Taylor and Brown & DeSamper Response

Thomas Taylor’s “The Restoration of Williamsburg” mainly discusses the earliest restoration projects in Williamsburg, arguing that preservation to some extent was active in Williamsburg long before the radical whole town restoration by Goodwin and Rockefeller. The historic city had valued its still standing colonial structures despite allowing many to disappear and be neglected. The AVPA had been repairing and praising the historic powder magazine since 1896. The article then goes into the two year secret buy out of Williamsburg historic locations by Rockefeller as to hold off real estate speculation. Next the expansive and expensive restoration is described in detail. Hundreds of workers, scholars, and architects were needed for the effort. The article does not comment much upon the Depression of the 1930s but hints at the townspeople’s nervousness that Rockefeller might not finish the job because of monetary constraints. The article states that unemployment was thwarted by the continuing construction projects, but does provide great detail on the status of the city of Williamsburg apart from the reconstruction during this difficult time period.

Brown & DeSamper’s article “A Household Name: Colonial Williamsburg in the Second Half of the Twentieth Century” picks up where Taylor’s article leaves off. The article discusses the changes in popularity as well as content of Colonial Williamsburg after World War II. They argue that Colonial Williamsburg retained its popularity because it changed with the times from praising solely great American political and revolutionary figures to telling the lives of common Williamsburg residents during the 18th century. The article mentions the acceptance of African American interpreters and workers at Colonial Williamsburg but does not go into detail about the tensions, racisms, and civil rights issues of the time. The article also mentions the addition of girls into the fife and drum corps but does not comment on why or how this change occurred. Mainly, Brown & DeSamper focus on the rising popularity of Colonial Williamsburg both to millions of visitors in the years around the bicentenial and international political and royal figures. The growth of Colonial Williamsburg in terms of the size of the historic area and amount of buildings is addressed in detail but business decisions such as entrance fees are not discussed.

1 Response to “Taylor and Brown & DeSamper Response”

  1. 1 sgglos February 6, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Wmbg’s 20th-century history is inextricably linked to the history of CW. How well do you feel these local history essays do in representing the “local” when what they are really talking about is a massive institution? Nice critical synopsis.

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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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