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Then and Now

“Then and Now” contrasts early Williamsburg photographs with present-day appearances. A printed version, called “Pleasantly Situated,” appears in each issue of Colonial Williamsburg's journal.





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Then and Now

Brafferton Building

Raised in 1723, the Brafferton is a five-bay Georgian brick building on the College of William and Mary campus, 52 feet long and 34 feet deep. The most original colonial structure on the grounds—the Wren having burned and risen three times—it contains two main floors and a finished attic and has been variously incarnated over the centuries as classrooms, a dining hall, and a professor’s residence, but it began life as a school for Indians.

Like its English cousins, the College of William and Mary schooled young men in the ways of the Lord as well as those of the world, producing clergymen and missionaries in addition to scholars and gentlemen. The college’s 1693 charter charged it with training young Native Americans to bring the Anglican religion to their people, a task underwritten in 1697 by income from the estate of English natural philosopher Robert Boyle, whose manor in Yorkshire was named Brafferton. The new home for the Indian school provided classroom space and quarters for the master, but it was a wavering project, with few students. In 1785, Thomas Jefferson recommended that it be abandoned.

Perry, Shaw, and Hepburn, the Restoration’s architects, guided renovation of the building in 1931–32, with minor changes to the original third-floor plan and new framing and steel girders to replace the building’s rotting superstructure. It functions as office space for the college.

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Then and Now

Bassett Hall

In November 1926, Williamsburg’s Reverend Dr. W. A. R. Goodwin wrote to John D. Rockefeller Jr., the New York philanthropist he was persuading to partner in the city’s restoration, “I wish you would buy Bassett Hall for yourself. It would give you a charming vantage point from which to play with the vision and dream which you see, and it might give me the joy of being your ‘playmate’ in this dreamland playground.” Rockefeller financed its acquisition the next year for their collaboration. Referring to nineteenth-century owner Burwell Bassett—a Martha Washington nephew, and a congressman—its name embraces all of what had been a Francis Street farm, not just the residence.

A spring 1930 lightning-strike fire reduced Bassett Hall’s house to the nightmare in the archival photo above. Resident Rockefeller executive Kenneth Chorley dashed into the flames, broke away elements of the central staircase, and bustled them outside. Firefighters saved what they could of the rest of the circa-1740 structure. But it would be six years of restoration, additions, and improvements before Rockefeller took possession. Bassett Hall was his family’s private Williamsburg home until 1979, when it returned the deed to Colonial Williamsburg. The color inset shows the house, its furnishings returned to her grandfather’s era by a 2001 gift from Abby O’Neill. It is now a museum.

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Then and Now

Wren Building -
The College of William & Mary

The oldest academic structure in the United States, the 314-year-old Wren Building of the College of William and Mary in Virginia, is yet to be finished to the specifications of its original designer—whoever he may have been—alumnus Thomas Jefferson’s best efforts notwithstanding. But first things first.

The dormered edifice in the inset above represents the Wren as it stood circa 1718 to 1859, but is its fifth iteration and dates but to 1931. That’s when Colonial Williamsburg finished the hall’s restoration, reworking the fourth version, the one in the larger 1902 postcard picture.

The Wren’s claim to educational precedence rests on the remnants of the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century walls and foundations that survived fires in 1705, 1859, and 1862, and are part of its fabric.

The first Wren, completed in 1700 after five years of fitful labor, was to have been a square enclosing a courtyard, but languished in an L-shape until 1732, when the addition of a chapel made it a U. At the behest of Virginia’s governor, Jefferson drafted plans to add the final fourth wing in 1772, but the Revolution halted construction and work never resumed.

For centuries the structure was called the Main Building or the College, but a doubtful report of 1724 attributed its design to England’s Sir Christopher Wren, hence the nickname. In 1928, when its restoration began, Virginia’s legislature made the monicker official.

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Then and Now

Moody House

If in life there were do-overs, Colonial Williamsburg’s reconstructed Moody House likely would not have been. Done over, that is. Put another way, if heed had been paid the Reverend Dr. W. A. R. Goodwin, “one of the most charming Colonial houses in Williamsburg”—a four-bay, story-and- a-half, Francis Street residence—might still wear much of its eighteenth-century fabric. Instead, it was razed for a facsimile. That was in August 1939, when Goodwin, a father of the city’s revival, lay dying in an oxygen tent, and administrators, declaring the property decrepit, slated it for rapid reconstruction as modern guest accommodations, eschewing its painstaking restoration to old authenticity.

