American History 101.2

Part 2 of “My Life Among 8th Graders.” For Part 1, click HERE.

While many of our nation’s historical locations sit amidst modern buildings, fast food restaurants and freeways, Colonial Williamsburg retains acres of buildings, grounds and — yes — even “citizens,” so visitors of all ages may experience life as it was in colonial times.

The restoration and rebuilding of Williamsburg began in the early 1920s due to the generosity of John D. Rockefeller. Several homes and buildings were purchased during this time, and restored to their colonial splendor. Today, more than 600 structures in Colonial Williamsburg are managed and maintained as part of this living history museum.

The Governor’s Palace - Detail

Detail on the gate outside the Governor’s Palace in Colonial Williamsburg

We were fortunate enough to be at Williamsburg during a re-enactment weekend, so — in addition to the usual dose of docents — we were able to enjoy period troops, encampments, bands and carriages full of nobility as we wandered through the sculpted and shaded grounds.

Among the highlights were the Governor’s Palace and gardens (complete with hedge maze), but it was an equal treat to see the militia march by on their way to the encampment, conveniently set up on the Palace Green.

Our personal tour guide was a wonderful woman who must have been in her mid-seventies, but she walked faster than my gang of guys could keep up. After the guided tour, we had time to enjoy the sights and setting at a more leisurely pace. When night fell, we kept going, taking part in a “lantern tour” of several of the shops, including a printers, a hat shop (wasn’t sure if you’d recognize the term “milliner”), and a silversmith.

The Militia in Motion

Militia on the Move

The Governor’s Palace

The Encampment on the Palace Green. The Governor’s Palace is in the background

At the end of the day, we ate dinner in the cafeteria of The College of William & Mary, the second oldest institute of higher learning in the United States (after Harvard). But the best news was that, after a full day on the East coast, we’d not lost a student.

Next: Monticello and Outer Space

For Part 2.5, Click HERE

craig hodgkins

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~ by Craig Hodgkins on October 25, 2007.

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