Archive for the 'Reflections on Local History Essays' Category

Spears and Tate Reflections

I found Mia Stratis Spears’ account of the prominent role of the Greek community in Williamsburg both fascinating and surprising. Williamsburg is arguably one of the most “American” towns in the United States because of its history. Spears challenges that notion by placing the small, but influential, Greek community in the forefront of the city’s twentieth-century economic and social development.

She begins her article, entitled “Perseverance, Preservation, and Prosperity: The Greek Community of Williamsburg,” by describing the first Greek immigrants as disciplined and determined. Two of the most notable early Greek immigrants to Williamsburg were Angelo and Nick Costas. Together, they set the tone for Greek prosperity in Williamsburg through the development of restaurants and other social hubs that were student-friendly. With the development of the historical part of Colonial Williamsburg, the Greek leaders in the town expanded their hospitality to tourists.

Spears also highlights the Greek community’s dedication to the city’s permanent residences, as well as its students and tourists. Through financial donations to community institutions such as hospitals and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, wealthy Greek residents asserted their commitment to Williamsburg. One individual, George Genakos contributed politically as a member of the City Council. Yet, despite these declarations of allegiance to Williamsburg, the Greek community continued to identify with their cultural roots. They accomplished this through participation in the local chapter of the American Hellenic Education Progressive Association, AHEPA.

The Greek community positively contributed to town-gown relations through the development of inexpensive eateries for William and Mary students. Many of these are still around today – including the College Delly.

Thaddeus W. Tate, Jr.’s article on town-gown relations between Williamsburg and William and Mary begins with the royal charter in 1693, well before the arrival of Greek immigrants. In general, Tate tells a fairly positive story of the interactions between the College and the town. He describes the relationship as generally harmonious, which I believe has become less true due to the influence of Colonial Williamsburg as a profitable tourist destination. In my view, William and Mary’s town-gown relations have evolved to a town-gown-Foundation model. In my observance of local politics, the residents often side with the “tame and quiet” CW Foundation rather than the “rowdy and progressive” university. This creates a unique relationship that I do not believe any other colleges face.

While reading this piece, I compared the town-gown relations of William and Mary and Williamsburg to other universities and their host city. At UVA, for example, I have heard and witnessed that the city of Charlottesville relies on the university for a source of jobs, cultural enlightenment, and consumers (in the form of students). That is not the case in Williamsburg because of the tourist population, which, I would assume, is generally more economically profitable.

Tate’s account of town-gown relations takes readers through a turbulent past of financial uncertainty, multiple wars, and debates on the role of education in the town. What I did not realize is that the William and Mary I know today – a medium-sized university with approximately 6,000 undergraduates and 2,000 graduate students – is nothing like the William and Mary of years past. In fact, Tate often describes the College as a tiny liberal arts college with small faculties – often in the single digits – and around 100 to 125 students. It was not until after World War II that William and Mary emerged as a larger institution with familiar traditions such as the Yule Log and Charter Day ceremonies. More students in graduate and undergraduate programs meant more classrooms, dormitories, and student centers. Tate states that as a result of the new, larger university, town-gown relations changed. He specifically points to traffic and parking concerns as well as the value greater community engagement on behalf of the students. However, he asserts, until the end of the article, that the relationship between William and Mary and Williamsburg should always be mutually beneficial. This class is a perfect example of that mentality. We, as students at the College, have the time, resources, and incentives to produce an archive that is useful for the city.


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.

Taylor, Brown and DeSamper Reading Reflections

The reading assignments from this week, particularly the articles I was assigned to read, fit perfectly with the assignment also due: to explore a place I have never been before.  Thomas H. Taylor, Jr.’s “The Restoration of Williamsburg” and Peter A.G. Brown’s and Hugh DeSamper’s  “A Household Name: Colonial Williamsburg in the Second Half of the Twentieth Century” gave me the opportunity to learn about the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg.  As a second semester senior, it is almost embarrassing that I am just starting to learn the details of the restoration.

