Fun things to do in Williamsburg

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    josiah chownings travern
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    governor's palace
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Williamsburg

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    Wren Building~Oldest academic structure in USA

    by Yaqui Updated Jul 26, 2012

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    The Wren Building bears the name of the distinguished English architect, Sir Christopher Wren, who may possibly have influenced its original design. Construction began in 1695. The building sustained serious damage in fires in 1705, 1859, and 1862, but the massive exterior walls of the Wren Building are largely original. The Wren Building now has the outward appearance that it showed from early in the 18th century. It is located on the College of William and Mary campus.

    The College of William and Mary’s Christopher Wren Building is the oldest academic structure still in use in America. Construction on the building began August 8, 1695, two years after the school was chartered; it is the signature building of the second oldest college in the nation (next to Harvard). Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, John Tyler, and John Marshall studied in its rooms. George Washington was once chancellor of the college, which is now a distinguished university.

    In early 1729, contractor Henry Cary Jr. laid the foundations for a chapel at the south end of the west wall, turning the building’s shape into a U. The first services were conducted on June 28, 1732. Thereafter services were held in the chapel daily. A crypt below became the final resting place of Governor Botetourt, Sir John Randolph, Peyton Randolph, and other Virginia notables.

    In addition to the grammar school, by 1729 the Wren Building housed classes in natural and moral philosophy and divinity. Total enrollment averaged less than 100. When fire destroyed the Capitol in 1747, the legislature moved back to the Wren Building until the reconstruction of its hall was completed in 1754.

    In 1772, Governor Dunmore asked Thomas Jefferson, an amateur architect, to draft plans to close the quadrangle, and advertised for bids on September 3. The contract was awarded to John Saunders, and foundation work began in 1774. Jefferson’s design would have made a rectangle of the building, but the work ended with the approach of the Revolution. The foundations remain in the ground today.

    Three times destroyed by fire, the appearance of the brick-walled Wren Building has often changed, but it stands today much as it appeared by 1732. It was the first major building restored by John D. Rockefeller Jr., after he began Williamsburg’s restoration in the late 1920s.

    They have a student that gives a wonderful tour of the building. It is well worth the time to learn more about this wonderful historic buidling.

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    Williamsburg Vistor Center

    by Yaqui Updated Jul 25, 2012

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    Start your visit here by getting your tickets, making reservations for walking tours, carriage rides, lodging, dining, and evening programs. Rent a folding wheelchair at the Visitor Center. A limited number are available, rented on a first-come first-served basis. Browse the Williamsburg Booksellers for your favorite books and grab quick refreshments at Commonwealth Coffee and Tea. Purchase souvenirs and other Colonial Williamsburg products at Williamsburg Revolutions. Costume rentals for boys and girls are also available here. Enjoy the convenience of public restrooms located in the Visitor Center. See the newly restored film "Williamsburg: The Story of a Patriot." Since 1957, "The Patriot" has introduced guests to Williamsburg and America on the eve of the Revolution. Catch a free shuttle bus to the Historic Area (free for ticketed guests). When you're ready to begin your experience, the 500-foot pedestrian bridge connects Colonial Williamsburg's Visitor Center with a path that takes you to the Historic Area.

    Wheelchairs are available here too, but limited. A bookstore, a tea & coffee refreshment store, custome rentals available for children, souvenirs store and a wonderful movie presentation. Restrooms are here too and this is where free shuttles buses that take you to the park and drop and pick up at various areas of the town.

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    The Weaver

    by Yaqui Updated Jul 25, 2012

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    Coachmaker Charles Taliaferro purchased this property in the early 1770s and practiced his trade there. In the early 1880s, Jesse Cole acquired the shop and used it as a post office and general store. Today, Colonial Williamsburg's weavers practice their art in the Taliaferro-Cole Shop using 18th-century recipes for dyes.

    Although the weaving trade has been interpreted in Colonial Williamsburg's Historic Area since the 1930s, evidence suggests that there were actually no weavers in business in the city of Williamsburg in the 18th century. Contrary to popular belief, the colonists were not isolated from the world, forced to produce everything they needed for everyday life. Indeed, most cloth was imported from England, China, and India, and it could even be said that colonial dependency on imported textiles began the day the English set foot on the new continent.

    There was a weaver in nearby York County in the 18th century, and many plantations had their own weavers. The related trade of dyeing and coloring textiles did exist in Williamsburg, and it required a seven-year apprenticeship of its own. A gentleman could have the color of a suit changed, or a lady might need a ball gown cleaned or fancy pressing done on delicate items.&b

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    Abby Aldrich Rockerfeller Folk Art Museum

    by Yaqui Updated Jul 25, 2012

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    This museum has been moved to the Public Hospital Museum and DeWitt Wallace Museum.

