I first set foot in Williamsburg 46 years ago and have
returned there often, just to walk around or photograph. There is no other place in the USA where preservation
has tried to keep the place as it once looked to Jefferson, Washington,
Lafayette and other contemporaries. Or captured the spirit of the age so well. I
believe it is a bit idealized since everything is so perfectly kept. Perhaps the aroma of the manure of the horses
carrying the tourists around, brings back a touch of reality as to how the olden
days really were.
Williamsburg is both a college and a tourist town. You can tell the college kids because they will
be jogging, riding bicycles or working as interpreters for Colonial
Williamsburg…not all of them…just the young ones. The Gen-X tourists are all
pushing baby strollers or yelling at kids.
Those of the golden age, chasing the tour leader, just walking around looking
at maps, or waiting in line to get into one of the Taverns. And then the photographers; always in the way
messing up my images.
Every year Colonial Williamsburg decorates for Christmas. Competitions for awards enhance the originality
and variety of the wreaths, not two are alike even if placed in the windows and
doors of the same building. In the 1970’s
I used to go there and photograph the doors and made Christmas Cards with them…it
was fun. This alone is worth a visit and
the best time is the week before Christmas when visitors are not numerous and
parking spaces can be found.
There also window decorations
just as elaborate as those in the doors.
I should mention that these wreaths are all made with “organic
materials” but do not know if they are from GMO certified farms. Yes, the fruits, grasses and greens are real. Lots of expense and work has gone into fabricating
The enactors do add a special
touch to the place. They are all dressed
in the attires of the 17th-18th centuries and speak in
the slang of the time (wonder how they know how people sounded back them). They just don’t talk but work as if they were
really back in history…they will discuss issues related to the period but if
you ask about events that occurred after their historical period, they would say
they have no knowledge of such subjects.
It is worthwhile spending sometime visiting them, they are patient,
courteous and really knowledgeable about the time period they represent.
Time to move on, this is a “must
visit place” thanks to the vision of John D, Rockefeller Jr and his wife
Aldrich, whose interest and support preserved this historical town. If you are short of time, an hour walk up and
down the Duke of Gloucester Street will provide most of that is worth seen.