• psst … I’m a Realtor! Thanks for stopping by my website. I would love to help you find your dream home and community in the Hampton Roads or Williamsburg area or to sell your existing home. This website is authored by local resident and REALTOR, John Womeldorf. John is known around town as Mr. Williamsburg, for both his extensive knowledge of Hampton Roads and the historic triangle, and his expertise in the local real estate market. His websites, WilliamsburgsRealEstate.com and Mr Williamsburg.com were created as a resource for folks who are exploring a move to Williamsburg, VA , Hampton Roads VA and the surrounding areas of the Virginia Peninsula. On his website you can search homes for sale , foreclosures, 55+ active adult communities, condos and town homes , land and commercial property for sale in Williamsburg, Yorktown, New Kent, Poquoson, and Gloucester, VA as well as surrounding markets of Carrolton, Chesapeake,Gloucester, Hampton, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth Mathews, Newport News Norfolk, Poquoson, Smithfield, , Suffolk, Surry, Va Beach, Yorktown and York County Virginia You can reach John by email John@MrWilliamsburg.com or phone @ 757-254-813

New History Trail Links Museums and Historic Sites from Colonial Williamsburg Through The Northern Neck

Visitors and residents of the southeastern area of Virginia will soon have a road map to lead them from  Colonial Williamsburg and along a rural path that showcases nearly 40  historic sites and museums. Literally

The Tidewater Virginia Historical Society – formerly known as the Colonial Capital Branch of Preservation Virginia – is building a History Museum Trail that starts in Williamsburg and stretches throughout the Middle Peninsula and into the Northern Neck area. It links many of the museums and historic sites along Virginia’s byways, encouraging visitors and residents to experience more of the region’s rich history.

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Physically the trail starts in Williamsburg. For the traveler, though, the trail starts in front of a computer or a smart phone at http://www.tv-hs.org.

The History Museum Trail will feature an interactive web based map that includes information about each museum and historic site located within a short drive of Williamsburg. This trail will include travel directions , and places to lodge and eat along the way.

The first version of the trail’s web map is expected to be available online this summer.

Each museum features unique collections with a local slant on their area’s traditional culture and heritage, as well as how it played into the overall growth of the state and country. Trail visitors will also be able to search and choose to visit museums that feature specific historical topics of interest, including Civil War, African American, maritime and 18th Century Anglican churches.

“The Tidewater Virginia Historical Society’s vision to create a museum trail in the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck is an opportunity to showcase the region and contribute to local economies,” said Virginia Del. Keith Hodges. “Through sales, income and employment, the museum trail positions the area for unprecedented growth.”

The Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula are already destinations for many vacationers utilizing the region’s vast natural resources to boat and play along the Chesapeake Bay’s waters.

“We are very excited by this new opportunity for the museum to expand our base of visitors,” said Middlesex County Museum and Historical Society Board President Marilyn South.

The Middlesex County Museum & Historical Society is located in Saluda, on the Middle Peninsula, and is one of the stops along the trail. This small museum covers more than 400 years of local history, with expanded exhibits featuring fossils and Indian artifacts, 19th Century textiles and clothing, a 1930s country store, agricultural and industrial tools, historical money, toys and medical instruments. The Middlesex museum also contains tales of its most famous local resident, Lt. Gen. "Chesty" Puller, the most decorated Marine in U.S. Marine Corps history.

“It is only natural that we highlight the many historical gems that lie waiting to be uncovered,” Hodges said. “The economic growth, both direct and indirect will greatly impact our region with very little capital outlay. The vision of these of these dedicated volunteers will create a natural road map to enable visitors to navigate our beautiful and historic peninsulas."

In addition to the History Museum Trail, the Tidewater Virginia Historical Society is planning a public archaeology project, where the community will be invited to dig with the archaeologists. Thanks to a partnership with the Fairfield Foundation on the Middle Peninsula and York County, a new archaeological dig will kick off to explore a former Carter’s Grove slave quarter in New Quarter Park. Details about the project and how the public will be able to participate will be available at a later date.

