Upon arriving in Williamsburg, we visited to Visitor?s Center to get our bearings and to purchase two Freedom Passes. A Freedom Pass provides admission to the tours, museums, and buses for a year. At just under $60 a piece, they were a great deal. Before leaving, we saw the movie “The Story of a Patriot”. While very old it gave us a great feel for the conflict some felt over the decision to revolt against England.
For the first of our two trips into town, we took the bus to the Capitol, on the far end of Duke of Gloucester Street. First we took a tour of Bassett Hall, former residence of the Rockerfellers. The Rockerfeller family played a huge role in getting Williamsburg restored, and they donated their home in the 1980s to the town. This stop was mostly for Richelle, I gotta admit, but I was surprised at how intimate the place felt. Comfy. The tour guide made sure to tell us how this was the Rockerfellers favorite house. Here they could be like normal folk. Talking to neighbors and walking to church.
Next stop was the gunsmith where there were craftsmen making weaponry as they would two hundred years ago.
A short walk from there was the Capitol. The building?s architecture was specifically designed to accommodate the Royal (the Governor?s Council), and the people?s (the House of Burgesses) branches of government, with a meeting area, between them. When that relationship broke down, when Boston was being threatened, it is here that Patrick Henry (“give me liberty or give me death”), Thomas Jefferson, and others were moved to encourage all to the fight. Did you know that if you were a Catholic, or a Jew, a Black or Woman, you couldn?t serve in the House of Burgesses? In fact, you had to be a White, Protestant, land owner.
Our last historic stop of the day was the Public Gaol – the jail. We learned how jailers lived and had a chance to see a few cells.
For a late lunch we hit Shields tavern. For under $50 we had a very romantic, and filling lunch. The pot roast was great. I mean great!
We finished off our day seeing the Fife and Drums team do a demonstration and then a march down The Palace Green. A big highlight for me. They were powerful. As they marched, I couldn?t help but feel a strange sense of history as everyone in attendance instinctively followed behind them.