Welcome to Historic Williamsburg...
The summer of 2003 my family and I went on vacation to visit Williamsburg, at least that was the plan. Now myself, I'm the kind of person who packs two weeks ahead of time, so of course I went online to see what I could find out about Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. I couldn't seem to find very much, from a tourists point of view, so I went to my back up source, the AAA Auto Club. I picked up a book for Virginia, found the section covering the three towns and started to read. The more I read, the more I discovered how little I knew and the more I wanted to know.
Now, we've all had vacations and trips that were disappointing. Our expectations were high and the reality failed miserably. This was not the case with this trip. My expectations came no-where near the beauty and wonder of the reality. I thought I knew what to expect - how wrong I was!
I hope that people seeing these pages will go out of their way to visit these wonderful historical sites, you won't be disappointed. I would suggest one thing above all else, give yourself plenty of time. A week would be good, you might get to see it all. So far we've split our trip up into two different visits, if you don't count the time I took for pictures, it would have taken us three days so far. We have another visit planned soon for the rest of Yorktown, the Yorktown Victory Center and Williamsburg, we figure at least three more days maybe four. That's without visiting the beautiful plantation houses in the area, I can't even guess how long that would take, because there are a lot.
I really hope that these pages help someone in their research and you enjoy the pictures as much as we enjoyed the visit. As I mentioned, we haven't finished our "vacation" so the pages here are not complete, we still have Yorktown, Yorktown Victory Center and Williamsburg to visit.
I want to thank all the National Park personnel, the members of the Living History Museum as well as the other folks at the other places we visited, everyone was wonderful, helpful and very nice! :)
A little note, Williamsburg is actually in two counties, James City County and York County, therefore I have listed it under both in the index.
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Great Hopes Plantation: A Colonial Virginia Farm
Over the next several years, Colonial Williamsburg will re-create an eighteenth-century Virginia farm on this site. Carpenters will construct houses and outbuildings using eighteenth-century tools and techniques. Agricultural specialists will tend livestock and plant corn, wheat, tobacco, and gardens. Interpreters will undertake the many
tasks that went with farming and living in the country.
In Colonial days, nearly all Virginians lived on rural
farmsteads like Great Hopes. When people traveled to Williamsburg, the journey took them past many small
Those they met along the way-whites of modest means, free blacks, and slaves-were the most common inhabitants of Virginia.
We invite you to return to watch Great Hopes plantation being built. Share the daily experiences of small farmers and their rural slaves with the
site's interpreters. See how most early Virginian's lives were shaped by the land, the climate, the season, and the institution of slavery.
Site of the First Theatre
William Levingston, merchant of New Kent County, built the first theatre in English America on this site c. 1716. For three decades companies of actors entertained audiences at the "Play House" with latest successes from the London Stage. In 1745 the City of Williamsburg converted the frame structure into a municipal hall. The building was razed c. 1770 after construction of the Courthouse on Market Square.
St. George Tucker House
Originally built in 1719, facing Palace Green, this house was moved to its present locations in 1788 and subsequently enlarged by St. George Tucker, noted jurist and law professor at the College of William and Mary. Today, the house serves as a reception center for members of Colonial Williamsburg's donor societies.
An actor depicting the life of a servant in Peyton Randolph House
Peyton Randolph House
For more than fifty years this was the home of Peyton Randolph (1721-1775), who served the Colony of Virginia in many of its highest governmental offices and became the first president of the Continental Congress. His father, Sir John Randolph, the only colonial Virginian to be knighted, lived here until his death in 1737. The original house is unusual for its seven fully paneled rooms. The furnishings reflect the home of a family proninent in the social and political life of the colony
The Furniture Makers Shop
In the Settlement......
Printing Office & Post Office
Done in the best manner
The Raleigh Tavern
During Public Times Virginia leaders often met at the Raleigh, Williamsburg's most popular inn. Here in 1769 a group of burgesses adopted the proposal of George Mason for a boycott of British goods. Five years later Burgesses again met in the Apollo Room to issue the call for the first Continental Congress. This reconstructed building is appointed with English and American furnishings in accordance with inventories of early innkeepers.
Pasteur & Galt Apothecary Shop
Pasteur & Galt Apothecary Shop
William Pasteur and John Minson Galt traveled to England to study medicine before returning to Williamsburg to practice. They were partners in this apothecary shop from 1775 to 1778. In addition to dispensing drugs, they provided surgical, midwifery, and general medical services.
The Pasteur & Galt Apothecary is preserved through the generosity of Eli Lilly and Company, 1996
Mr. Charlton's Coffeehouse
For the last six years, archaeologists, architectural historians, research historians and other scholars have been investigating the site of Charlton's Coffeehouse that served Williamsburg residents and visiting Burgesses from 1755 to 1769. Unlike a tavern, a coffeehouse generally
catered only to men, served more hot beverages than alcohol, and was not required to let rooms.
Between 1996 and 1999 archaeologists unearthed a wealth of information about the original structure and about the activities that took place inside and
around Charlton's. An odd collection of watch keys, dissected human vertebrae, and bizarre home-remedy accoutrements were all part of an unfolding tapestry that provided entertainment and the setting for lectures, curiosities, and social club. Colonial Williamsburg architectural historians are currently working with the standing and archaeological features to determine how the building must have looked.
