Spears and Tate Reading Response

Both Mia Stratis Spears’ article about the Greek community in Williamsburg and Thaddeus W. Tate, Jr.’s article about college-town relations speak a lot about the relationship between college students and the town of Williamsburg. I found this interesting because I had no idea how these two articles would go together when I chose to do this set of readings.

Spears’ article obviously focuses more on the Greek community than “town and gown” relationships, however I found the bits about the interchange between college students and Greek establishments in town to be very interesting. College students asked one Greek restaurant owner to move his restaurant further down Duke of Gloucester street just to be nearer to campus. At one Greek restaurant, if students were not able to pay for their meal, they were still fed. The restaurant owner would write down what the students owed him in a black book and asked that they pay him back once they had graduated and found jobs. These warm interchanges between the college community and the Greek community still exist at the Greek owned delis on Richmond Road.

Aside from the relationship between the Greek community and college students, Spears’ article delves into the effect Greek establishments have had on the town throughout the years. The Greek community has been very successful in Williamsburg in terms of its local businesses. Carol Kammen says local history in the United States celebrates the successful businessman, thus this article follows in that tradition of local history. The Greek community is extolled for creating the dining and lodging establishments that would accommodate Williamsburg’s rising number of tourists throughout the twentieth century. Greek establishments also provided employment for college students

Like Spears’ article. Thaddeus Tate’s article also investigates the relationship between a specific community and the town of Williamsburg. Since 1693, William and Mary and Williamsburg have experienced many ups and downs together. I think looking at the “down” times in history is most indicative of what the true relationship between the college and the town is.  It was during hard times for the college that the town really stepped up to take care of the college students. Throughout history, various places in town have become temporary lodging for displaced members of the William and Mary community. As recently as 1983, when Jefferson dorm burned down, the community in Williamsburg really came together to help students out. Money and clothes were given to students, and a hotel was opened up for them to stay in.

While these examples of warmth show the healthy side to the town and gown relationship, Tate does not shy away from recounting tales of tension between the two communities. Carol Kammen says that many local historians try to stray away from uncomfortable bits of history. But Tate is not afraid to speak about the somewhat tense moments throughout the history of the relationship between college and town. I think this is really wonderful because it makes the history so much more dynamic and interesting. It also helps explain some of the origins of tensions that persist to this day between the town and the college. In this way, this local history is really helpful in explaining current events and becomes even more relevant to college students and Williamsburg residents today. All in all, I think both of these articles present very interesting histories of unique communities within Williamsburg.

1 Response to “Spears and Tate Reading Response”

  1. 1 sgglos February 6, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Yes, there is a lot to commend these essays. Nice, thoughtful reflections. Do you think Kammen would view one of these chapters as more typical of local history than the other?

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The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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