Thomas H. Taylor, Jr. describes the process of restoring the colonial area and creating the institution known as “Colonial Williamsburg”: the union of the Williamsburg Holding Corporation which was responsible for business, and Colonial Williamsburg Inc., the educational branch of the institution.   While most people familiar with Williamsburg know John D. Rockefeller funded the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg and did have an integral role in restoring Colonial Williamsburg with painstaking detail, the names of other important people who made the restoration possible are not as widely known. One, arguably the most influential, was Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin who oversaw the daily operations.  He was responsible for acquiring “not only property for restoration, but also the blocks between the college and the palace green in order to create a commercial zone” (Taylor 182).  This was fascinating to me.  Throughout the article, I was continually struck by the shrewd business moves behind every decision.  The planners bought parcels of land surrounding the foundation of the old Capital they planned to rebuild to ensure no other structures would block its views.  They also purchased land to eventually build an Inn.  Every decision seemed to relate back to how to bring the most visitors and capitalize on the newly found tourism industry, while also providing the most realistic portrayal of life in Colonial Williamsburg (they did extensive research: excavating sites, going through old court records and family paperwork, and they even had someone research what shades of paint to use on the buildings’ interiors). Most of the originial restorations were completed by 1935.  “Fifty-nine structures had been restored, ninety-one others reconstructed, twenty-nine new shops in two business blocks at the west end of Duke of Gloucester Street, and four hundred fifty-eight structures removed” (Taylor 188). The number of building restored or reconstructed during that amount of time is truly amazing.

The article was truly enlightening.  While we all know Rockefeller made the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg possible, this article highlights the importance of looking at history in-depth and paying attention to the contributions of people who may not be well-known or receive any credit.  The article tells readers a lesser known fact about the restoration: it was a community effort that was made possible by many locals who worked tirelessly to make this historically significant place available to the public.

Brown and DeSamper’s chapter gives readers a detailed understanding of how the restoration continued while also improving the local economy. Though Colonial Williamsburg’s restoration was completed before World War II, the article discusses the continued “advancements” in restoring Colonial Williamsburg to how it was hundreds of years earlier.  These advancements which (counter-intuitively) bring Colonial Williamsburg back to its roots include adding the voices “of the common man – the tradesmen, women and children, and black slaves, and hundreds of thousands came to see, bear, and engage in an exciting story of our country’s beginning” (Brown et al 217).  Moreover, Colonial Williamsburg advanced the quality of their reenactors’ and tour guides’ presentations by bringing in lecturers from a variety of subjects to make sure the representatives of Colonial Williamsburg gave accurate information to visitors.  By emphasizing the importance of historical accuracy in its representations of Colonial life (whether in presentations, building restorations, or the interior design of a building) Colonial Williamsburg drew millions of people each year to experience what President Roosevelt called years before “the most historic avenue in all America” (Brown et al 222). The continued improvements to Colonial Williamsburg resulted in the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s endeavor to raise millions from the public in order to preserve the historic town.  It seems as though it was easier to raise money once more and more foreign dignitaries and U.S. Presidents visited Williamsburg and thus brought greater attention to the historic area.

Often neglected when discussing Williamsburg is just how much of an impact the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg made on the local economy. As more people began to visit, more hotels and attractions including Busch Gardens and Water Country USA were built. Visitors were so impressed with Williamsburg that some never left.  They retired here resulting in the construction of many residential and retirement communities. This brought a lot of money to the area as well as a growing population.  It is hard to believe that less than a century these major developments, historical buildings in Colonial Williamsburg faced a bleak future while places of development today were nothing more but cornfields.  Though I have always appreciated living near Colonial Williamsburg and going to school in such a historically significant town (and college), the readings made me even more proud to have called Williamsburg home for the last four years.

Spears and Tate Local Histories


Mia Stratis Spears, in “Perseverance, Preservation, and Prosperity: The Greek Community of Williamsburg,” tells the story of the movement of Greek people to the Williamsburg area, and their overwhelming success. I had no idea that so many establishments were owned by Greek immigrants, dating so far back as the 1920s.        Spears remarks on the dynamic between the Greek population and William and Mary and the city of Williamsburg, and how all prospered from their relationship. The article seems to indicate more direct interaction between students at the College and Greek establishment owners and staff than what I have known. Lacking from my experience, I wonder whether the presence of the community is less overt now, or if I just have been sheltered in my connections. Spears also paints a very rosy picture the international relations and merging of communities—was it really so ideal? I find it hard to imagine that it was easy for Greeks to become a part of American culture, or for the residents of Williamsburg to readily accept a different nationality into their midst.

“Town and Gown Through Three Centuries: William & Mary in the Life of Williamsburg” was written by Thaddeus W. Tate Jr. and describes the history of the College in relation to its town, which was a close one from the origins of both. Tate focuses on the beginning and early years of the school, and (depending on the year of publication) very little attention is paid to any modern understanding of the relationship. I agree with Tate that William and Mary and Williamsburg share a very special bond, in that both feed off the other in many ways. Tourists come to the area for both the College and Colonial Williamsburg, while the students act as patrons to many of events and services offered in town. Each serves the other, though just as in the Spears piece, I would like the author to have presented less of a chronology, and more information that complicated this interaction. What about the late 1960s and early 1970s—did students protest? What are the tensions between the College and town communities? These two articles follow many of the standards (and limitations) that we discussed with local histories.

