January 16, 2009
CW Historic Trades Shops illustrate the products and services offered in 18th-century Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Trades program gives insight into the colonial workplace. During the winter season, programs highlight the skills of Colonial Williamsburg’s artisans.
Special programs include:Printing Office: All the News and Then Some, Printing Office, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Mondays and Fridays, through March 13. The printer issued the weekly Virginia Gazette, along with a number of other jobs. See the printers as they produce all the news and then some.
Bindery—For the Love of Books, Bindery, 1 to 4:30 p.m., Mondays and Sundays, through March 15. A visit to the bindery offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of fine books for all purposes.
Silversmith: Talent, Taste and Design, Silversmith Shop, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturdays and Mondays, through Feb. 28. The 18th-century silversmith was thought of as someone akin to a sculptor. Both had to know how to shape materials with artistic talent, taste and design.
Tailors: A World of Fashion, Margaret Hunter Shop (Milliner), 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Mondays, through March 9. The tailors are at work on a surprisingly broad variety of garments for an equally broad variety of customers. Discover the fashions and fashioning of gentlemen’s suits, ladies’ brunswicks, children’s stays and slaves’ livery, among many others.
Basketmaking: A Family Affair, Wythe property, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesdays, through March 10. Woven white oak baskets were as useful to colonial Virginians as they were simple, beautiful and strong. Basketmaking was a domestic activity rather than a business as families needed baskets of all sizes and shapes for personal family use, and most families made their own basked, which lasted for years. Both men and women made baskets and taught the children as soon as they were old enough to learn.
Blacksmith—Going at it Hammer and Tongs, Anderson Blacksmith Shop, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Sundays, through March 15. With forge and anvil, hammer and tongs, blacksmiths make agricultural tools for farmers and iron rims for wheelwrights. They repair many iron objects used by Williamsburg residents. Their skills with vise and file serve customers as diverse as the miller, saddler, coachmaker and planter.
Cooper: Casks, Barrels, Buckets and Pails, Cooper Shop , 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wednesdays, through March 11. The art of coopering dates back centuries and the basic trade has remained unchanged. Today the coopering trade is alive and well, and the results of the coopers’ work can be seen throughout the Historic Area.
Geddy Foundry – Crucible of Fire, James Geddy Foundry, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Wednesdays, through March 11. The founder requires a strong constitution and a robust body to undergo the heat of the fire. Visit the Geddy Foundry to see, hear and feel the heat, dirt and hard work that always have been realities of the founder’s trade. You’ll likely discover the process worth the product.
Wigmaker: A Head for Fashion, King’s Arms Barber Shop (Wigmaker), 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursdays, through March 12. Dressing fashionably in the 18th century meant looking good from the head down. The precise head dress was as important as any other article of clothing.
Cabinetmaker – Fine Furniture: Plain and Neat, Hay’s Cabinetmaking Shop, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Fridays, through March 13. Virginians preferred “plain but neat” furniture, modestly elegant and neatly constructed. Ornamentation on furniture was used to emphasize the stature of a person or the importance of the social occasion for which the piece was used. Visit the Cabinetmaker’s Shop to discover the tools, skills and knowledge of the cabinetmaker’s trade.
Shoemaker: Boots and Shoes for Gentlemen, Shoemaker’s Shop, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Fridays, through March 13. One of the two or three largest trades practiced in 18th-century Williamsburg, historical shoemaking is being rediscovered and preserved through the apprenticeship program at the Shoemaker’s Shop.
Mantua-Makers and Milliners: A World of Fashion, Margaret Hunter Shop (Milliner), 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturdays, through March 14. Want a new gown or petticoat? Or should you have an old sacque remade or just re-trimmed? Or how about a new cardinal in this season’s style? Are the children outgrowing their clothes? Or does the gentleman need a new wrapping gown? Visit the Margaret Millinery Shop and plan your new wardrobe for the coming year. Consult with the milliner who will create your fashion accessories and who has filled her shelves with fine imported fashion and household items. Then engage the Mantua-maker to make your new gowns.
Weaver: Coverlets and Conversation, Wythe property, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturdays, through March 14. The weaver warps his loom and sets to work on goods both useful and beautiful.
Apothecary—Good for What Ails You, Galt Apothecary, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sundays, through March 15. Visit the Apothecary to discover what medicine is offered to the 18th-century ailing citizen.
Governor’s Palace Kitchen: The Finest Foods for the Pinnacle of Society, Governor’s Palace Kitchen, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesdays, Jan. 27-March 10. Meals at the Governor’s Palace served those at the pinnacle of social standing. The governor was able to provide his cooks with the best-equipped kitchen in the colony. The cuisine offered at the Palace reflects the French influence popular among upper class English society.
Wheelwright: No Matter Their Use – Round Above All Else, Wheelwright Shop, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursdays, Jan. 29-March 12. Producing wheels requires strength, ingenuity and the talents of both a carpenter and a blacksmith. Precise measuring skills are mandatory. See and hear about the shop’s latest vehicles to hit the streets.
Colonial Williamsburg's Historic Trades program traces its beginnings to 1936. Since that time, it has evolved to become the largest and most diverse museum-operated trades program in the world and also one of the most historically accurate, with a strong emphasis on both hands-on and documentary research.
A Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket or Good Neighbor pass is needed to enjoy these programs.
Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution guests interact with history through “Revolutionary City®” – a dramatic live street theater presentation.
Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at www.history.org.