Tuesday, November 27, 2012

History On the Holiday

by Maggie Sefton



After enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with old friends and family in Northern Virginia, my daughter Melissa and I took a little trip into America's colonial past by visiting the marvelous and carefully preserved historical area of Colonial Williamsburg, just a short three-hour drive south of Washington, DC.  

Colonial Williamsburg contains most of the 17th Century buildings of what was once the state capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  The Govenor's Palace complete with beautiful gardens once housed England's royal representative to her earliest established colony.  English colonists established the first permanent colony in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607.

Visiting Colonial Williamsburg is a great way to "step back in time.". The colonial buildings and streets are filled with people who are dressed authentically for the 1600's and have definite roles to play in the town.  They are shopkeepers, tavern owners, militia, judges, and other ordinary citizens.  So you can watch them at work.  Also, various historical personages make regular appearances, so you can gather in the Palace gardens or elsewhere and hear George Washington or Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and others speak and answer questions from the audience.

For someone who began her writing career penning historical novels---as I did---an opportunity to immerse yourself in an authentic historical time is more than wonderful. The weekly presentations vary during the seasons, all the while emphasizing how our American colonies made the decision to create a new nation of our own---the United States of America.

Have any of you ever visited Colonial Williamsburg?  Or any other historical location or representation?

13 comments:

  1. Colonial Williamsburg is one of my favorite places in the whole world. The last time we were there we bought a one year pass. Just in case we could grab a long weekend and make the run down to Virginia.

    The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is at the top of our donation list.

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  2. Lovely post, I'd love to visit one day.

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  3. I have visited once about 30 years ago for 3 days. I would love to go back as my visit was not the most pleasant as I developed an abscessed tooth the day we got into town and I had to find a dentist so my visit could have been better. However, I live in Texas and it is not a quick drive to visit so I have not been able to go back. Perhaps one day I can return.

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  4. Friends and I were hoping to make a day trip down to Colonial Willamsburg when we were in DC a decade plus ago, but didn't get down there. We did get down to Richmond, up to Fort McHenry and to Gettysburg, and on a previous trip visited Mount Vernon and two other plantations in the area. Would love to get out that way again sometime!

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  5. On family vacations I have been to every place in the US with any historical importance attached to it. Ah, the memories of the un-air conditioned car with the vinyl seats, 4 kids, 2 adults, the dog and the two cats plus all the camping gear. Fond memories...not. Well, sort of as a distant memory.

    I've been to Williamsburg at least twice and the last time was within the last 10 years. I definitely recommend it for families with kids 10 and up. Maybe do some back ground reading with the kids first.

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  6. The Alamo, Grant's Farm, Mark Twain's home town of Hannibal Mo, Gettysburg, and each of them were memorable for different reasons. I think The Alamo and Gettysburg were the most emotional.

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  7. Four years at William and Mary, in a dorm within a ten minute walk from the historic area ... There was a time, for a while there, that I thought I knew every darn brick in every darn building there! I always think of myself as having lived in the 18th century during my college years. But that was four decades ago now, and I haven't been back since. I miss the old place, wonder what it's like now, if there are still fig trees in the Governor's Palace gardens (and if the tourists still don't recognize the lovely bounty lying at their feet), and if the canons firing at the Powder Magazine still serve as a terrifying alarm clock for the unwary visitor sleeping within earshot ...--Mario R.

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  8. NoraA---I'm so glad to hear that you're donating to Colonial Williamsburg. I also donate to them. They do such great work. And I also bought a year pass. I'm going to make sure I return in the summer and again in the fall.


    Aurian---I hope you get a chance to visit. You're love it. :)

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  9. ladyvyvian---oh, I hope you get another chance to visit. A painful tooth would certainly ruin your visit. I'm sorry that happened.

    Heather---I don't know where you live, but I really hope you drive that way again so you can visit Colonial Williamsburg. It sounds like you love seeing historical sites, so you would REALLY have a great time there. :)

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  10. Anne----I had to LOL at your description of those looooong family car trips. Boy, did that bring back memories. We had 4 kids and 2 adults in our old station wagon, yes---with vinyl seats. But we didn't take the dog and cat along. How on earth did you manage that? :)

    Annette---I know what you mean about the Alamo and Gettysburg. It feels positively spiritual there. It must be because of all the spirits of the thousands that died there.

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  11. JJM---(Mario)---You should really come back and visit. You probably haven't seen it since that larger Visitors Welcome Center was built. I remember when I was a little girl, my mom and I visited and stayed in a lady's house right there in the main part of town. It was precious and was called the Crepe Myrtle House. And yes, the cannons are still firing at the Magazine and startling everyone. :)

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  12. I ♥ Colonial Williamsburg and have loved visiting there since I was 10. There is so much to see and learn, it can never become redundant, no matter how many times you visit.

    And anyone who visits should make sure to say hello to Elaine, who cares for the sheep and the cattle, etc. She lots of fun and full of knowledge.

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  13. I fell in love with Colonial Williamsburg when I was in elementary school (in the 50's) when we were shown a movie of the restoration process. It was fascinating to me. I was in my early 30's before i was able to see it in person, but I was mesmerized, back to me 10 year old self again.
    I have been back one other time, about 15 years ago, and am a bit disappointed in it's commercialization. But I do understand that it is expensive to maintain the grounds and buildings, hire the actors and develop new programs. I am glad they have added the stories of the slaves and free blacks. I think it makes for a more authentic story.

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