George Wythe House, Williamsburg
George Wythe (rhymes with Smith) was a very important person in Colonial Williamsburg. He represented Williamsburg in the House of Burgesses, was the colony's attorney general, counseled Virginia to establish a regular army instead of a militia, was speaker of the House of Delegates, and was a judge of Virginia's High Court of Chancery!
He also was appointed to the chair of law at the College of William and Mary. Sadly, he was poisoned by George Wythe Sweeney, a grandnephew who wanted to inherit his money. Wythe lived in agony for 2 weeks and changed his will so the nephew received nothing.
Even though George Wythe was a very important man, his spacious house is quite simple in plan. It has two rooms on each side of the central hall on both floors. Fireplaces are in all eight rooms. Behind his home is a symmetrical garden that divides the property into distinct areas. There's a smokehouse, kitchen, laundry, lumber house, poultry house, well, and stable.
There is a wonderful "pleasure garden" that is lined with tree box topiary and has a lovely arbor. There's also two "Neccessary houses" (outhouses) nearby. On the south side is an orchard and the "kitchen garden".
We saw a demonstration in the kitchen and loved it. But, what we loved was a special night play by torch/candle light about slavery and master/slave relationships. We were in a group of six, and there were 4 groups. The groups moved from rooms and outside the house as the play progressed. It was absolutely fantastic.
One of the colonial houses we most enjoyed visiting was the George Wythe House. Here you can visit not only the rooms where the family would have lived but also those “below stairs” such as the kitchen and servants’ quarters. Outside you can explore the lovely garden and various outbuildings including the smokehouse, laundry, poultry house, lumber house, dovecote, and stable.
The house is considered one of the finest in the historic area and dates back to the 1750s. As well as serving as a home to the Wythe family it was also used as General George Washington's headquarters just before the British siege of Yorktown.
George Wythe was a lawyer who taught Thomas Jefferson, among others. His signature is first among the Virginia signatures on the Declaration of Independence. He was absent from the meeting the day they signed the document but was so highly respected by his fellow Virginians that the other delegates left a space for so that his signature would appear first.
One of the most influential men of the Revolutionary era, George Wythe ranks among colonial America's finest lawyers, legal scholars, and teachers. Among the young men Wythe trained in the law were Thomas Jefferson, St. George Tucker, and John Marshall. He probably did more to shape Thomas Jefferson's ideas than any other man. Jefferson referred to Wythe as "my faithful and beloved Mentor in youth, and my most affectionate friend through life." In 1779, Wythe joined the College of William & Mary faculty to become the first law professor in the United States. George Wythe opposed slavery in principle and freed some of his slaves during his lifetime. He taught at least two of his slaves to read. Today, the home has been furnished to look as it might have when George and Elizabeth Wythe resided in it.
A ticket is required to tour the George Wythe House and grounds.
On the west side of the Palace Green is the elegant restored brick home of George Wythe (pronounced "with") classics scholar, noted lawyer and teacher (Thomas Jefferson, Henry Clay, and John Marshall were his students), and member of the House of Burgesses. A close friend of Royal Governors Fauquier and Botetourt, Wythe nevertheless was the first Virginia signer of the Declaration of Independence. Wythe did not sign the Constitution, however, because it did not contain a Bill of Rights or antislavery provisions. The house, in which he lived with his second wife, Elizabeth Taliaferro (pronounced "Tolliver"), was Washington's headquarters prior to the siege of Yorktown and Rochambeau's after the surrender of Cornwallis. Open-hearth cooking is demonstrated in the outbuilding.
this beautiful colonial home is one of the oldest existant houses in williamsburg. george wythe was a delegate to the continental congress and virginia's first signer of the declaration of independence. the george wythe house served as general george washington's headquarters just before the battle of yorktown. the george wythe house is listed on the national register of historic places.