Historic Triangle: Williamsburg,
Jamestown & Yorktown
From 1699 to 1780,
Williamsburg thrived as the capital of colonial Virginia - England's oldest, largest and most influential American colony. The city was built from scratch to a bold plan fashioned by Governor Francis Nicholson and named after King William. For nearly a century,
Williamsburg was at the center of important cultural, political and military events. People like the
Washington's rubbed shoulders with Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry, developing the
fundamental concepts of the American republic. Virginia voted for Independence on 15 May 1776. Fearing British attack, the capital was later moved to Richmond, a safer and more centrally located city, and Williamsburg became a simple and quiet college town - home to the
College of William and Mary.
Fortunately for historians of the future, this quiet town had little income to replace its
historic buildings with newer ones. Most were still standing in 1926 when the Reverend Dr. Goodwin convinced philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to fund Williamsburg's restoration and create a colonial city the public could experience. They refurbished 88 original buildings and built careful copies
of other buildings that had burned down. All were furnished
according to period inventories. As a result, visitors today can
experience much of what it must have been like to walk the
streets of Williamsburg 250 years ago.
The beauty and history of
Colonial Williamsburg can be experienced on many levels:
Visit Colonial Williamsburg on your next vacation! Since the historical area is quite large, it takes a good three days to see. Therefore, it is best to buy the one-year pass and plan to visit for more than one day. Many visitors
return several times a year.
Architecture: Most of the historic buildings are open to the public
including the Governor's Palace, the Capitol, and the Powder Magazine.
- Decorative Arts: All the buildings are beautifully furnished and
surplus items currently not in use within the historic area can be seen in the
DeWitt Wallace Gallery.
- The Craft Shops: Colonial-era crafts and trades have been revived. Throughout Williamsburg you can watch, among others, a printer, wigmaker, cooper (barrel
harness maker, furniture-maker, and a blacksmith create goods just as they would in the 1700s.
- Gardens: With the help of archaeologists, the gardens have
been carefully restored and planted with period flowers,
vegetables and fruits.
- Culture: Music, dance, and theater
were an important part of 18th-century life. You can experience a Fife & Drum Corps as well as strolling
musicians at dinner in the historic taverns.
- Living History: Well-trained actors play the parts of the famous and the not so
famous in an effort to bring the city to life.
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Jamestown, Virginia -
Just a short distance from
Williamsburg is Historic Jamestown Colony, the site of the first
permanent English settlement in North America. Extensive
improvements are currently underway as this historic spot prepares
for its 400th anniversary in 2007, an event certain to receive
national and worldwide attention. Adjacent to
lies Jamestown Settlement, containing museum exhibits and
reconstructions of an Indian village, the James Fort, and the
three ships that brought the first settlers to the New World.
Jamestown is accessible from Williamsburg by way of the scenic
Colonial Parkway, a charming and rustic road exploiting views of
the James River, College Creek, and other waterways as well as
the woods and other scenic views.
a full day of sightseeing that encompasses both a historical
site and a recreated settlement designed to bring you back in
time to 1607 Virginia. To fully understand the importance of
this historical site, we offer the following
history of the
Jamestown settlement, as well as a brief overview of
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Yorktown, Virginia -
At the other end of the
Colonial Parkway, following its path through a
tunnel under the Historic Area of Williamsburg and paralleling
the York River, is the little village of Yorktown. This was the scene of Lord Cornwallis' surrender to General George Washington,
ending the American Revolution on October 19, 1781.
Yorktown's extensive battlefields extend over 5000 acres, and are
overseen by the National Park Service whose visitor center has
information services, displays, movies, and
other exhibits including the recently-restored tent used by
Washington in 1781. Not far from the
center of town is the Yorktown Victory Center, another fine museum. The Center helps the visitor put together the complex story of
American and British life leading up to the conflict we now call
the Revolution. Fascinating exhibits, first-person
interpretation, and many special events make the Victory Center
an important part of a visit to Yorktown.
Other Yorktown treasures to note are:
Watermen's Museum, a local history museum about working the
waters of the Chesapeake Bay; Grace Church, a 17th-century marl
church; and other historic buildings join the growing number of
shops and stores that provide visitors to Yorktown with pleasurable days full of history,
Read the full history of Yorktown.
- The Nelson House (about 1730) - open to the public through the
National Park Service
- Powhatan's Chimney - cross the toll-bridge over the
York River from Yorktown to see the remains of a fine house built by the English in 1609 for
Indian Chief Powhatan. This is the oldest English-built structure existing
outside the British Isles
- Mann Page's Rosewell Plantation (1730s) - Further from the toll-bridge are these
impressive plantation ruins and
a seasonal museum
- Abingdon Church (1960s) - On the main road on the right is
Abingdon Church (1960s).
- Christ Church (1730s) - Across the Rappahannock River and a little more than a one-hour drive is Virginia's most beautiful church, Christ
Church, in Lancaster County.
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