Learn more about the Tidewater Virginia Historical Society at http://www.tv-hs.org

Toano-Burnt Ordinary Virginia–Center of commerce and industry

imageBY FREDERICK BOELT- James City County Historical Commission

The Friends of Forge Road and Toano (FORT) have recently produced another pamphlet about that area of the County. There is documented evidence that there was an ordinary (which is a tavern or eating house) and a general store located at the cross-roads of the Stage Road (Route 60) and Old Forge Road as early as 1760. This area gradually grew to be a regular stop on the stage route, and a trade center for this part of the County. With the coming of the railroad in 1881, truck farming came into its own with transportation to distant markets becoming readily available. By the early twentieth century, the village of Toano had become a thriving center of commerce and industry, offering support for the necessities of this farming venture.

A copy of the pamphlet has been added to the Historical Commission’s website. Read about how the name of the village was changed from Burnt Ordinary to Toano. In the early 1900s, Toano had general stores, hotels, offices for doctors and lawyers, two banks, a drugstore, and even a weekly newspaper. There were saw mills and a brick yard in the surrounding area, and soon, canning and barrel factories began operation to accommodate the farmers’ needs. In 1908, Toano High School opened as the premier educational facility of a three county area.

Unfortunately, after World War II, the area began to fall from its “glory days.” The high school was closed, and the widening of Route 60 in the 1960s removed almost all of the businesses on the west side of the road. The Wedgewood Dinner Theater kept the cultural community going for a while longer, but finally moved to Hampton. Late in the twentieth century, there was a bit of a revival for the area with the development of commerce and industrial parks. Early in the twenty first century, a Community Character Area Study and Guidelines were adopted by the Board of Supervisors with the hope of a structured enhancement of this area. Learn more about Toano over the last several centuries by visiting the Historical Commission’s website.

Download the full Toano/ Burnt Ordinary history brochure here

Annual open house today at Historic Greensprings Plantation

Once a year, the National Park Service and the Friends of Green Spring provide an opportunity for the public to tour the site of Historic Green Spring Plantation, the 17th century home of Colonial Virginia’s Governor Sir William Berkeley and his controversial wife, Lady Frances Berkeley. Actors portraying Lord and Lady Berkeley will welcome guests as staff from the National Park Service tell the story of the people, the battles, the events that are part of this great plantation. Please park at Jamestown High School and take free bus transportation to the site. Those who attend will have the chance to interact with actors playing the characters of Governor Sir William Berkeley and his wife, Lady Frances Berkeley. The roles are played by local performer Joe Dellinger and College of William & Mary actress Zoe Speas. Dellinger has portrayed the controversial colonial governor for the last three years. He’s a familiar face to audiences, having performed roles at various local venues including Virginia Shakespeare Festival, Wedgewood Renaissance, and Williamsburg Players. This year’s Tour is today Saturday, October 13, 2012, from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 pm green spring plantation Historic Green Spring (please park at Jamestown Island Visitor Center) Admission is free and parking is available at the Jamestown Island Visitors Center. Free shuttle buses will take visitors to the Historic Green Spring site. There is no parking at the site. There will be no rain date for the annual tour.

For more information, call 757-880-4187.

WHAT IS GREEN SPRING AND WHO ARE THE FRIENDS? The Historic Green Spring plantation site–a part of Colonial National Park, which includes both Jamestown and Yorktown–looks today like an undeveloped tract of forests and fields. But appearances are deceiving: from the time of Jamestown through the Civil War the people of Green Spring have played a central role in Virginia’s history. Location map of the Historic Green Spring plantation site image Today there is only one 19th century building standing on land that once was part of a vast plantation belonging to the most influential English governor of the Virginia colony, Sir William Berkeley. Hidden under the ground are the remains of two magnificent 17th century mansions built by Sir William, an orangery, slave quarters, a pottery, an 18th century plantation house belonging to the Ludwell and Lee families, and many things yet to be discovered.

