Colonial Williamsburg is a jewel in the crown of our American history. The idea began with Reverend Doctor William Goodwin, rector of Bruton Parish in Williamsburg, and the monies of John D. Rockefeller. During the Rockefeller’s family visit to Hampton University Goodwin broached the idea with the millionaire and received 5 million dollars, which increased to 68 in the course of renovation translating to 3 billion in today’s standards.
That said, let’s talk tour and how to get the most of your visit. Take a look on line, http://www.colonialwilliamsburg.org, to see what buildings have guided tours and arrive at opening, hours are 8:45-5:00pm. Since there is much to see it is difficult to visit in one day, but not impossible. Select priorities, map out the trip and download their Ap for additional information. Save the museum visit to end of day and check hours as some days the museum is open till 7. The museum is newly renovated and yes, is another must see. There is a free bus shuttling visitors from the Visitor Center to various sites in the restoration. Take advantage of it.
There also are special talks throughout the restoration and at the museum. These are listed on the This Week At A Glance available on the Colonial Williamsburg web site. Price for tour is $44.99 adult, $24.99 6-12, pricey so make the most of your time as there is much to see and learn.
Restaurants are in the historic homes as taverns, but don’t waste valuable time at a long lunch unless you have multiple days. Eat a big breakfast before arrival, bring granola bars and fruit for lunch, or stop at the bakery behind the Raleigh Tavern on Duke of Gloucester Street. Their wraps are delicious and reasonable at $6.95 with tasty cookies and cakes, my favorite being the Queen’s Cake.
First stop, The Capitol. Here they have guided tours every 20 minutes. Arriving as one just left I scouted out the nearby jail and another historic house nearby.
The meeting house and Public Gaol (see jail cell pic) are adjacent to the Capitol, so if you have wait time visit these sites.
Williamsburg was the capitol of Virginia in colonial days. The restoration is 1 mile long and a half mile wide with some private residences. Small signs appear on the outside of these homes so as not to enter in error.
The Capitol held the court room for the colony. Courts met quarterly and those to be tried waited in the Gaol until hearing. These quarterly sessions lasted 6 weeks with 75 cases heard during this time frame.
Once a court decision was made the paperwork was scuttled across the pond to the King of England for final decision.
This took 6 weeks. The King gave his final decision then paperwork was returned to the colonies taking another 8 weeks. What a process as in the meantime the prisoner remained in the Gaol.
Next head down Duke of Gloucester Street with the coffee house, apothecary, bakery, Raleigh Tavern, and silversmith. This street bustles in activity and has much to see.
An interesting historic house stop is the Thomas Everard House on the Palace Green across the street from the Governor’s Palace. Thomas was Mayor of Williamsburg and held several governmental positions.
He shared his home with his wife and daughters. In the upstairs bedroom his daughter’s wedding gown was displayed. Wedding gowns were multi-purpose and depending on the circumstance either a current piece of clothing or a new dress was worn. The gown then became part of the women’s regular clothing post wedding. White wedding gowns are a 20th century creation. A colonial wedding cake was one layer cake with meringue frosting.
The final stop was the Governor’s Palace. This is a re-creation based on Thomas Jefferson’s etchings. He was the last Governor to reside here.
What an interesting place of history. Built in 1722, becoming a hospital in 1787, then burning to the ground shortly thereafter. It was the third building Rockefeller recreated on the property and recreate he did. All contents and building materials are historically correct. Lord Dunmore, the last Brit to occupy the Palace in 1775 would probably think he was at home.
Surrounding the Palace are gardens as there are throughout the restoration behind the colonial homes. These small spots of color are a lovely find. Take a moment to enjoy.
But, don’t forget the museum…
The new exhibit is Upholstery CSI: Reading the Evidence. It shows how furniture of different eras was created. Much fun and a must see.
Three chairs from different places in the world..
Enjoy your Williamsburg visit and rekindle your love of our home, America.