In its first iteration, the 1725–50 building stood 18 by 32 feet on a New England–style plan seen in a few Williamsburg homes. A central hall separated two rooms as it passed to a terminating central chimney stack, a ladder likely leading to the loft. By century’s end, when blacksmith Josiah Moody moved in, the house had grown closer to today’s 28-foot 3-inch by 45-foot 3-inch replacement with proper stairs, and chimneys east and west superseding the original. Except for the stacks’ lower shafts, workmen demolished everything and by May 1940 erected a Williamsburg Inn–adjunct with a colonial-copy exterior. Inside, they reinstalled all visible portions of the stairs and most of the original floor-boards, as well as three ancient interior doors, and created five up-to-date bedrooms with baths.

So the house remained until its 1950 conversion to a single-family dwelling. That year architects A. Lawrence Kocher and Howard Dearstyne, citing a survey colleague Singleton Moorehead conducted twenty-one years before, concluded the original Moody House readily could have been saved and should have been. “That the house merited scrupulous restoration appears from statements made in 1929, when its reconditioning was first seriously being considered, by persons whose opinions command respect.” Nevertheless, they applauded the care taken with the replacement.

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Then and Now

President's House -
The College of William & Mary

British General Lord Charles Cornwallis, battle-wounded French soldiers, marauding Yankees, and assorted heads of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg have made do with a house made of common brick on the north edge of the school’s original campus. Contractor Henry Cary Jr. supervised the ceremonial laying of its foundation by the first president, James Blair, and four teachers July 31, 1732. He finished the five-bay, two-story President’s House in Flemish bond with glazed headers and window arches of rubbed and gauged brick. Ousting occupant President James Madison, second cousin of another chief executive by that name, Cornwallis made it his headquarters June 25, 1781, when the British invaded. French officers hurt helping the Americans defeat his Public Domain lordship at the Siege of Yorktown were hospitalized in its eight rooms and cellar September 15. Fire gutted the hip-roofed hospital December 22. The college, reimbursed with £12,000 in French funds in 1786, repaired it. During the War between the States, Union troops carried off parts of the interior for firewood.

The drawing above, executed in 1881, shows the house as it stood during the Yorktown Centennial. Colonial Williamsburg restored the house to its eighteenth-century appearance in 1931, as the color inset shows, removing exterior additions, and making minor interior renovations. It remains the private residence of William and Mary’s presidents.

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Then and Now

Booker's Tenement

Knocked together by landlord and carpenter Richard T. Booker in about 1826, the story-and-a-half Williamsburg rental in the black-and-white archival photo was not pleasantly situated at all. A tan yard bubbled next door to the four-rooms-and-a-basement Nicholson Street house. Later, a slaughterhouse rose eighty feet away.

Poorly built, Booker’s Tenement got so little upkeep that renter Philip Moody sued in 1831 for repair of a faulty fireplace and a leaky roof before he would take up his lease. Booker, whom researcher Donna C. Hole found spent much of his life in debt, had to apply Moody’s $40 quarterly payments to repairs. Son of a cabinetmaker, Booker divided his attention among his trade, real estate adventures, and duties as city constable and James City County keeper of the jail up the street. He moved to Richmond in 1837.

Confusions of property lines and titles, compounded by a loss of records, led later owners to mislabel the house Redwood’s Ordinary after an early holder of adjacent lots and a clan of tavern keepers who had owned Booker’s place. By 1972, when Colonial Williamsburg acquired a 100-year lease on the property, its history had been untangled. Rescued, studied, stabilized, and repaired, but not, for the expense, yet restored, Booker Tenement, as shown in the color inset, today stands empty. A sign on its lawn reads in part: “It is monitored and inspected periodically. . . . its future use has not been determined.”

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Richmond's oldest standing house

The oldest house still standing in Richmond, Virginia, was seldom known for what it was. During its almost 260 years, it has been called Washington’s Headquarters, Washington’s Old Headquarters, the Stone House, the Old Stone House, Home for the Bride, the Jacob Ege House, and Edgar Allan Poe’s place. An old stone house it is for sure, but Washington never headquartered in it, and Edgar Allan Poe never slept there. So far as anyone knows, Poe had in his life little more to do with it than on a day in 1824 when the Marquis de Lafayette, revisiting America, stopped by. A fifteen-year-old budding writer, a neighborhood lad and a volunteer in the Junior Morgan Riflemen, Poe stood among the honor guard outside. Tradition had it that Jacob Ege, a flour inspector, built the place for his betrothed—hence Home for the Bride. But the building dates to about 1754, and the Eges moved in about 1783. In 1888, Richmond boosters published the black and white photo above. Preservation Virginia acquired the house in 1911, and opened it in 1922 as the Edgar Allan Poe Shrine. Today, as the color photo shows, it is the Museum of Edgar Allan Poe and exhibits artifacts with him associated.