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Archaeologists discover brick foundations near Wren Building @ W&M

Building likely associated with slaves.

A set of undocumented brick building foundations—“a little island of preservation” hidden for centuries beneath William & Mary’s Historic Campus—will provide a glimpse back into the College’s time-shrouded early years.

“It is wonderful that our colonial campus, about which so much is known, still can surprise us after all these centuries,” said Louise Kale, director of William & Mary’s Historic Campus.

College archaeologists say the partially unearthed foundation looks to be the remains of “a fairly massive outbuilding,” a structure that was almost certainly associated with slaves who worked at William & Mary in the early 18th century. The foundation runs 20 feet east-west and more than 16 feet north-south. The remains extend underneath a sidewalk south of the Wren Building. Their discovery prompted postponement of scheduled repairs to the sidewalk.

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Bricks and mortar: Archaeologists believe these bricks to be part of the foundation of a previously undiscovered 18th century outbuilding on the William & Mary’s historic campus.

Photo by Stephen Salpukas

The precise location of the foundation has been recorded and the areas exposed for examination have been filled in. The site will remain preserved under nearly two feet of earth. The College is already making plans for a complete archaeological excavation of the site.

“The discovery of these foundations is too important to rush the process,” Kale explained. “We need some time to put together a partnership of all the necessary scholars to interpret this site. When we do this project, it’s important that we do it thoughtfully and that we do it right.”

She said that such an archaeological dig calls for a large amount of preliminary research, including a review of all relevant documents and papers. Kale added that the College will also need time to raise the necessary funding for the project and also make sure there is an opportunity for students to be involved in the work.

Read more here

Williamsburg, Yorktown, A Revolutionary Trip

Revolution

The delegates of the 5th Virginia Convention, meeting in Williamsburg, Wednesday, May 15, 1776, agreed unanimously to instruct Virginia’s representatives at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia to propose that the colonies declare themselves free and independent states absolved from all allegiance to, or dependence upon, the crown or parliament of Great Britain. Seven weeks later, the Declaration of Independence proclaimed why the colonies had chosen independence. In Williamsburg, the Convention’s delegates drafted a declaration of rights and a constitution for Virginia, creating a society in which the people, not the monarch, were sovereign.

The Revolution had to be won on the battlefield, however. War had broken out a year earlier with skirmishes between British troops and Massachusetts militia at Lexington and Concord. It would continue for six years before the decisive battle of Yorktown. There, in October 1781, American and French troops led by George Washington defeated a British army commanded by General Charles Lord Cornwallis.

Don’t Miss

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    Yorktown Victory Center

    This museum of the American Revolution chronicles America’s struggle for independence from the beginnings of colonial unrest to the formation of the nation. A new Declaration of Independence Gallery emphasizes the dramatic impact and relevance of this historic document. Exhibits also provide eyewitness accounts of the war and describe the convergence of forces in October 1781 at the Siege of Yorktown. “The Legacy of Yorktown: Virginia Beckons” exhibit examines how people from different cultures shaped a society and incorporates the theme of creating a national government with the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Outdoors, historical interpreters engage visitors in demonstrations of everyday life during the Revolutionary era, in re-creations of a Continental Army encampment, and 1780s Tidewater Virginia farm.

    Visit: http://www.historyisfun.org

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    Colonial Williamsburg

    Each day, the Historic Area features Revolutionary City, a dynamic two-hour event during which guests witness – and participate in – the “Collapse of the Royal Government, 1774-1776,” and the struggles of “Citizens at War, 1776-1781.” Other sites of importance during the Revolution include the Palace, where the last royal governor Lord Dunmore resided, the Magazine, from which British marines stole the colony’s powder in April 1775 fueling a crisis that led to war, and the Capitol, where the General Assembly passed the crucial legislation that created the state of Virginia.

