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March 22, 2010

CW's Costume Design Center opens its doors for behind-the-scenes tours

Colonial Williamsburg’s Costume Design Center opens its door for behind-the-scenes tours at 3:30 p.m. on Thursdays, March 25 through June 10. Guests can meet staff members and explore the building where most of Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area costumes are designed and maintained.

For more than 75 years the Costume Design Center has outfitted Historic Area staff, including orientation interpreters, group services, site interpreters, both public and domestic, military programs, Fifes and Drums, coach and livestock, Historic Trades (with the exception of the milliners and tailors who make their own), Revolutionary City and theatrical interpretation. In addition, they make costumes for employees in Electronic Field Trips, African American interpretive group, Historic Area stores and products staff, as well as tavern interpreters and staff at the Raleigh Tavern Bakery.

The dedication of Duke of Gloucester Street on Oct. 20, 1934, ushered in the tradition of costume design to Colonial Williamsburg. The ceremony brought President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Historic Area, where he was greeted by hostesses dressed in colonial costumes for the first time.

The Costume Design Center is located at 250 First St., Williamsburg. Tours are free with any Historic Area admission pass or Good Neighbor pass. Reservations are required and can be made at any Colonial Williamsburg ticket outlet or by calling 1-800-HISTORY.

Costume Design Center staff also offer programs that delve into the reproduction of historic costumes.

  • Discover and re-create elegant embellishments during Fly Fringe – Decorative Gown Trims of the 18th Century. Participants will produce a small length of reproduction trim while learning the basic techniques used to create the elements of these popular trimmings. A kit will be included in the cost of the program and the ability to crochet and tie small intricate knots is helpful but not necessary. 9 a.m. Saturday, April 17 at Bruton Heights School. Cost: $60.
  • Learn various techniques used to cover and decorate an 18th-century-style straw hat during Straw Hat Trims and Embellishments. Students will cover a straw hat with silk and create flower and ribbon trims to complete the decoration. The kit includes 18th-century style-straw hat, ribbon, silk and all materials needed for creating trims. Students may bring their own needles, scissors and thimbles. Basic knowledge and experience of hand-sewing techniques is a plus. 9 a.m. Saturday, May 15 at Bruton Heights School. Cost: $75.

    Reservations are required and can be made at any Colonial Williamsburg ticket office or by calling 1-800-HISTORY. Strollers cannot be accommodated.

    The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City© program. Explore The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and discover rare treasures and storied objects throughout the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum featuring British and American decorative arts from 1670 – 1830 and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, comprising more than 5,000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Colonial Williamsburg Hotels feature conference spaces and recreation activities from spa and fine dining to world-class golf. Colonial Williamsburg is committed to expanding its thought-provoking programming through education outreach on-site and online. Purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the preservation, research and educational programs of the Foundation.

    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. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121

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