the style of the 1930's & 40's. The grounds of the home have extensive gardens that feature beautiful flowering plants.
Actually called the James Anderson Blacksmith Shop, the attraction is located within Colonial Williamsburg. Here visitors are treated to a working blacksmith shop showing the tools of the trade. The noise, heat, dirt and dust are authentic and fascinating.
The Brush-Everard House in Colonial Williamsburg presents the life and times of the Thomas Everard. The house, built in 1718, has been meticulously restored to its appearance in 1773 when Everard lived there. The home is noted for its fine staircases and elaborately turned balustrades.
DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Gallery
The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Gallery includes the exhibition galleries as well as "the Public Hospital". This area looks at the history of mental illness, including theories and treatment. The Exhibition space displays American and British decorative arts. There is also an on site museum store.
Official site: www.history.org/History/museums/dewitt_gallery.cfm
Address: 325 Francis Street, Williamsburg, VA 23185, United States
Harness & Saddlemaker
Eighteenth-century saddlers prepared a variety of saddles (hunt saddles, plantation saddles, hussar saddles, and sidesaddles). A saddler's raw material was steerhide and his primary tools were the crescent-bladed round knife, the pricking iron, and the wooden-handled stitching awl.
Peyton Randolph House
The Peyton Randolph House located in Colonial Williamsburg has long been an enduring image of this very historic place. Originally built in 1715, the home was extensively renovated and restored in 1938 and 1967. The home is a dark red color and stands out against the backdrop of large trees.
The Wheelwright at Colonial Williamsburg provides a fascinating glimpse into the process of creating wheels. Visitors can see costumed interpreters hard at work at this ancient craft. The interpreters are happy to answer any questions and explain their work as they progress through the stages of creating a perfect wheel.
The Windmill at Colonial Williamsburg is closed to visitors, however the structure can be viewed from a distance. Once used to grind grain, this large white windmill makes for great photography. The Windmill is unique in its design as it is mounted on four large angular legs and has a round body where the blades are mounted.
The Cabinet Maker, called Hay's Cabinet Shop located in Colonial Williamsburg is a re-created shop from 1767. Here visitors find skilled interpreters creating cabinetry and harpsichords using tools from the 18th Century.
The Public Gaol at Colonial Williamsburg was built at the turn of the 18th Century and has housed some famous criminals including pirates from the ship Blackbeard. The building was in use until 1910 when it was decommissioned.
Public Hospital of 1773
The Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds is a reconstruction of the first public institution for the mentally ill to be built in Colonial America. It opened in 1773 and at first treated more prisoners than patients.
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum
The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum features changing exhibitions of American folk art.
Official site: www.history.org/history/museums/abby_art.cfm
Address: 326 West Francis Street, Williamsburg, VA 23185, United States
King's Arms Tavern
This colonial tavern, opened in 1722 and catered to Virginia's gentry and the politically influential before, during and after the Revolution.