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Williamsburg, VA

Colonial Williamsburg: Home of American History

Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia is one of America's finest historic areas. From 1699 to 1780, Williamsburg was the capital of the colony of Virginia and home to the nation's founding fathers. Here, Thomas Jefferson studied law, and later George Washington, Patrick Henry and other patriot leaders plotted America's freedom from Great Britain. Now a living history town with restored buildings, the town offers visitors the unique opportunity to step back in time and experience the ideas and dreams of Americans on the eve of the American Revolution. The town spans 173 acres and more than 500 restored and reconstructed buildings. Hundreds of living history re-enactors and guides dressed in Colonial garb represent actual citizens from 18th century Williamsburg.

Visitors can experience 400 years of history at Carter's Grove, home to Virginia's earliest settlers during the 1600s. This stately Georgian mansion has been called "the most beautiful house in America." Its expansive grounds also contain reconstructed 18th-century Slave Quarter, which represents life as it was lived by the vast majority of the inhabitants (both black and white) of the Chesapeake. Discover how Native Americans used the land and their reaction to the 1619 arrival of the first English settlers at the Winthrop Rockefeller Archaeology Museum, a fascinating subterranean museum revealing archaeological treasures located in Carter's Grove. Also at the Grove, explore Wolstenholme Towne, a partial reconstruction of their 17th-century settlement.

In addition to Carter's Grove, Williamsburg has many other fine old houses and historic landmarks. Marvel at Bassett Hall, the 1750s Georgian farmhouse that served as the home of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. or the grand Peyton Randolph House, one of the town's oldest and finest houses. Opened in 1773 as the first institution in America devoted solely to the treatment of the mentally ill, the Public Hospital is now a museum in its own right, featuring replicas of patient rooms and an exhibit that follows the evolution of caring for America's mentally ill during the 18th and 19th centuries.

There is plenty here for art lovers as well. The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum is the first of its kind, dedicated solely to American folk art. Since colonial times, untrained artists and craftspeople have recorded aspects of everyday life, making novel and effective use of whatever materials were available. The folk art created by these artisans feature bold colors, simplified shapes, imaginative surface patterns, and originality. The museum offers a variety of paintings, carvings, toys, needlework, and other treasures. The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum is equally acclaimed, and features renowned collections of English and American silver, ceramics, paintings, textiles, prints dating from 1600 to 1830. This museum also includes one of the largest collections of American and British furniture in the world.

Colonial Williamsburg also offers visitors special military re-enactments, holiday and seasonal programs, changing exhibits, concerts, theatrical presentations and more. The entire family can enjoy several days here, learning about America's foundations and savoring the simplicity and beauty of 18th century life. For those who want an in-depth experience at Williamsburg, the Williamsburg Institute also offers educational programs, day trips and multi-day conferences for adults. High school students can also travel back in time Summer Program in Early American History, sponsored by the National Institute of American History and Democracy, in partnership with The College of William and Mary and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.


Capitol Building

Courthouse

Peyton Randolph House

Bassett Hall