Colonial Williamsburg

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Restoration

The Restoration of Williamsburg owed much to W.A.R. Goodwin. He first conceived of the restoration while pastor of Bruton Parish from 1903 to 1909. After spending some years in New York, he returned to Williamsburg in 1923. A year later, he joined lawyer Channing Hall and William and Mary professor William Shewmake in establishing a company to begin acquiring buildings.

With limited funds, the trio’s efforts got off to a slow start. Given the size of their ambitions, Goodwin realized it would take very deep pockets indeed. He tried to persuade President Julian Chandler that the College should take over the effort, but Chandler declined. After Henry Ford also said no, Goodwin turned to John D. Rockefeller, Jr. For several years, he wooed Rockefeller, who secretly agreed in late 1926 to fund the purchase of the Ludwell-Paradise House. As Goodwin bought more lots and buildings, people noticed. Speculation ran wild about who was backing him. Finally, at a June 1928 meeting of Williamsburg’s white population, Goodwin revealed the identity of his secret backer. The meeting overwhelmingly voted to sell large parts of the town to Rockefeller’s organization.

The Restoration transformed Williamsburg. In addition to preserving some buildings and rebuilding others, Rockefeller’s workers demolished more than 400 buildings in the center of town. Hundreds of families had to move, and new suburbs and developments popped up. Most of the churches, except Bruton Parish, also moved to new facilities outside the restored area, as did Eastern State Hospital. The Matthew Whaley School replaced the Williamsburg High School in 1930. African Americans had to wait until 1940 for the Bruton Heights School to replace the James City County Training School.

The Restoration had its critics. The song, “My God, they’ve sold the town” expressed the sentiments of many who felt that their hometown had ceased to exist. And some residents, white and black, resented being forced to move, especially to what many considered inferior homes built by the Restoration for them. One Restoration official acknowledged deliberately building homes for African Americans that were small by the standards of the day. Ironically, the Restoration also increased residential segregation in Williamsburg. Whites and blacks had lived in mixed neighborhoods, but the Restoration tended to funnel the different races into different neighborhoods.

The Restoration proved a boon to Williamsburg during the Great Depression, as John Rockefeller poured money into the project and hired hundreds of residents. By the 1930s, the city of Williamsburg, which had gradually embraced progress in the late 1800s, had tied its future firmly to its past.[1]

African Americans

Sources

  • Searching "Colonial Williamsburg" and "African Americans" in the library's online catalog (6/2009):
    • LD6051 .W5m Amer.St., 2003, H63, Hodapp, Daniel Frederick. The Albert Durant collection : African American life in the 1940s and 1940s in Williamsburg, Virginia, 1 copy available at Swem Library in Archives
    • E184.65 .K78 2003, Krutko, Erin. Colonial Williamsburg's slave auction re-enactment : controversy, African American history and public memory, 3 copies available at Swem Library and CW Rockefeller
    • LD6051 .W5m Amer.St., 1999, C37, Carroll, Nicole. African American history at Colonial Williamsburg. 2 copies available at Swem Library
    • E184.65 .P65 1999a, Pollard, Cherise Ann. "They can burn all the papers but they can't burn conscious" : the problematics of historical experience in African-American culture. 1 copy available at CW Rockefeller in Stacks
    • AM7 .T48 1996, Macdonald, Sharon. Theorizing museums : representing identity and diversity in a changing world. 1 copy available at CW Rockefeller in Stacks
    • E184.65 .L38 1995a, Lawson, Anna Logan. "The other half" : making African-American history at Colonial Williamsburg. 1 copy available at CW Rockefeller in Stacks
    • F234 .W7 F67 1993a, Foster, Andrea. "They're turning the town all upside down" : the community identity of Williamsburg, Virginia before and after the Reconstruction. 1 copy available at CW Rockefeller in Stacks
    • E443 .K37 1993, Katz-Hyman, Martha B. "In the middle of this poverty some cups and a teapot:" the material culture of slavery in eighteenth-century Virginia and the furnishing of slave quarters at Colonial Williamsburg. 4 copies available at CW Rockefeller
    • F234 .W7 F67 1993a, Foster, Andrea Kim. "They're turning the town all upside down" : the community identity of Williamsburg, Virginia before and after the Reconstruction. 1 copy available at Swem Library in Rare Book-Virginia
    • LD6051 .W5m Educ., 1989, E45, Ellis, Rex M. Presenting the past : education, interpretation and the teaching of Black history at Colonial Williamsburg. 2 copies available at Swem Library


Material in the Special Collections Research Center

  • LD6051 .W5m Amer.St., 2003, H63, Hodapp, Daniel Frederick. The Albert Durant collection : African American life in the 1940s and 1940s in Williamsburg, Virginia, 1 copy available at Swem Library in Archives
  • E184.65 .K78 2003, Krutko, Erin. Colonial Williamsburg's slave auction re-enactment : controversy, African American history and public memory, 3 copies available at Swem Library and CW Rockefeller
  • LD6051 .W5m Amer.St., 1999, C37, Carroll, Nicole. African American history at Colonial Williamsburg. 2 copies available at Swem Library
  • F234 .W7 F67 1993a, Foster, Andrea Kim. "They're turning the town all upside down" : the community identity of Williamsburg, Virginia before and after the Reconstruction. 1 copy available at Swem Library in Rare Book-Virginia

References

External Links

Need help?

To search for further material, visit the Special Collections Research Center's Search Tool List for an overview of the Special Collections Database, W&M Digital Archive, Flat Hat-William & Mary News-Alumni Gazette index, card catalogs, and other tools available to help you find material of interest in the Swem Library's Special Collections Research Center.

Questions? Contact the Special Collections Research Center at spcoll@wm.edu or 757-221-3090, or visit the Special Collections Research Center in the Earl Gregg Swem Library at the College of William and Mary.

A Note About The Contents Of This Wiki
The information available in this wiki is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of the College of William and Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information available here is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Information in this wiki is not complete as new information continues to be uncovered in the Swem Library's Special Collections Research Center and elsewhere. Researchers are strongly encouraged to use the Special Collections search tools for their research as the information contained in this wiki is by no means comprehensive.