Monday, October 29, 2007

Colonial Williamsburg, VA

On our third and final day in Williamsburg, VA, we toured the re-created village of Colonial Williamsburg. John D. Rockefeller funded the restoration of the historic town. Today, it is a living history museum where actors in period costumes bring the events of the Revolutionary War time period to life.

Prior to beginning our tour, we watched a 38 min. film at the Visitor Center called "The Story of a Patriot". Jack Lord (who played McGarrett on Hawaii Five-O), portrays John Frye, a young Virginia assemblyman, who watches the events unfold that lead up to the colonies declaring independence from Britain. The film puts the historical time frame in perspective and shapes the political as the personal. We see how Frye wrestles with the decision because of the impact it will have on his family.

From the Visitor Center, we took a tram over to the entrance to the village green and the Governor's Palace.

The streets are paved (a concession to modern times) but there are no cars allowed, just horses and carriages. Watch where you walk!

The village is lined with homes and shops, many of which are open to the public. The shop keepers are in character and dress for the time period. Visitors can watch them at work and ask about silver-smithing, barrel-making, etc.

Some kids tried out the stocks, for fun.

For the last six years, scholars have been investigating the site of Charlton's Coffee House that served Williamsburg residents from 1755-1759. An odd collection of watch keys, dissected human vertebra, and bizarre home-remedy accoutrements have been unearthed. Architectural historians are working to determine how the building actually looked.

At the opposite end of town from the Governor's Palace lies the Capitol building. Notice the flag, the familiar red and white stripes but with a small Union Jack instead of the blue field of stars. You'll have to click on the photo to enlarge it in order to see this.

As we watched, the Governor arrived to issue a proclamation. He announced that in order to quell talk of independence, he was dissolving the House of Burgesses and sending the elected officials home. But they continued to secretly meet in taverns and homes.

His wife and daughter, dressed in Colonial finery, stood with the crowd as he spoke.

Patrick Henry, famous for the speech "...give me liberty or give me death...", addressed the crowd after the proclamation.

The Fife & Drum Corps led us to Raleigh's Tavern, where the staged drama continued.

In the evenings, Colonial Williamsburg hosts events such as "Cry Witch", a reenactment of the 1706 witch trial of Grace Sherwood. Ed & I attended it last time we were here and would highly recommend it.

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