Colonial Williamsburg (CW) is a collection of approximately 40 original, restored and/or reconstructed buildings located in Williamsburg, Virginia. The 300+ acre area has been beautifully restored to allow visitors to experience what life was like in the 17th and 18th centuries. As the largest British colony from 1699 until 1780, Williamsburg was the political and social hub of Virginia. Many famous Americans graced the streets and taverns of the city, including George Washington, Patrick Henry, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.
Much of this area fell into terrible disrepair, especially after the state capitol was moved to Richmond by Thomas Jefferson in 1780. Even the exquisite Governor's Palace was in ruin by 1900, destroyed by fire during the Civil War. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation was created to raise funds to restore and preserve the sleepy town to the defining period in American history. Thanks to the interest and financial commitment received from John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in 1926, Colonial Williamsburg invites visitors to learn and experience history through first hand interaction with interpretive actors and artisans continuing the skilled trades of an era gone by. His commitment was to assure that “the future may learn from the past.”
The restored area of CW includes homes, gardens, taverns, shops and workshops that represent how the citizens went about their day to day lives in colonial times. Take time to interact and experience colonial living first hand in Williamsburg . . . spend a day or spend a week here . . . you will surely learn through the educational programming that has been carefully created based on historical journals, newspapers and personal letters from residents and visitors during this defining time in American history.
There are also a number of museums that help to tell the story of Colonial Virginia and Williamsburg role in the formation of a nation. The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, Bassett Hall (the former residence of Mr. & Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr.) and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum are all part of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s collection and included in most CW admission packages.
All of the restored areas of Colonial Williamsburg require the purchase of an admission ticket. There are several different options available from a single day to annual pass, and discounts for children. Check out their website (www.history.org) for details including internet specials offering 10% discounts. In addition to admission to the historic area, your ticket will afford you free parking at the visitors’ center and shuttle service from the center to and throughout the historic area.
There are also two outstanding videos (each approximately 30 minutes in length) that are included in your admission ticket purchase. The first tells the story of John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s involvement in the restoration process, including vintage film and photos dating back to the early 21st century. Interviews with Rockefeller’s children share the passion for Williamsburg that both John and Abby had for the preservation of our American heritage and the role Williamsburg played in our history.
The other, “Williamsburg – The Story of a Patriot” shares what it was like to be a Virginian representative to the House of Burgess during the turmoil of British rule leading up to the dissolution of the representative body. Virginians were torn between loyalties to Britain and the desire to have fair representation in the governance and other matters of the colonies. Filmed in 1957, enjoy a very young Jack Lord in the staring role.
When you arrive in Williamsburg, you will want to pick up a “Colonial Williamsburg This Week” brochure at the visitors’ center or any CW ticket center. This will be your planning guide that will be invaluable as you plan your visit and activities throughout CW’s many exhibits, programs and activities.