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Masonic lodge

By the time Williamsburg’s Freemasons determined to attempt the restoration of their more than 130-year-old meeting hall, it was too late. They could not, however, have acted much sooner. Their lodge had owned the building for but a year. That year was 1906, the year Williamsburg Lodge #6 secured title to the T-shaped, wood-frame building it had leased since about 1775. Off and on, the sometimes-inactive lodge met until 1891 in the second-floor chamber of the Francis Street structure shown in the circa-1907 black and white photo above. In 1856 or so, members obtained the property, individually taking about twenty-five shares in the title.

As the 300th anniversary of Jamestown’s 1607 founding neared, brother and Reverend Dr. W. A. R. Goodwin’s first restoration of Bruton Parish Church progressed, and enthusiasm for the revival of all things colonial swept Virginia’s Historic Triangle, the lodge rounded up the shares and hired architect S. R. Remington to draft renovation plans. The Masons’ project, however, proved, in the word of a Colonial Williamsburg historian, “unfeasible.” In 1910, workmen dismantled the building, put a picket fence around the lot, and covered the masonry foundations.

So things stood until 1931, when John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s restoration of the town was under way. On their own, the Masons raised on the site the harmonious brick gathering place shown in the color inset, using some original foundation bricks in their new hall’s chimney. Williamsburg’s Masons meet there still.

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Civil War Monument at Palace Green

A tall marble spike that rose on Williamsburg’s Palace Green became a point of contention in 1932 during the city’s restoration. Dedicated with fanfare May 5, 1908—forty−sixth anniversary of the Battle of Williamsburg—to the fallen Confederate soldiers and sailors of the city and adjoining James City County, the obelisk stood next to the Duke of Gloucester Street, the city’s main thoroughfare. Sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy’s local chapter, private subscriptions and public funds provided $1,500 for the cenotaph and paid to inscribe it, “Lord God of Hosts, Be With us yet, Lest we forget, Lest we forget.” Now it was a physical and cultural obstacle in the reconstruction of an eighteenth−century Virginia capital, obstructing a clear colonial vista and muddling the restoration’s message.

In December 1931, the UDC and Colonial Williamsburg’s forerunner, the Williamsburg Holding Corporation agreed to the monument’s relocation to the Confederate section of nearby Cedar Grove Cemetery, provided local government concurred and the corporation paid. A company crew trucked it off early the morning of January 21, dumping it disassembled in the graveyard, prompting angry demands for its return, and a dispute that fractured the community before it turned into a lawsuit. Restoration founder W. A. R. Goodwin brokered a compromise that on May 9 installed the memorial next to a new Francis Street courthouse. There it stood until government built another courthouse, and another, each time splintering constituencies over its relocation. For almost a decade the obelisk has rested in the Bicentennial Park ravine behind the Publick Hospital, nearly out of sight but not quite out of mind.

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Then and Now

Martha Washington’s Kitchen

The young Williamsburg thespians in the circa-1911 black and white above drew on invention and imagination, as well as a trunk of props and costumes, to stage what looks to have been a Washington’s birthday theatrical farce. That’s probably why they picked the small, whitewashed brick outbuilding for a cast photo backdrop; tradition had attached to it the title “Martha Washington’s Kitchen.” The man in the gown at the door seems to have played the original of that name, which may explain the expression on the face of her facsimile second husband, George, standing beside her. It is harder to explain the reproachful looks of the couple at right, or the broom held by the actor at far left—the fellow being poked in the throat with a cane.

Alas, the name of the building was as fanciful as some of the poses and outfits. Standing on a ridge of land once owned by Martha’s first husband, Daniel Parke Custis, at the southern edge of town, the structure was indeed a kitchen. But Colonial Williamsburg dates it to about 1811, thirty-three years after the property passed out of the Custis family, and nine years after Martha Washington died. Nevertheless, the kitchen, now called the Custis Kitchen, is old enough to be numbered among Colonial Williamsburg’s eighty-eight original buildings and stands today restored in a pasture east of the Publick Hospital, as shown in the color inset.

