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May 18, 2008
From journal Colonial Williamsburg - Where History Lives!
September 28, 2006
From journal Williamsburg, VA
by Taylor Shelby
Charleston, South Carolina
June 30, 2005
The building you see today is a reproduction of the original building that was constructed in 1772 and burned in 1781. In that short timespan, it saw quite an impressive amount of history and some fabulous parties. Home to seven royal governors and two elected governors (you may have heard of them – Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson), the home stopped being used as an official residence when the Capitol was moved to Richmond in 1780. When the fire erupted, it was being used as a hospital for the wounded from the battle of Yorktown. Today, 158 men and women are buried in the gardens.
In 1930, a massive two-year archaeology project was launched on the palace. The information gathered in the dig, along with a couple of major historical lucky breaks (think very informative documents surviving) allowed enough detailed information for the entire building to be reconstructed. In 1934, the building was reopened. In 1981, Gov. Botetourt’s inventories were found, which allowed the buildings to be accurately decorated in 18th-century fashion.
I will get my one complaint out of the way at the beginning, because I want this to be positive. The tours are too big! I realize that thousands of people come through Williamsburg, and I sympathize, but 45 people on a tour is too many. Some of the rooms are taxed for space, and with so many people, I could scarcely hear our excellent tour guide. Okay, with that out of the way, this place is fantastic! The décor! The furnishings! The information! I loved it.
You get to see quite a few rooms including offices, bedchambers, dining rooms, and the ball room, among others. Probably the most impressive to me was the great hall, which is crammed floor to ceiling with weapons. The tour is worth it for that alone. There is also an impressive collection of curtained beds, two original paintings of King George III and the Queen, and incredibly beautiful hand-tooled leather wallpaper in one of the entertaining rooms. I wish I had more time because I just wanted to gaze. And Williamsburg is really good about finishing touches. It was like the residents had just walked out of the rooms.
Tours of the Palace are every 15 minutes and last about 30 to 40 minutes. There are also extensive gardens that I will address in another section. This is one of the places you can use that express pass, and I recommend it. It took me forever to get in.
From journal Occupied Colonial Williamsburg - Under the Redcoat