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Colonial Williamsburg

Williamsburg, Virginia

Phone: 804 220 7662 -- 800 246 2099

Statement of Purpose:

From 1699 to 1780, Williamsburg was the political, social and cultural capital of Britain's largest North American colony.

Educational tours and programs re-create daily life during the 1770s when colonists were taking their first steps toward becoming a new nation.

Historical re-enactments throughout the year portray the political events that helped galvanize the colonists' opinions and ultimately led them down the path toward revolution.

Trade demonstrations, social events, tours and presentations illustrate the daily activities of the men, women and children of 18th-century Williamsburg.

Colonial Williamsburg is the nation's largest and oldest outdoor living history museum. The Historic Area comprises 173 acres with 88 original 18th-century buildings and hundreds of structures that have been reconstructed on their original foundations.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt educational enterprise that is independent of any government body. It is governed by a board of trustees. Income is provided through ticket sales, four hotels, nine restaurants, sales of 18th-century reproductions and products and gifts and grants. All profits from Colonial Williamsburg's business operations are used to support educational programs and to maintain and preserve its collection.

Highlights & Collections:


Outside the Historic Area, Colonial Williamsburg operates four museums:

The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center

is the oldest institution in the country devoted exclusively to collecting, exhibiting and researching American folk art. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is on South England Street across from the Williamsburg Lodge. Admission is by Colonial Williamsburg Patriot's Pass, Basic Plus or Museums Ticket. Call (804) 220-7698 for program information.


Entered through the Public Hospital exhibition building at the corner of Francis and South Henry Streets, the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Gallery displays objects from Colonial Williamsburg's collections. The gallery is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is by Colonial Williamsburg Patriot's Pass, Basic Plus or Museums Ticket. For program information, call (804) 220-7724.


Eight miles east of Williamsburg on Route 60, Carter's Grove spans four centuries of Virginia history. Carter's Grove exhibition sites include: Carter's Grove is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is by Colonial Williamsburg Patriot's Pass, Basic Plus ticket or $15 single admission ticket for adults, $9 for children ages 6-12. Call (804) 229-1000, ext. 2973, for information.


Bassett Hall, the Williamsburg home of Mr. and Mrs John D. Rockefeller Jr., is a two-story, 18th-century frame house on 585 acres near the Capitol. Bequeathed to Colonial Williamsburg in 1979, its interior decor is much the same as it was when the Rockefellers lived there during the mid-1930s. Audiotape-guided tours are offered by appointment from 9 a.m. to 4.45 p.m. daily except Wednesdays. Admission is by Colonial Williamsburg Patriot's Pass or Museums Ticket. Reservations can be made at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center, Greenhow Lumber House or Merchants Square ticket office.

Exhibits & Special Events:


Revolution was not a foregone conclusion for Virginians in the 1770s. Rather, it was the result of choices made by individuals who risked their families, their friends and their futures. Rich, poor and middle class; black, white and native American; man, woman and child; free and enslaved, their choices created a society that valued both liberty and equality. Their decisions were part of a story we call "Becoming Americans" -- a story that continues to this day.

This year Colonial Williamsburg tells how Virginians chose revolution, through tours and re-enactments of the major political events and daily activities of this community. Among the highlights:

Choosing Revolution Tours at the Capitol: During this participatory tour, visitors learn about the issues and events that led Virginians to declare their independence from England May 15, 1776, and to lead the call in Philadelphia for American independence. At the end of the tour, visitors will assume the role of delegates to the Fifth Virginia Convention, introduce a resolution and vote on whether to remain loyal to Great Britain or declare their independence.

Through Botetourt's Eyes at the Governor's Palace: The royal governor--the ultimate loyalist in Virginia--truly was a man in the middle, caught between his duties to Parliament and his relations with the colonists. This Governor's Palace tour explores revolutionary choice through the eyes of the colony's most popular royal governor, Norborne Berkeley, Baron de Botetourt.