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Then and Now

Parkway Tunnel

In 1933, it looked as if the parkway the department of Interior had commissioned to connect Jamestown and Yorktown would slice Colonial Williamsburg in two, isolating its east end from its west. The Reverend Dr. W. A. R. Goodwin, who seven years before had taken to John D. Rockefeller Jr. the idea of restoring the former colonial capital, had another idea. A tunnel. Rockefeller said, “I never heard of a crazier idea in my life.” But the idea grew on him, and he invited Interior Secretary Harold Ickes to Williamsburg for a weekend to try it out on him. Kenneth Chorley, then Colonial Williamsburg’s president, wrote, “Mr. Rockefeller was driving the car and the secretary was sitting in the front seat, and I was in the back seat. He was selling the idea to Secretary Ickes so the government would pay for it. As you know, Mr. Rockefeller was completely successful.”

Interior let the contract January 11, 1940, and construction started in mid-April. A builder dug a trench, poured a series of 17 foot 10 inch concrete arches, and began backfilling. World War II halted work and the tunnel was barricaded until its dedication May 10, 1949.

Thirty-feet wide, the tunnel runs beneath four streets for 1,183 feet, carrying cars through the Historic Area’s heart unnoticed, as the color inset does or doesn't show.

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Then and Now

Rolfe-Warren House

Philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s interest in colonial Virginia buildings extended beyond the collection he and the Reverend Dr. W. A. R. Goodwin acquired, restored, and reconstructed in Williamsburg. The opportunity of buying for himself Lower Brandon, an eighteenth—century mansion on the south shore of the James River, brought him to the state in 1926. Though he decided against that purchase, two years later he obtained the derelict home in the early twentieth-century black-and-white above, a circa-1763, southside, story-and-a-half, four rooms with central hall, and two-chamber-basement house with a history so clouded by romance and time that it wasn't clear what to call the place.

Some locals referred to it as the Fifty-foot Brick House, as an ancient deed described it. Others said the Rolfe House, because it stood on land presented to planter John Rolfe in 1614 by father-in-law Powhatan when Rolfe married Pocahontas. Son Thomas Rolfe took possession of the acreage in 1635. Some called it the Warren House, after Thomas Warren, who built a home–but not this one–on the land about 1652.

To confuse matters more, the house stands on Smith’s Fort Plantation, where survive the remains of an earthen rampart Captain John Smith built in 1609. Today it is the Rolfe-Warren House, though dendrochronology now shows that farmer, merchant, and Surry County Clerk Jacob Faulcon built it not long before 1765.

Rockefeller’s Williamsburg Holding Corporation took title in 1928, restored the house in 1933, and deeded it to Preservation Virginia in appreciation of its help in the founding of Colonial Williamsburg. It is today an exhibition, as shown in the color inset.

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Then and Now

The St. George Tucker House

Before Judge St. George Tucker was finished with this old Williamsburg house, he had carried it across three Palace Green lots to face Nicholson Street and Market Square, and turned a story-and-a-half, four-room affair into a two-story home with dormered east and west wings, a coveredway connection to the kitchen, a habitable cellar, and a deep lean-to-like back hall with two handsome staircases. Tucker needed the space. Under those roofs sheltered ten children, his wife, himself, and a housekeeper.

Theatrical manager William Levingston built the core of the structure circa 1717, about the same time Levingston raised English America’s first playhouse next door. Tucker, who would take the state bench in 1803 and federal robes in 1813, was in 1788 a lawyer and new College of William and Mary law professor. He acquired the home that year from absentee landlord Governor Edmund Randolph, and set to work. Eight years of sawing, hammering, and bricklaying later, it looked much as it looks today, restored, in the color photograph.

The restoration, begun in 1930 and finished in 1931, took a lot of work, too. Look at the archival black-and-white picture and compare, among other things, the arrangement of windows around the front door, the nineteenth-century lawyer’s office on the front lawn to the left, the then two-story kitchen behind it, and, to the right, the porch and doorway.

Tucker descendants lived in the home until 1992. After much research and more renovations, it opened in 1996 as Colonial Williamsburg’s reception center for donors making annual gifts of $100 or more. It also is open for tours.

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The Taliaferro-Cole House

Coach and chairmaker Charles Taliaferro—his surname is pronounced Toliver—owned fifteen Williamsburg properties, among them the eighteenth-century half of this weatherboarded house at the southeast corner of the Duke of Gloucester and Nassau Streets.

Business associate Jesse Cole bought the place from Taliaferro’s estate in 1804, and raised a nineteenth-century half, expanding the building fourteen feet to the east. When Colonial Williamsburg finished a year-long restoration of the structure in 1941, it was christened the Taliaferro-Cole House.