    Visit: http://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com

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    Yorktown Battlefield

    When Prime Minister Frederick Lord North learned that Cornwallis had surrendered to Washington, he reputedly said, “Oh God, it’s all over.” It was. Guests can tour siege lines and fortifications, witness artillery demonstrations, and step into Washington’s tent.

    Visit: http://www.nps.gov/yonb/

Williamsburg Virginia History

Williamsburg, Virginia was originally named Middle Plantation, an area of high ground about halfway between the James and York rivers. The area was garrisoned and fortified in 1633. Bruton Parish Church was established there in 1674 when two older parishes merged.

King William and Queen Mary granted a royal charter to the College of William and Mary in 1693, making it the second oldest college – Harvard is first – in the United States.

Six years later, the General Assembly met at Middle Plantation to pick a new capital, and five college students lobbied to locate the new statehouse there, replacing the one that had burned at Jamestown.

One student said Middle Plantation already had “a church, an ordinary, several stores, two mills, a smiths shop, a grammar school, and above all the Colledge.” Another said the town was ideally located “for making a healthy, pleasant strong and wealthy city.”

The burgesses voted to build the new statehouse “somewhere at Middle Plantation, nigh H.M. College of William and Mary.” Because the town would be the capital, it was chartered as a city and renamed Williamsburg in honor of the king.

Royal Governor Francis Nicholson laid out Williamsburg as he had successfully laid out Annapolis when he was governor of Maryland, making them the first two planned cities. The main street, Duke of Gloucester, 99-feet wide, runs about a mile, anchored at the west end by William and Mary and at the east by the Capitol. Halfway between was Market Square, the town common of its day, where the Magazine and Court House are now. Near the center of town, the reminders of the crown’s dominion stood – the royal Governor’s Palace and Bruton Parish, local home of the official Anglican church.

The 1710-11 General Assembly passed an act “to prevent hogs rooting within the City of Williamsburg and certain places adjacent.”

After the city incorporated in 1722, a local observer wrote that Williamsburg is “a market town… and is with rich stores, all sorts of goods, and well furnished with the best provisions and liquors.”

With the college and the Capitol, Williamsburg attracted the best of Virginia’s philosophers and politicians, and Virginia, the largest, most populous, most successful colony, had them.

Unlike the settlement at Jamestown or the siege at Yorktown, what occurred in Williamsburg during this period was not an event, but a mental and political evolution, an idea of freedom. That the idea grew while Africans were enslaved is an inexplicable irony.

Almost nothing that King George III or his parliament did in the latter half of the 18th century found favor in the American colonies, especially not with the intellectuals who were concentrated in Virginia, principally at Williamsburg.

People such as George Mason, George Wythe, George Washington, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison were all in Williamsburg at one time or another. Other men whose names are, rightly or wrongly, less well known drove the revolution forward; Peyton Randolph, who the Williamsburg Militia called “the Father of His Country,” and Richard Henry Lee, who moved in Congress that the colonies “were, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.”

It wasn’t only their words, it was their personalities, their work, their wealth, and most of all, their ideas.

That is not to say that other people in other places did not contribute – Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia, John Adams in Massachusetts, Alexander Hamilton in New York – but they did not contribute in such numbers.

Thomas Jefferson in the Summary View of the Rights of British America questions the King’s right to control land and Parliament’s right to control anything in the American colonies.

Only Common Sense, the 46-page pamphlet written by Thomas Paine, is better known than the writings of Virginians. George Mason’s Declaration of Rights was copied by eight of the 13 colonies and, in part, by the U.S. Bill of Rights. He called for freedom of speech, and of the press, and of religion. James Madison helped to write the U.S. Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and the Virginia Resolutions. And, of course, Jefferson wrote the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom and the Declaration of Independence.

When the war threatened Virginia in 1780, Jefferson, then governor, favored moving the capital to Richmond, a greater distance inland. And there it remains today.

The battles of the Revolutionary War are better remembered, but it was the words of the patriots that led to the war. In the end, it was their ideas of individual rights and responsibilities that were the Revolution.