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August 15, 2003

Great Hopes Plantation Provides a New Venue for Colonial Williamsburg's African-American Programs

Colonial Williamsburg’s guests now have a new venue as they cross the Bridge to the Past from the Visitor Center to the Historic Area. Great Hopes Plantation is an activity-based interpretive site that invites guests to witness a lifestyle that would have been routine in 18th-century Virginia. Here guests watch the re-creation and evolution of an 18th-century plantation, learn about enslaved African-Virginians and their masters, and learn how they lived and worked on a typical middle-sized rural Virginia farm.

In the coming months, site structures will include a tobacco barn, a middling planter’s kitchen and a slave cabin. Fences, gardens, livestock and chickens as well as the tobacco and corn now planted will complement the buildings.

The new Great Hopes Plantation is one of two significant sites at Colonial Williamsburg where guests can immerse themselves in the 18th-century African-Virginian experience. While Great Hopes focuses on the rural life, the Peyton Randolph House site in the middle of the Historic Area highlights the urban life of African-Americans.

Colonial Williamsburg’s African-American programs include:

  • “The Other Half Tour.” A walking tour that explores the development of slavery in colonial Virginia and the lives of the “other half.”
  • “Gowan Pamphlet: God Is My Rock.” A popular African-Virginian preacher offers his perspective on slavery, religion and freedom.
  • “Remember Me When Freedom Comes.” Through spirituals, work songs and a Saturday night gathering, the enslaved community brings to life the memories of a slave named Paris.
  • “White Goes First.” Thomas Jefferson plays chess with Jupiter, his slave. Explore the master and slave relationship in a dramatic way.
  • “Papa Said, Mama Said.” Eighteenth-century free and enslaved African-Virginians discuss the lessons learned through the stories told by their elders.
  • “Soul of a Sharecropper.” The abolition of slavery following the Civil War presented an opportunity for some, but new challenges for most. Meet a former slave and hear tales of hope and despair.
  • “Jumpin’ The Broom.” A young enslaved couple forms a marriage union in spite of the uncertainty of marriage.

    Known worldwide as the nation’s largest living history museum, Colonial Williamsburg recently was recognized as the “Best Historic Site” by readers of Southern Living magazine for the seventh straight year. Colonial Williamsburg is conveniently located 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information or reservations, call toll-free (800) HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg on the Internet at

    Media Contact:
    Lorraine C. Brooks
    (757) 220-7280

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