Originally a circa 1760s, narrow, 28-foot deep, 22-foot wide, two-story, two-rooms-above and two-rooms-under, low-gabled rectangle, its front door opened between two windows at right into a large space that likely first served as a store. Taliaferro, who also ran a warehouse, a brewery, and a boat and flat making business at College Landing, and a store next door–today’s Taliaferro-Cole Shop–acquired the building by 1769 and may or may not have used it commercially.

Between 1815 and 1830, Cole, an apothecary and storekeeper who also boarded College of William and Mary students and became Williamsburg’s postmaster and leader of its Freemasons, enlarged the house to the 27-by-36 foot, squarish structure that survives, repositioning the front door between the windows at left. The property, along with the shop, passed to his son Robert, and his grandson Henry, before Colonial Williamsburg acquired it in 1939. It is a private residence.

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The Peyton Randolph House

There’s more to the Peyton Randolph house than meets the eye. And less. What appears in a nineteenth-century black-and-white archival photograph to be, as a Colonial Williamsburg researcher put it, “a substantial seven-bay Georgian house,” is but two-thirds of what in the eighteenth century had been a three-structure assemblage– a square two-story west wing built about 1715, a story-and-a-half east wing erected before 1724, and a middle unit constructed to join them in 1753. The house, which first fronted west on England Street, was, with the raising of the middle unit, reoriented south to address Market Square. The east wing vanished before 1783, to be reconstructed more than 150 years later, as the color inset shows.

Sir John Randolph, a lawyer, Virginia’s first knight, and a speaker of the House of Burgesses, bought the property in 1724. Second son, Peyton, inherited in 1737. In the decades before the Revolution, Peyton Randolph, also a lawyer and a House speaker, “presided at every important assembly in Virginia” and was president of the First Continental Congress.

His home was a resort of the colony’s power brokers–among them cousin Thomas Jefferson. Rochambeau made his headquarters there before Yorktown, and Lafayette spent a night in 1824, about the time it became a boarding house. Colonial Williamsburg opened the home as an exhibition in 1968. Close

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Then and Now

Market Square

Right of center in the black-and-white 1920s snapshot above, the sharp eye discovers, half-hidden by a tree, what was in the Williamsburg of those times called the Powder Horn. Known now as the Magazine, it alone remains on the south side of Market Square, as the color photo below shows. During the city's restoration, Colonial Williamsburg reclaimed an eighteenth-century tavern from the fabric of the Raleigh Hotel at far left in the archival picture, and demolished, left to right, the Spencer and Dana Real Estate office, the Stone Store, the Baptist parish house, and the Baptist Church, as well as a bungalow and tearoom hidden behind it. It moved Bell Hospital, at far right, to the College of William and Mary, and razed the Toot-an-kum-in Garage lurking in the rear. At extreme right in both photos is the east edge of the Courthouse of 1770.

Laid out by Governor Francis Nicholson in 1699, Market Square was intended for the town common and stands near Williamsburg's center, bisected by Duke of Gloucester Street. Buildings soon rose on the south half–in 1716, the Magazine; in 1755 a magazine wall and the Guardhouse; in 1757, a Market House–as Market Square became a commercial, civic, and military hub. By 1926, said one writer, “thirty structures of varying purpose and design, ranging from a national bank to a pig sty, had risen upon the southern part of the Market Square.” Today it looks much as it did by 1767.

For more information about Historic Area buildings, visit http://research.history.org/ewilliamsburg2/.

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The John Blair House

Among Williamsburg’s oldest and most historic homes, in 1921 the John Blair House was to be razed to make room for a service station. Or maybe a dry goods store. Then Jonathan Garland Pollard stepped in. Dean of the College of William and Mary’s new law school, sometime mayor, and later Virginia’s governor, Pollard bought the ramshackle, clapboard, story-and-a-half, Duke of Gloucester Street residence just to save it.

The much remodeled, two-family place was so old the dates of the construction of its original east wing and its western addition were lost and forgotten. Townspeople remembered, however, that it had sheltered John Blair Jr., a colonial burgess and council member, later a judge, and a framer of the Virginia Bill of Rights, as well as the federal A Constitution, whom President George Washington appointed to the first Supreme Court of the United States.

Pollard’s fellow professors Walter Montgomery and the Reverend Dr. W. A. R. Goodwin took it off Pollard’s hands at Christmas in 1923 by incorporating the Society for the Preservation of the Blair Homestead to secure the building and convey it to the college for an alumni clubhouse. The home’s preservation was the first in which Goodwin participated. He obtained title for Colonial Williamsburg in 1928, the year after Goodwin and John D. Rockefeller Jr. launched the eighteenth-century city’s revival. The Blair’s restoration began in 1930. It is today a private residence.

