By Brandi M. Seals
Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia is like a city out of time. It is preserved by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, a not-for-profit educational institution established in 1926 that work to preserve and maintain operation of the restored 18th- century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. But it also offers modern conveniences. The Colonial Williamsburg Company is a subsidiary of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and is responsible for the operation of more than 1,000 guest rooms, ten restaurants and 66,000 square feet of conference space in the city.
Colonial Williamsburg got its start after the failure of the first English settlement at Jamestown. Jamestown was settled in 1607 and was set up as the center of the Virginia Colony’s government and commerce. Unfortunately, the swampy land was overrun with insects and these problems eventually drove the settlers to a place called Middle Plantation. It was later moved again five miles inland of Middle Plantation.
The name Middle Plantation did not seem prestigious enough for the center of commerce and government in the new world. So, it was later changed to Williamsburg in honor of William III, King of England.
Williamsburg thrived for years, reaching its height in the middle of the 18th Century. Prior to the American Revolution nearly 2,000 people called the city home. Williamsburg was central to the start of the Revolutionary War and even played a prominent role in the events leading up to the start of the war. However, as the Revolutionary War came to a close, Williamsburg’s days as the center of government came to an end. The governor, Patrick Henry, moved the capitol to Richmond.
As a result, Williamsburg saw a declined. The population dwindled and the only institutions that remained were the College of William and Mary and the public hospital for the insane. The Williamsburg decline lasted through the Civil War, but was finally revived by the arrival of the railroad in 1880.
In the mid 1920’s John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was inspired by the Reverend W.A.R Goodwin of The Bruton Parish Church. He decided to return Williamsburg to its former glory. The Governor’s Palace was reconstructed as was the Raleigh Tavern. Colonial Williamsburg has since become the centerpiece of Virginia’s Historic Triangle comprised of Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown.
Williamsburg celebrated its 300th anniversary in 1999. It was America’s first planned city and now it serves as a theater of living history where merchants sell their products, craftspeople practice their trades and patriots discuss revolution.
Despite being a town that caters to the past, Williamsburg has been known to change. In fact, Colonial Williamsburg opened a new Williamsburg Lodge Conference Center this week
Colonial Williamsburg’s Lodge Conference Center is now open for business. The brand-new conference center has 45,000 square feet of meeting space with 28 rooms that can be used for various functions.
Among the most notable rooms is the Virginia Room which overlooks Colonial Parkway and provides plenty of room. It is a 12,000-square-foot room. And, the one-of-a-kind Governor Jefferson Boardroom is nothing to snivel at. The boardroom is a very unique meeting space. It comes complete with cypress paneling preserved and restored from the original Lodge and Conference Center.
The Williamsburg Lodge Conference Center went under renovation in March of 2004, and the project is due to be 100% complete by the end of this year. When it is finished the Williamsburg Lodge Conference Center will have 323 guest rooms, a lounge and bar, plus a 205-seat restaurant that serves contemporary food that has been influenced by the South and Chesapeake areas.
The original Lodge opened in 1939 to provide accommodations for travelers. It is one of the original Colonial Williamsburg hotels and was constructed under the guidance of John D. Rockefeller Jr.
In addition to the new Lodge, there are various other things to see and do in Colonial Williamsburg. There are guided tours, theme parks, plantations, parks, wineries and much more. If you are planning a trip to Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY for more information on upcoming events and activities for visitors.
Colonial Williamsburg is centrally located east of Richmond and west of Newport News and approximately 150 miles south of Washington D.C.
Colonial Williamsburg is easy to get to. The city is just off of Interstate 64.