The Printer -- Printers who were the reporters of the 18th century weren't protected by the same rights and privileges reporters enjoy today. Visitors will learn about the events that led to the Revolution, from the perspectives of three printers who were here.

Military programs: Between 1774 and 1776 Virginia raised an army to protect the rights and liberties threatened by Parliament. Independent companies gave way to a standing army. During the summer, visitors will be irecruitedf into the Virginia army, established by the Third Virginia Convention in July 1775. The enlistees will learn military drills and other aspects of army life at the military encampment and will be invited to participate in large, public drills on Market Square at the end of each day.

Raleigh Tavern: During the 1770s Virginians protested the actions of Parliament, which increasingly exerted its control over the colony. Legislation like the Townshend Duties and the Stamp Act imposed taxes on Virginians. The Raleigh Tavern was the site of extra-legal meetings in which disaffected Virginians planned economic protest and agitated for repeal of the laws.

Peyton Randolph House: Born into one of Virginia's foremost families, Peyton Randolph was among the most powerful and prominent political figures of his time. Programs at the Peyton Randolph House will explore how individuals within the family -parents, children and slaves -- made their own choices, fulfilled their roles during difficult times and faced the results of their choices -- choices which, in the case of the Randolphs, split the family apart.

In addition to programs at these sites, a range of daily programs will re-create activities that influenced Virginians' choices concerning loyalty or patriotism:


During the 18th century, half of Williamsburg's population was black. The lives of the slaves and free persons in this Virginia capital and at nearby Carter's Grove are presented in reenactments and programs by Colonial Williamsburg's Department of African-American Interpretation and Presentations, founded in 1988. The struggles, joys and pains of African-American field hands, maids, cooks, drivers and footmen as well as skilled carpenters, spinners, blacksmiths, coopers and wheelwrights are recalled through tours, special programs, character interpretations and nationwide outreach programs.


Families do more than watch history at Colonial Williamsburg; they live it. During the summer and on holiday weekends throughout the year, parents can watch or join their children in educational activities that also happen to be fun. Families can learn about 18th-century family life by helping with household chores, become Virginia delegates and vote for -- or against -independence and try a turn at the latest 18th-century dance steps. These are but a-few of the ways in whi-ch families can step into the past together.


Colonial Williamsburg and Pleasant Company have joined together to provide a unique vacation package designed to bring colonial history to life for young girls and their families. During outdoor guided walking tours and special teas, girls will explore life in 18th-century Williamsburg as seen through the eyes of Felicity Merrimans, a fictional character from the American Girls Collections of books, dolls and related products created by Pleasant Company.

The "Felicity in Williamsburg" package is designed for two adults and two children. It includes two nights' accommodations, two breakfasts for four, a dinner for four in a Colonial Williamsburg tavern, meal gratuities, two tickets for the Felicity tour and tea, and four hotel guest admission tickets to the Historic Area. Packages are available daily June 22 - Sept. 5, and on weekends thereafter. Rates range from $470-$648 depending on the season and choice of accommodations. For information and reservations, call toll-free (800) 501-0057.


Admission & Directions:

Basic Plus Ticket -

This ticket, good for two consecutive days, includes an orientation walk and provides admission to all Historic Area exhibition buildings, trade shops and homes, and to the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center, DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Gallery and Carter's Grove. It does not-include Bassett Hall or special-interest tours. Adults, $29; Children ages 6-12, $17.

Basic Admission Ticket -

This one-day ticket provides admission to exhibition buildings and trade shops in the Historic Area and a 30-minute introductory tour. Adults, $25; Children ages 6-12, $15.

For reservations in an official Colonial Williamsburg hotel, call toll-free (800) HISTORY. For program information or advance ticket sales, call toll free (800) 246-2099.

Midway between Richmond and Norfolk, Va., Colonial Williamsburg is served by international airports at Newport News, Norfolk and Richmond. Amtrak provides daily rail service to Williamsburg, and the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center is easily accessible by car via Interstate 64, exit 238. Ample free parking is available.



Key Personnel:

James Ebert, Supervisor
Susan M. Stuntz, Director of Public Relations.

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