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The Palmer House

In the eyes of restoration experts, the Palmer House was about twice too big to fit into Colonial Williamsburg’s eighteenth-century scheme of things. Named for owner and lawyer John Palmer–clerk of the Governor’s Council, Bruton Parish vestryman, and bursar of the College of William and Mary–the two-story brick had stood hard by the Capitol at the east end of Duke of Gloucester Street since about 1754. Part of it, at least.

Despite its bilateral symmetry, and protests of the town’s old-timers, architects and archaeologists were certain the eastern end of the place was not colonial. Looking behind the plaster on the east side of the central hall, they saw they were right. There were bricked-up windows and dead ivy on what had been an exterior wall.

Merchant William W. Vest, perhaps the wealthiest man in town, bought the house in 1834 and, in 1858, almost doubled it to the size shown in the archival black-and-white photo. Confederates commandeered the house for headquarters before the Battle of Williamsburg, and the Yankees afterward.

Colonial Williamsburg demolished Vest’s addition, deleted his attic dormer windows, reworked the interior, and strengthened the structure with steel in a restoration completed in 1952.

For more information about Historic area buildings, visit http://research.history.org/ewilliamsburg2/

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Dr. Barraud House

Probably begun as a rental house by apothecary William Carter or blacksmith James Anderson in the 1760s or early 1770s, this home at the corner of Francis and Botetourt is among The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s most original and best preserved. It is named the Dr. Barraud House for Norfolk physician Philip Barraud who, after learning his trade in Revolutionary War hospitals, opened a Williamsburg practice and bought the place in 1782 or 1783–about the time he married. A visiting doctor and director of Williamsburg’s Public Hospital as well as a member of the College of William and Mary’s board of visitors, he lived here about sixteen years and with wife Anne under its roof brought into the world six of the couple’s nine children.

Judge St. George Tucker said he knew no doctor “so punctual to the duties of his profession,” but Barraud’s practice dwindled. In 1796, he wrote, “I am now on Foot again, in all the Leisure of a Gentleman-Doctor with not Business enough to make the Pott boil, or give Feed to my Horse–our whole country enjoys unparalled health.” He moved on; Thomas Jefferson helped him obtain charge of Norfolk’s Marine Hospital in 1799.

Colonial Williamsburg bought the house in 1940, and restored it in 1942. It remained a private residence until a gift from William and Sarah Kimball financed its renovation in 1988, when it became an accommodation for the Raleigh Tavern Society, the foundation’s leading donor group.

For more information about Historic area buildings, visit http://research.history.org/ewilliamsburg2/

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The Roscow Cole house

The Roscow Cole house has anchored the east end of the block of buildings between Williamsburg’s Market Square and Palace Green since about 1812. Named by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation for the merchant who built it and owned it until 1854, the two-story structure replaced a house that, according to a townsman of the time, had by the late eighteenth century become the tumbledown lodgings of a succession of paupers. The vanished structure, which seems from the house histories to have traced its first form to circa 1719, had, with its outbuildings, before sheltered a tailor, a wigmaker, a doctor-apothecary, a barber-surgeon, storekeepers, and two dentists, one of whom worked on George Washington’s teeth. Among its early owners was gunsmith James Geddy Sr., whose son’s clapboarded home still stands at the further end of the block.

The Reverend Dr. W. A. R. Goodwin of Bruton Parish Church bought the Roscow Cole for John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s restoration of the city from Mary G. Peachy, a member of a prominent family, in 1927. Work on its renovation began in 1928, though Peachy descendants T. F. and Virginia Peachy Rogers remained residents until 1931. It serves today for foundation staff offices and facilities.

For further information about Historic Area buildings, visit http://research.history.org/ewilliamsburg2

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Chowning's Tavern

Colonial Williamsburg reconstructed Chowning's Tavern, at bottom, in the spirit of conjecture and the convivial eighteenth-century alehouses that stood elsewhere in Virginia's Tidewater and in England. Architects, eyeing a 1780s map that shows two buildings on adjoining lots at the eastern boundary of northern Market Square, designed it to appear to be a storehouse and an ordinary joined by a center entry. Opened in 1941 as a modern operating tavern, as it is today, Chowning's occupies colonial business sites successively home to, among others, a tailor, a blacksmith, a wheelwright, merchants, and, apparently, the spirits establishment Josiah Chowning ran from 1766 to 1768.

