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November 23, 2004

CW's Historic Trades integral part of re-creating Peyton Randolph site

Colonial Williamsburg prides itself on accuracy and authenticity, from its living history programs to its 18th-century trades that help preserve the best methods and customs of early American craftsmen by using 18th-century methods and tools. Perhaps nowhere is that more apparent today than at the Peyton Randolph complex where many of the foundation’s trades contribute to the site’s re-creation.

Contributing to this major project include:

  • The carpenters, who prepared materials for the construction of the buildings and constructed the buildings using 18th-century techniques.
  • By the end of the project, the brickmakers will have made and supplied more than 60,000 handmade bricks and provided plastering and masonry skills.
  • The James Anderson Blacksmith Shop has contributed nails, utensils and tools.
  • The cooper’s (or barrel maker) buckets, tubs and barrels provide containers for work as well as for storage and transportation of goods.
  • The basketweaver’s traditional baskets also provide a means to store and transport goods.
  • The James Geddy Foundry cast utensils for the site.
  • The Shoemaker’s Shop provides shoes and boots for interpreters and for building furnishings.
  • The Wheelwright provides wheeled vehicles for the site.
  • The Millinery Shop provides 18th-century style garments and accessories for building furnishings.
  • Historic Foodways staff interprets pre-Revolution cooking.
  • The rural trades staff (carpenters, coopers and basketmakers) also provide guidance for building furnishings and site activities.

    As guests visit the hands-on, interactive and participatory 18th-century Randolph site, they will experience all of the trades’ work that combined make this colonial urban plantation one of the liveliest and most compelling sites in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area.

    The tradesmen and women of Colonial Williamsburg are professional, full-time artisans dedicated to their specific trade. To ensure that skills are passed on, the trades have a formal training program that begins with an apprentice position to develop basic skills. Upon completion of the six- or seven-year program, the apprentice becomes a journeyman or journeywoman. The most skilled artisans are masters.

    Ultimately, the purpose of Colonial Williamsburg’s trades program today is to present and demonstrate early technology and its relevance to 21st-century guests. As a result of these efforts, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has one of the most comprehensive trades programs in the world and many of the trades it presents are practiced professionally nowhere else.

    Media Contact:
    Lorraine C. Brooks
    (757) 220-7280

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