Last week in my post Virginia – Week 1, I promised you a historygasm! Well here it is…
Dave’s big boss man was kind enough to take us on a day trip to Williamsburg, Virginia about a month ago. Williamsburg is a city and I can’t really tell you much more than that, because we didn’t really visit the central part of the city. We visited a specific, smaller part of it… one that is an entire area of living-history museum. NO KIDDING. So it’s a WHOLE district of history. LIVING history.
The Historic Area of Colonial Williamsburg stretches over 301 acres, and includes 88 original 18th-century structures. Hundreds of houses, shops and public outbuildings are reconstructed on their original foundations. Some buildings are open to the public, while others are private residences and administrative offices (The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation).
Colonial Williamsburg is part restoration and re-creation; some of the buildings date back to anywhere between 1699 and 1780, so parts of them have had to be restored. Others were built as part of the Colonial revival ( late 1800s to early 1900s) and others were more recent. The idea was to recreate the atmosphere of this part of American History, so that “The future may learn from the past”.
My every fantasy of living some time in the past just came true. Seriously – people do live there… like uni students.. and when you’re walking down the main street people in neon coloured joggers and short shorts run past you. It’s totally spacey. Especially since most people who work there are wearing what folks would have worn in the 1600-1700s.
Anyway, for those who don’t know, there is a difference between the American Civil War and the American Revolutionary War. One was fought Between the States (that was the Civil War) and one was a military rebellion against Great Britain (the Revolutionary War). Colonial Williamsburg is an important site of the American Revolutionary War.
One of the most interesting sites we visited at Colonial Williamsburg was The Governor’s Palace. The palace was completed in 1722 and was (at the time) one of the finest structures in America.
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. By April of 1775, the Royal Governor at that time, Lord Dunmore, clearly feared for his and his family’s safety. Despite efforts by Virginia’s moderate leaders to keep the governor in his palace, Dunmore and his family fled Williamsburg by sea on June 8, 1775. He later retaliated by ordering the shelling of Norfolk on January 1, 1776, burning the town in a great fire (Colonial Williamsburg).
We also visited some of the historic trade sections.
Look at this map below (click on it!). It’s an interactive google map of the village and shows you the scale of the place – definitely too much to take in with only one day there.