November 23, 2004
CW's Peyton Randolph House urban plantation nears completion after four decades
The raising of the framing for the granary walls at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 27 and the storehouse walls at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10 at the historic Peyton Randolph site will bring Colonial Williamsburg several steps closer to completing its vision of re-creating the town’s largest 18th-century domestic complex.
The project, which began in the 1960s, is to help Colonial Williamsburg guests span the centuries when they are introduced to the home, family and extended household of slaves who formed the private and semi-public life of Peyton Randolph in the community of Williamsburg.
Randolph was elected to the House of Burgesses in 1748 to represent Williamsburg. He became speaker of the House of Burgesses in 1766 and later served as the first and second president of the Continental Congress. He died in Philadelphia on Oct. 22, 1775, of an “apoplectic stroke” at the age of 53. On the eve of the Revolution, Randolph, who had no children, left his widow Betty to manage a large urban plantation with 27 slaves.
“The Peyton Randolph restoration project had been an exciting, long-term effort by Colonial Williamsburg’s historic tradespeople to reconstruct numerous missing structures using 18th-century methods and tools,” said Colin G. Campbell, president and chairman at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “Peyton Randolph was a highly respected leader of the day. His estate was among the most extensive in 18th-century Williamsburg, exceeded only by the Governor’s Palace. With the development of the Randolph site comes a new opportunity to portray the entire population of this important property, from members of the Randolph family to the enslaved who lived there.”
The Randolph site, a city showcase for nearly three centuries, has become one of the premier attractions in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area. In 1999-2000 the house, which survives largely intact, was joined to the kitchen and slave quarter via a reproduction of the original covered walkway that served as a conduit for the Randolph’s food, laundry and people to travel. In addition to the granary (used for storing grain and other crops) and new storehouse, a smokehouse, two dairies, a well and another storehouse on their original foundations complete the site’s outbuildings. Guests will experience enhanced hands-on, participatory interpretation at the site as all of the buildings and their furnishings ultimately are intertwined into the living history of this carefully re-created 18th-century urban plantation.
Colonial Williamsburg donors to the Peyton Randolph buildings are:
Lorraine C. Brooks