    The first museum in the United States devoted to American Folk Art . Has so many wonderful exhibits of whimsical paintings, sculpture, furniture, weather vanes and some pretty neat hands on toys to enjoy for all. I really enjoyed this exhibit for sure. There are two floors of exhibits, and wonderful covered walk way entrance to the back main door. A beautiful fountain in front and a wonderful garden in back.

    What is folk art? It is described as "primative, country, naive, provincial, non-academic, and amateur." What a hoot huh? Well any-hoo, I love folk art. I think it represents much of Americana as well as Murals do.

    Someone very important in our history said, " To me art is one of the great resources of my life. I feel that it enriches the spiritual life and makes one more sane and sympathetic, more observant and understanding, as well as being good for one's nerves." ~ Abby Aldrich Rockerfeller, January 7, 1928 ~

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    town pillory

    by doug48 Updated Dec 20, 2011

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    the pillory was one form of punishment for law breakers in colonial williamsburg. also with the pillory was the ducking chair, the whipping post, and the gallows that were forms of punishment depending on the severity of the crime. in colonial america some common crimes were not attending church, wife beating, drunkeness, gossiping, and petty theft. serious crimes were murder and deviant sexual behavior. a criminal sentenced to the pillory commonly had their ears nailed to the wooden frame. on lookers would throw garbage and feces on the accused for entertainment.

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    shield's tavern

    by doug48 Updated Jul 8, 2011

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    shield's tavern was established by john shields in the 1740's and is the oldest surviving tavern in colonial williamsburg. today shield's tavern is a restaurant that serves lunch and dinner in a colonial setting. for reservations see the phone number below.

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    st. george tucker house

    by doug48 Updated May 5, 2011

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    this beautiful colonial home was originally built in 1716. judge st. george tucker moved the house to it's present location on nicholson street in 1788. the house was expanded several times to accommodate tucker's nine children and five step children. judge st. george tucker is best known for editing blackstone's "commentaries on the laws of england" in 1808. the tucker house is not open to the public.

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    josiah chownings tavern

    by doug48 Updated May 5, 2011

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    josiah chownings tavern was established in 1766. this tavern catered to a working class cleintelle. today josiah chowings tavern is a restaurant that serves lunch and dinner in a colonial setting. for reservations see the phone number below.

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    king's arms tavern

    by doug48 Updated May 5, 2011

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    the king's arms tavern was established by jane vobe in 1772. the king's arms tavern catered to a upper end cleintelle. today the king's arms tavern is a restaurant that serves lunch and dinner in a colonial setting. for reservations see the phone number below.

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    market square tavern

    by doug48 Updated May 5, 2011

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    the market square tavern was established by thomas craig in 1767. prior to 1767 the building was owned by robert lyon, a barber and wig-maker. thomas jefferson rented a room at the market square tavern when he was studying law in wiliamsburg. today the market square tavern is a bed and breakfast inn.

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    print shop

    by doug48 Written Apr 28, 2011

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    the williamsburg print shop and post office is located on duke of gloucester street. the first printing press was brought to williamsburg by william parks in 1730. parks published the virginia gazette newspaper from 1736 to 1750. today you can see books and newspapers being made on 18 th century replica printing presses.

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    thomas everard house

    by doug48 Written Apr 26, 2011

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    this interesting house was built by john brush on palace green in 1718. brush was the first keeper of williamsburg's magazine and was a gunsmith and armorer. in the mid 1750's thomas everard bought the house from brush's heirs and made a number of renovations and additions to the house. everard was the clerk of the elizabeth city county court, the york county court, and deputy clerk of the general court. everard was twice mayor of williamsburg. today the house has exhibits on gunsmithing.

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    bowden-armistead house

    by doug48 Written Apr 26, 2011

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    the bowden-armistead house was built in 1858 by judge lemuel bowden. bowden was a union supporter during the civil war which led to a considerable amount of resentment by the residents of williamsburg. after the union occupation of williamsburg bowden was appointed mayor of williamsburg. the bowden-armistead house is the only house of the duke of gloucester street that is not owned by the colonial williamsburg foundation. today the bowden-armistead house is a private residence and is not open to the public.

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    williamsburg goal

    by doug48 Updated Apr 25, 2011

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    the williamsburg goal (jail) is a recontructed building on nicholson street a block north of the house of burgesses. there are two colonial era cells in the goal but they are not open to the public. the goal was a holding place for inmates before and after a trial. it was not common practice to hold someone in a cell as a form of punishment.

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    bruton parish cemetery

    by doug48 Updated Apr 25, 2011

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    pictured is bruton parish cemetery located next to the bruton parish church. this is the final resting place of a number of prominent citizens of williamsburg. the obelisk in the center of the picture is a monument to colonel john page, one of the founders of bruton parish church.

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