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Dec 15, 2012 -

Colonial Williamsburg, Part Three: The Wythe House

After the governor’s palace, I wandered over to the first house that had a flag. There was a waiting period for the tour and the lady out front told me that I was much better off getting in line to view the Wythe house across the street as it closes at 1:00 and there were only a couple of tours left.

This is because the house is one of the few period buildings remaining and it even still has all the original 18th century woodwork, including the floors. Of greatest importance to most guests is this is the house where Thomas Jefferson studied law, so you can actually walk on the same floor and through the same doors as he did.

George Wythe was the first American law professor and a prominent opponent of slavery. The Wythe house was a wedding gift from his second wife’s father. They had no children, but they did received nieces and nephews regularly, as well as the Jeffersons.

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Dec 15, 2012 -

Colonial Williamsburg, Part Two: The Governor’s Palace and Patrick Henry

First stop in Colonial Williamsburg is the governor’s palace. A popular activity there is to listen to a speech by one of the founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson or Patrick Henry. The fellow who plays Jefferson apparently looks like him… because he is a direct descendent of him!

On the crisp morning of my visit, the talk was by Patrick Henry. Other than his “give me liberty or give me death” speech, I didn’t know much about him. With the talk being 45 minutes, I didn’t expect to stay through the whole thing. The reenactor was so good, that I hung onto every word! I really would suggest not missing this if you go to Williamsburg.

(As point of reference, by this point, it was 11:30 and I had already been in Colonial Williamsburg two and a half hours!)

All the open buildings in Colonial Williamsburg have an English flag outside the entrance. The governor’s palace did not. It was just open for private school tours. But we could wander around the grounds.

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Dec 14, 2012 -

Colonial Williamsburg, Part One: Introduction and the Hopes Plantation

It is a very weary and happy time travel who posts tonight! My day in Colonial Williamsburg was much too full to do it justice in just one post, so I will be breaking it up into several.

Williamsburg is known as the Revolutionary City. It was the first capital of Virginia and the centre of political activity that would lead to the United States declaring its independence from England.

The historical part of the city, Colonial Williamsburg, is a huge living history museum set circa 1774, just before the American Revolution and the ratification of the Declaration of Independence. I’ll get a little more into some of the history as I work my way through the exhibits.

While Colonial Williamsburg is a living history museum, it is not like so many others I have visited where the costumed interpreters play a part and pretend they are actually living in that era. While they may take on the persona of an 18th-century whatever, they are still their 21st century selves and can answer questions as such.

In order to visit all the exhibits, you must purchase a ticket, which is $39.95 for one day. I got lucky and was able to buy my ticket through Groupon for $19.95. But, spoiler, $39.95 is a bargain!

My tips for Colonial Williamsburg: wear comfortable shoes, bring your own water and a picnic, don’t think you’ll find one-of-a-kind souvenirs, and if you absolutely want to pay huge prices for dinner, reserve very early to eat at one of the taverns. Yes, much of Colonial Williamsburg is a giant tourist trap, but one that is still well worth doing!

Plan a lot of time to visit Colonial Williamsburg properly. I arrived at 9AM and by noon I hadn’t even set foot in the core of the city yet! Many visitable buildings include tours of 20 to 45 minutes in duration and you can easily spend 10 to 15 minutes in each of the other ones watching demonstrations. I decided to work my way through the city, devote myself wholly to the activity in which I was engaged, and not bemoan missing anything when the day ended.

One interpreter gave me a valuable tip. While the town buildings and tours close at 5PM, the museum closes at 7PM. A good way to organize you day is to travel clockwise around the city, finish with the museum, and then hop on the free shuttle to get back to the Visitors’ Centre.

I don’t take notes, so the following pictures provide information I remember, but in no way encompass the whole of what I learned during my visit. You’ll just have to come to Colonial Williamsburg one day!

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