Monday, April 19, 2010

Scenes from Colonial Williamsburg

There are three things in life that are impossible to do: sneeze with your eyes open, slam a revolving door shut, and take a bad photo at Colonial Williamsburg.

Everywhere you look are lovely 18th-century vignettes of reproduction buildings, and men and women in full period regalia.

Thanks to the vision of Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin and the generosity of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., a ghost of a town with deep roots in our nation's history was brought back to life for our edification and entertainment.

Here, you can tour restored buildings that are filled with reproduction furniture and other essentials made by tradesmen who are currently working in Colonial Williamsburg, visit shops that sell the same wares, take carriage rides, eat in taverns, and learn about the people who lived in what was the capitol of Virginia 250 years ago.

During that time, white or gray hair was all the rage, and the wigmaker was cranking out animal-hair pompadours as quickly as possible.

Wigs were so highly prized, they were put into wills and passed from one generation to the next. Small wonder, since some of the best would cost you anywhere from several days' pay to a full year of your salary.

No money for a wig? No problem. Just sneak up behind some young lady with bountiful tresses, snip off a handful using whatever cutting device you have, and run away like a guy who just stole some lady's hair. It happened.

And so did a lot of other things. Like cabinetmaking, coopering, gunsmithing, silversmithing, basket making, brick making, and weaving.

The town was abundant with busy hands while laws were being made that would fashion a new nation. And the same things are being reenacted here today through employees, actors, and volunteers.

To visit Colonial Williamsburg is to step back into 1765. Except with public restrooms and indoor plumbing. Huzzah.


Ian W said...

I went to Williamsburg last fall. It was one of the best holiday weeks I have ever taken.
My wife and I spent some or all of 6 days at Williamsburg and the balance at Yorktown, and Jamestown.
I would happily go back and do all of it all again.

EMBO said...

You could also get a fabulous education, as early as 1693! Well, only if you were a dude, but still. :)

Woodbloke said...

Hi Kari - sounds like you had a grand day out.
All I would add is that you really need to visit Europe and the UK.
Where I live in Salisbury, it's full of this sort of stuff (no period costumes though)...and then of course, there's the cathedral. Unmissable - Rob

Dave G said...

Looks like you had fantastic weather for your trip!

Darnell said...

Thanks for the tour!

johnjoiner said...

Nice post, Kari.

But you left out the photos from the cabinetmaker's shop!

Kari Hultman said...

Ian, we bought year passes this time and plan to go back at Christmastime. Can't wait!

Emily, yeah, it wasn't the best time to be female. ; )

Rob, both Europe and the UK are on my must-see-before-I-die list. Can we stay with you??? haha

Dave, the weather was perfect, except for the morning that I interviewed the cooper. It rained, of course!

Darnell, there will be a few more posts on C.W. and will include photos that woodworkers will love. :o)

John, stay tuned! More posts to follow....

Woodbloke said...

Rob, both Europe and the UK are on my must-see-before-I-die list. Can we stay with you??? haha

Absolutely - Rob

Tim said...

Great pics Kari, last time we were there I saw repoduction wagon being built for the Frontier cultural museum in Staunton Va. They had to drag me away...

Dyami said...

Nice post, Kari. I can't wait to take my boys.

Kari Hultman said...

Thanks, Rob!

Tim, that is so cool. The FCM is another fabulous place to visit.

Dyami, we saw lots—LOTS—of kids there. Friday was "take a busload of students to Williamsburg" day. And they all seemed to have a great time.

Tom Dugan said...

Kari, can we expect to see you at the "Working Wood in the 18th Century" conference at CW next January? Once you attend one you'll want to keep going back! Dates next year are Jan 12-15 or 16-19.

Kari Hultman said...

Tom, a friend of mine went two years ago and loved it, but I've never been to it. The dates fall right smack in the middle of my busy season at work, and I never go anywhere until the end of March.