Colonial Williamsburg


Are you old enough (as I am) to remember when “Williamsburg colors” were dull, muted, and … well, faded, versions of blue, green, and the like?

I don’t remember how long ago it happened, but I do remember reading that many of the Colonial Williamsburg buildings, including the governor’s palace, were re-envisioned and reinterpreted once the curators realized that the faded-looking colors had, in fact, simply faded over the years.

On Sunday, before heading home from the Carriage Symposium, I was finally able to tour the palace … and all I can say is, wow, do those gorgeous colors POP …

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As promised, here are a few photos of the fife-and-drum corps, militia, and cannon demonstrations on the courthouse square, which I happened to see on Friday evening while at Colonial Williamsburg.

The man in this first photo was watching the proceedings as well, from across the street.

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I learned this morning (through the Two Nerdy History Girls blog) that Colonial Williamsburg’s blacksmith has a new apprentice.*

Coincidentally (well, not really, given its location), I had visited the blacksmith’s shop during our CAA / CWF International Carriage Symposium in January and thought this would be a good time to share a few more photos of the shop.

First, a photo of the front of the Deane Shop, home of Williamsburg’s wheelwrights, which I took on the freak-snowstorm Saturday during our 2010 CAA / CWF International Carriage Symposium. The blacksmith’s shop is in the lean-to at the left.

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Next, the back door to the blacksmith’s shop (in the white building at the left), as seen from across the wheelwrights’ yard during our visit earlier this year:

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And several shots of the interior of the blacksmith’s shop, from our late-afternoon visit in January:

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* You can see more photos of Aislinn’s new outfit on the FB page of Williamsburg’s milliners’ shop.

Are you on Facebook? If you are, you too can “like” the Colonial Williamsburg page. A status update from Colonial Williamsburg just popped onto my FB news feed, and I thought it was really rather interesting, especially since we were just there, exploring the Historica Area and meeting people.

On this website of “behind the scenes” info at Williamsburg, you can listen to or (if you lack speakers) read the transcript of two interviews with the director of their Costume Design Center. There’s a lot of other interesting information there, as well.

P.S.
If you are on Facebook and haven’t yet “liked” the Carriage Association page, you can check us out here.

For a lazy winter-time holiday, here are some scenes from Colonial Williamsburg. I took these in the late afternoon last Friday.

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On our free afternoon, several symposium attendees made their way to the wheelwrights’ shop to meet the artisans and see what they were up to.

On this day — and for quite a number of days lately — they were splitting white-oak logs for spokes. Several big trees had come down on Williamsburg-owned land during a recent hurricane, and the wheelwrights were the lucky recipients of this unexpected bounty. There are so many logs that they will apparently have enough split wood to last through several years’ worth of spokes.

They explained to us that they use white oak for spokes and ash (from the center of the logs) for hubs. Once split, each piece of wood has to dry for one year per inch of thickness, so a twelve-inch chunk of ash must dry for an astonishing twelve years before it can be made into a hub.

In the lean-to next to the wheelwrights’ workshop is the blacksmith’s shop, and we were able to peek in there as well.

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Yesterday morning featured several fascinating lectures, which I’ve summarized on Twitter (here).

During the morning’s breaks, everyone gathered for snacks and drinks and another stroll through the trade fair.

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Bowman Leather (Dan and his son Jacob) have a display of their lovely harness, and these handmade bits

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Louise Ellis makes beautiful jewelry from antique buttons, bridle rosettes, and poker / game pieces ... and braided horsehair (shown here)

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After the morning’s final lecture, we all had a free afternoon to visit the Colonial Williamsburg stables and the Historic Area and its trade shops.

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On my walk to the stables, I passed these 18th-c. men playing a game of horseshoes

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this Landau was built by Colonial Williamsburg in 1960; it was used (driven by Richard Nicoll) for HM The Queen's visit to Williamsburg in 2007

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this Demi-Landau was probably built in Philadelphia sometime between 1818 and 1840; it can be driven by a coachman or, with the coachman's seat removed, by a postilion

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... a close-up of the Demi-Landau

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the Riding Chair was basically just that: a chair on wheels

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in the harness room, I met this sweetie, who was lying on top of a bucket full of towels

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detail of a driving bridle in the harness room; I assume these bridles go with the Landau above, as the squirrel on the panels (below) is repeated here on the blinkers

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the Landau's squirrel

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in the aisleway of the stables was a display with information on Colonial Williamsburg's important rare-breeds program, including a live appearance by this, and one other, Leicester Longwool sheep, and several rare breeds of chickens

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After leaving the stables, I walked through town to the wheelwrights’ shop. I’ll post photos from that visit tomorrow.

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