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The Revolutionary City | MuseumsA Day in the Revolutionary City | Places to Stay | Places to Shop
On May 15, 1776, from The Capitol of what was England’s first permanent colony in the New World, Virginia legislators instructed their delegation at Philadelphia’s Continental Congress to introduce a resolution to make the colonies independent from Great Britain. The gentlemen at Williamsburg sat in the oldest representative assembly in what was then the world’s newest nation. The assembly traces its beginnings to 1619 when the House of Burgesses first convened at Jamestown.
Standing as evidence of the position the king's representative enjoyed in the capital of England’s largest American colony, the Governor’s Palace was the third largest public building in Williamsburg. The 3,380-square-foot Georgian home included an 11-bin wine cellar. The immaculate grounds offered a formal garden and natural park that stretched to the north. The stable, carriage house, kitchen, scullery, laundry, and an octagonal bathhouse were arranged in service yards. It was an elaborate household requiring 25 servants and slaves to tend.
Raleigh Tavern was the center of events and a gathering place where plans were made to join other colonies in the American Revolution. Meet people from the past and then enjoy freshly baked gingerbread cakes in the adjacent Bakery.
See The Magazine, the colonial arsenal housing a collection of muskets and cannon. Take part in musket-firing demonstrations and drills, watch the militia, and listen to the fife and drums.
Pretend you are justices, defendants, and witnesses at The Courthouse, and then swing into Chowning's Tavern, one of the most popular places for BBQ, beers, and ales.
Bruton Parish Church was the Anglican church of the capital and is still active today.
Richard Charlton’s Coffeehouse re-creates the 1765 hotbed of political, business and social activity adjacent to the colonial Capitol.
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is reconstructing an industrial site that helped forge the American Revolution. The new buildings, which include the armoury, a kitchen, privy, two storage buildings, and a tinsmith's shop, will be located on the site of the present blacksmith's shop. When complete, Anderson's Blacksmith Shop and Public Armoury will reflect the complexity and urgency of mounting a war effort against the world's most powerful 18th-century nation.
Become a part of our community at war. Meet the townspeople, tradespeople, shopkeepers, political figures, women, and the enslaved that call Williamsburg home—and learn of their hopes, struggles, and fears in these uncertain times. As you explore the challenges of daily life set against the backdrop of revolution, look for the many opportunities to play your role as a citizen of the Revolutionary City.
Experience 1775 and the Beginning of the Revolution
Take part as American colonists make the life-altering choice of whether to remain loyal to the British king or to fight for a free and independent nation. Join an angry mob as they storm the Governor’s Palace to demand the return of the colony’s gunpowder.
Engage in Battle in the Years 1776–1781
Get caught up in the stories of struggle and hardship. Witness the arrival of news of the Declaration of Independence and join the debate over the meaning of “All men are created equal.” Be there as Benedict Arnold occupies the town and imposes martial law on its
Prepare to March to Victory and Independence
Join the troops as they muster to march to Yorktown and prepare for what they are certain will be a victory to guarantee American Independence.
Find Revolutionary Fun for Kids
Young patriots will find many special opportunities to explore and engage with the Revolutionary City and its residents. Go undercover and help save the cause of America with RevQuest: Save the Revolution or join the army and learn about the life of a soldier at the military encampment. Play colonial games at the Benjamin Powell House and get a glimpse of daily life from a child’s perspective.
The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum features an extensive collection of American and British antiques, showcasing furniture, metals, ceramics, glass, painting, prints, firearms, and textiles from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
Young patriots can enjoy hands-on activities and exhibits throughout the year, such as Wee Folk, Map Quest and Crack the Code. Also see the Public Hospital exhibition depicting the treatment of mentally ill patients. Visit the Museum Shop and the Museum Cafe, too.
Under the same roof, you'll find the award-winning Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, the oldest institution in the United States dedicated solely to the collection and preservation of American folk art.
Bassett Hall was the home of John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his wife Abby Aldrich Rockefeller during the restoration of the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area. Tour the house and walk among the gardens and the woodland trails established during the 1940s.
Colonial Williamsburg is an experience that doesn't have to end when you check in for the night. These properties are within walking distance of the Historic Area:
In addition to the Historic Area shops offering period clothing, silver, pottery, foods, and gift items, Merchants Square on Duke of Gloucester Street features more than 40 shops including jewelry, pewter, quilts, quality clothing, restaurants, and a theater.
Plan your authentic Colonial Williamsburg vacation!
Last Updated: 10/01/2015
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