When Williamsburg's restoration began in 1927, the hotel pictured at top dominated the properties. Known as the City Hotel, Colonial Hotel, Colonial Inn, Spencer's, Williamsburg Inn, and Williamsburg Inn Annex, it dated to about 1859. Union soldiers used it for a commissary during the Civil War, and flew from its front a United States flag Old-timer John Charles said, ‘The girls of Williamsburg, to avoid walking under it, used to walk out in the road.’ During its career, owners added porches, a roof turret, and an extension, and townspeople made it central to community life. Wreckers demolished it in 1939.

For further information about Historic Area buildings, visit http://research.history.org/ewilliamsburg2

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The Magazine

In 1715, when ‘magazine’ still commonly meant ‘storehouse,’ Virginia, in need of a place to keep military equipment, began to build one on Williamsburg's Market Square. Apparently designed by Governor Alexander Spotswood, constructed by Henry Tyler, and finished in 1716, the octagonal, two-story-with-attic brick armory sequestered small arms, tents, canteens, shot, rope, flints, gunpowder, and such. In 1755, during the French and Indian War, the colony enhanced it with a ten-foot-tall brick wall.

Governor Dunmore turned the Public Magazine into the flashpoint of the Revolution in Virginia when, at his orders, royal marines rifled it for the unquiet colony's gunpowder before dawn, April 21, 1775. After that war, it served for a market house, a Baptist meetinghouse, a Confederate arsenal, a dancing school, a stable, and an Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities museum. The black-and-white photo shows the magazine after 1890, when the APVA bought the falling-down relic for renovation from Moses R. Harrell for $400, and before 1934, when Colonial Williamsburg and the association undertook its restoration and joint exhibition. The color photo shows the Magazine leased by Colonial Williamsburg in 1934 and purchased in 1986'as it is exhibited today.

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The Greenhow Brick Office

In the eighteenth century, iron bars guarded the windows of the story-and-a-half Greenhow Brick Office on Williamsburg's Market Square. On the first floor, the single, undivided room had diagonal bars hinged from the outside and secured by bolts from within. When Colonial Williamsburg began the building's restoration in 1948, experts trying to fathom its original, eighteenth-century purpose were confined to theorization. Tradition made the place the capital's Debtor's Prison, or a jail. Without ruling it out as a dwelling, researchers favored the idea of a lockup, but could document no slammer of any sort on the site.

A 1782 map shows an unlabeled edifice of its shape at the location, just below the boundary dividing Williamsburg between James City County on the south, and York County on the north. But most of James City County's records were destroyed in 1865, and no paper that survives from the 1700s describes the building's purpose. In 1801, merchant Robert Greenhow took out an insurance policy that said he maintained it as a storage building, as, it seems, had his father, John Greenhow, before him. They called it ‘a lumber house,’ a storage place that, like any 1700s outbuilding, would come within the definition of an ‘office.’

Current thinking is that building, shown today in the color inset, was raised after 1760 in answer to an investigation that faulted Williamsburg, the port for the nearest reach of the James River, for having no proper customs house. A customs house might explain the bars.

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Then and Now

The Public Gaol

The core of eighteenth-century Virginia's central prison, the 1704 lockup in this black and white archival photo, was, when Williamsburg's restoration began in 1927, all that remained of what during the 1700s had evolved into a walled, three structure compound that numbered among its inmates not only assorted miscreants but the keeper and his family. At that, the surviving pitched-roof structure was much reworked from what records say was by 1741 a flat roofed gaol to use the colonial word for jail'that confined felons in two western cells, and, across an exercise yard, debtors in two eastern chambers.

The first gaoler, John Redwood, had charge of prisoners dispatched from county gaols to Williamsburg for General Court trial of cases punishable by hanging or maiming, and was as well caretaker of the Capitol uphill to the south. The General Assembly authorized a debtors' prison addition in 1711, and a keeper's house in 1722. Apart from ordinary murderers, thieves, counterfeiters, and the like, the gaol confined refractory Indians, slave-revolt conspirators, pirates including some of Blackbeard’s and redcoat Revolutionary War trophy Henry ‘Hair Buyer’ Hamilton.

During the Civil War, says a historical report, federal soldiers occupying the area demolished all but the original structure for bricks to build quarters. What was left served local needs into the nineteenth century. The first color inset shows a portion of the surviving southern wall, and the second, a view of the gaol today, rebuilt on the ancient foundations.