This historic site was the seat of Virginia's colonial government for 75 years. Here in May, 1765, Patrick Henry denounced the Stamp Act, and on May 15, 1776, a Virginia Convention unanimously proposed that the Continental Congress "declare the United Colonies free and independent States." On June 12, 1776, a Virginia Convention approved George Mason's Declaration of Rights and on July 29 adopted the first constitution for the new Commonwealth of Virginia.
The Public Gaol
The Secretary's Office
Officals decided to build the Secretary's Office in which to protect the public papers of the Virginia colony after a fire destroyed the first Capitol in 1747. Completed in 1748, the building was designed to be fireproof. This building also contained an office for the Secretary of the colony.
This was Virginia's chief prison which housed debtors and criminals and served as the jail for the General Court in the nearby Captiol. Here Blackbeard's pirates, captured in 1718, were confined until the day of their hanging. Leg irons, an exercise yard, food slots, and criminal cells with primitive sanitation have been restored to their early appearance.
Benjamin Powell House - Newer section
The Governor's Palace
Completed in 1722, for most of Williamsburg's colonial history, the palace was home to the Royal Governor, but beginning in 1765 a movement began in Virginia that would eventually move the palace out from under the British Crown and place it in the hands of the colonists.
Beginning in July 1776, the palace served as residence for the first two Colonial governors of Virginia, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. After Jefferson moved the capital to Richmond and Cornwallis' brief stay in Williamsburg, the palace served as a hospital. Behind the palace is a graveyard where over 150 American soliders are buried.
On December 22, 1781, fire broke out in the palace and it burned to the ground. Today's reconstruction is built on the foundations of the original.
Benjamin Powell House - Older section
The Magazine and Guardhouse
Erected in 1715, the Magazine was colonial Virginia's storehouse for guns, ammunition, and military supplies. The action of British Governor Dunmore on the night of April 20-21, 1775, in removing gunpoweder belonging to the Colony, touched off the Revolution in Virginia before news of the Battle of Lexington reached Williamsburg. The reconstructed Guardhouse was originally built during the French and Indian War. A comprehensive collection of military equipment includes antique Brown Bess muskets.
Bruton Parish Church
Sevices on Sunday & Special Days
One of the oldest Episcopal Churches
in America, this historic building
has been in service to God and Man
continuously since 1715.
Open to visitors Every Day
Bruton Parish Church
Among the parishioners attending the church were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Richard Henry Lee, George Wythe, Patrick Henry and George Mason.
During the Revolutionary War, the bell was used as the town's liberty bell.
Benjamin Powell was a carpenter who became a contractor and built a couple of Williamsburg landmarks.
He acquired his property at the east end of the city in 1763, and for nearly 20 years pursued from there the career of an "undertaker", this is what contractors were called in colonial days.
He "undertook" the repairs
of the Public Gaol in 1764, construction of the steeple tower at Bruton Parish Church in 1769, and the erection of the Public Hospital in 1771.
In 1774, as the Revolution approached, Powell served with Peyton Randolph, George Wythe, on a committee that enforced an embargo on selected British goods.
Powell sold the property in 1782. About 1814 a small office was built next door for Dr. Robert Waller.
Dating from 1715, the present structure is the third building since 1660. Formed from Middletown and Marston Parishes in 1674, Burton Parish was 10 miles square.
It was named for for Burton, Somersetshire, in England, the home of then Governor, William Berkeley and VA Secretary, Thomas Ludwell.
The now-unknown architect had designed the building on a geometrical scheme. Atop the octagonal wooden cupola, the weather vane's height from the ground equaled the building's length. The steps arrived from a London merchant in 1722, but there were no columns - possibly none had ever been intended.
The wide double doors open directly ion the courtroom where the James City County Court and the Williamsburg Hustings Court. General Court met each April and October in the Capitol. Punishment was quick, the whipping post and the public stocks stood just outside, a few steps from the prisoners dock. The Courthouse served Williamsburg for more than 160 years.
William Robertson was appointed clerk of the colony's Council in 1698, a director of the fledgling capital in 1705, and a city alderman in 1722, he also operated a most serviceable windmill.
Reconstructed on its original site, the windmill was the domain of the miller and his assistant. Robertson's was a post mill, a design that appeared in Europe in the Middle Ages.
It's superstructure balanced on a huge, single timber - or post - to be turned into the wind by a man at the tailpole.
When the breeze spun the windmill's blades, a shaft and gear arrangement turned the millstone to grind corn into meal or wheat into flour.
In colonial Virginia the real money was in tobacco. Grown, cut and dried it was pried or "prized" a thousand pounds at a time into hogsheads 48 inches high and 30 inches in diameter.
In Colonial Virginia, the custom was to bury family members at home. Despite the customs of the era, there are 17th century graves in the parcel of land John Page donated for the second Bruton Parish Church on November 14, 1678. Page's gift included the land 60 feet in all directions from the building. No one knows how many graves it contains, or the age of the oldest. Many of the early burials are not marked. In some instances, the lack of grave markers led to people being buried on top of one another.
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