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Then and Now

The George Jackson House & Store

The Library of Congress catalogue card accompanying the 1920s archival black-and-white photo of what was left of eighteenth-century Williamsburg merchant George Jackson’s abode says only: “destroyed c. 1933.” There is more to the story.

Jackson moved from Norfolk to Virginia’s capital in 1773 or 1774, buying the circa-1767 four-room house and adjoining store with its York Street lot from businessman Lewis Hansford. Jackson lived there—renovating and repairing the place from 1783 to 1793—until his death in 1794. Jackson’s daughter Sarah inherited the property and lived in it on and off until her death in 1854.

A Williamsburg newspaper reported in her obituary that her father was:

a patriot, who at a gloomy period of the American Revolution, chartered a vessel to Bermuda, and there secretly at eminent peril of life, procured a supply of gunpowder, with which he returned in safety to the Old Dominion, and placed in the possession of his then desponding country.

Architects made measured drawings of the house in 1928, as Williamsburg’s restoration began, and Colonial Williamsburg acquired the property in 1939, but the lot stood empty until 1954. Reconstructed on its original site, the George Jackson House and Store today takes the shade of tall old trees on the north side of Francis Street at the Historic Area’s east end—as the inset shows—and is among the lodgings available to Colonial Williamsburg hotel guests.

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Then and Now

The Ludwell-Paradise House

The Ludwell-Paradise House on Duke of Gloucester Street is the third Williamsburg structure John D. Rockefeller Jr. invested in, and the first he purchased outright, as he considered the Reverend Dr. W. A. R. Goodwin's proposal to finance the city's restoration. Rockefeller pledged $10,000 November 29, 1926, to Goodwin, a College of William and Mary fund-raiser and Bruton Parish's rector, for restoration studies of the school's Wren Building. December 2 he promised what worked out to be $10,000 toward rehabilitation of the parish's George Wythe House. Five days later, on the chance he'd adopt Goodwin's plan and need the Ludwell-Paradise, Rockefeller authorized the minister to buy the vacant, circa-1716 home for $8,000 to transfer in trust to the college for faculty housing. Rockefeller decided November 22, 1927, to launch what became Colonial Williamsburg and asked the school in 1928 to return the deed. The house opened as an exhibition in April 1935, four months after its restoration was finished. The black-and-white Historic American Buildings Survey photograph above shows the house—named for early owners—during renovations. The home once exhibited Abby Aldrich Rockefeller's folk art collection and is now, as depicted in the color image, a private residence.

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Then and Now

The Courthouse

Look at those four columns supporting the pediment of Williamsburg's Courthouse of 1770. Seen them before? Probably not. Not unless you happened down the Duke of Gloucester Street between the summer of 1911 and the autumn of 1932. Before and after, they weren't there. Not in the earliest surviving image of the building, drawn in 1796. Nor in the earliest 1900s photographs.

Town tradition was that such supports had been ordered from England in the 1770s the Courthouse's original stone steps came from Great Britain in 1772 but that the Revolution forestalled their delivery. They still hadn't arrived by the night in April 1911 that fire destroyed the structure's roof and interior. Rebuilding the Courthouse was an opportunity, folks figured, to supply the place of the missing shipment with homemade columns of brick covered in cement. But, as Colonial Williamsburg ascertained when it began the Courthouse's restoration in 1932, there was no evidence that such an order had been written or that there were such columns in the 18th century, and it took these down.

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Then and Now

The Brush-Everard House

An expert appraisal says this Palace Green Street house “is one of the most precious of the architectural possessions of Colonial Williamsburg.” Built about 1718 by gunsmith John Brush, first keeper of the Magazine, it had two front rooms and a hall. It has sheltered an apothecary, a dancing master, a carpenter, a mayor, and a lawyer, among others. additions turned it into the U-shaped building exhibited today.

By turns called the Page, the Smith, the Audrey, the Brush-Everard, and, today, the Thomas Everard House, it was purchased from spinster sisters Estelle and Cora Smith for John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1928 by the Reverend Dr. W. A. R. Goodwin, and restored from 1947 to 1948.

Everard–clerk of the general court as well as Elizabeth City and York Counties, and twice mayor – lived here with his wife, Diana, and their two daughters by 1773. He had nineteen slaves, some of whom he dressed in livery. Everard died about 1781.

Audrey was the eponymous heroine of Mary Johnston’s 1902 novel. A romance, the book described a home just like the Everard, and though the author assured Goodwin the two houses were not the same, a generation of readers was certain they were.

One afternoon in 1918, the house was the undisputed residence of an escaped circus lion that took refuge on its porch.

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