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.

Rowe and Ellis Reflection

African Americans in Williamsburg, 1865-1945 and The African American Community in Williamsburg (1947-1998), written by Linda Rowe and Rex M. Ellis respectively, explore a sector of society often untouched by local histories. When reading and evaluating local histories, readers must question the authors’ motivation.  Ellis answers this question in the first paragraph of his piece in claiming that, “not only is African-American history integral to an understanding of the area in general, but it is important that the black historical perspective be preserved so that future generations may learn from the challenges blacks have faced, their achievements, and the wisdom they have gained through their struggles.” Both Ellis and Rowe strive to present unbiased and well-rounded representations of the African American community in Williamsburg, Virginia. In my opinion, both succeed in their endeavors.

In her article, Rowe highlights the educational developments spurred by the actions of the African American community.  The first school built by the Williamsburg School Board was a school for African Americans. However, Rowe does not explain why this was the case.  Perhaps the town wished to establish a physical separation in education as quickly as possible.  Regardless, the African American community worked tirelessly to help fund this as well as future academic ventures.  These efforts eventually led to a state of the art high school for African Americans called Bruton Heights.  Part of the school’s appeal was that it was also used as a community center. Rowe also discusses the role of African Americans in the work force.  One picture in her article depicts white and black employees working in a shop side by side.  This photograph raises questions about how frequently this occurred. Did this tolerant behavior permeate all workspaces in Williamsburg? Certainly not. Pictures are often worth a thousand words, as the saying goes; so, I really appreciated the plethora of photographs present in both articles.

Rowe’s article lacked much description of African American life by whites.  While a history about the black population alone of Williamsburg deserves to be written, I think Rowe’s article could have been strengthened by the juxtaposition of African American and white perspectives and opinions. This additional perspective could have provided readers with additional information about how black residents of Williamsburg were viewed and treated.The article by Ellis, however, claims from the beginning to be about African-American history, so a reader knows exactly what to expect.

The most interesting aspect of Ellis’ article was the personal confession about the black condition in Williamsburg by  Rockefeller’s chauffer.  This example of local history, straight from the source, is rare and very valuable because it “[represents] one of the few assessments of the black community by a black.” I thoroughly enjoyed reading Mr. Hudson’s testimony because of its authenticity and interesting subject matter. For this reason, I preferred the Ellis article to the Rowe article. The Ellis article also provided the interesting idea that some black residents of Williamsburg yearned for the days when schools were not integrated; they felt that black teachers were more invested in the education and success of black children than were white teachers. I found this point to be extremely interesting because the articles both focused on how hard the African American community fought for equality. I had never considered this point of view until reading Ellis’ article, and it makes sense to me now.

I connected on a deeper level with Ellis’ article because of his discussion of displacement at the hands of the reconstruction of Colonial Williamsburg and its effects on the African American community.  Having focused on and grappled with the idea of place for the past week, I was able to better comprehend the pain of a group of people who were forced out of, not only their homes, but everything comfortable and familiar to them.  According to Ellis, displacement “left many African Americans wondering whether they could find new communities that provided them with the same sense of well-being, comfort, and identity that they had come to know in their original homes.”  This pain and confusion can be likened, albeit on a smaller scale, to my return to my childhood home after a semester at college.  Everything felt different.  Some of my favorite restaurants were gone, new stoplights appeared out of nowhere, roads were changed and re-routed, and the grocery store had been completely rearranged.  While this example seems trivial compared to the uprooting of an entire community and way of life, I felt a smaller version of the disorientation that a change of place can cause. I thought that this was a very effective thing to include in a local history because most people have experienced a loss of place or idea of place at some point in their lives. It is important to focus on, not only what a community of people have gained and accomplished, but also what they have lost in the process.

Reading Response for the Chappell & Oxrieder Articles

In the article “Williamsburg Claims the Amenities of Life”, Julia W. Oxrieder is arguing that her beloved town of Williamsburg, Virginia is in fact a very active, if not progressive, town. The author is looking to debunk the persistent stereotype about Williamsburg’s “lazy and sleepy” (157) qualities, a viewpoint that has managed to stick to the town since just after the Civil War. Oxrieder knocks down the label by giving a full history of consistent progress and activity that occurred in the town from 1880-1920.

Oxrieder acknowledges that at first, the town retained a very rural but well-run aspect of small town life. Essentially, they were far from lazy and the town even boasted thirty-six prominent farmers. Williamsburg had a host of successful merchants including an African American man, Samuel Harris, and a woman, Mrs. W. H. Braithwaite, who ran an undertaking business. Oxrieder notes how the town worked diligently to recover from the destruction and loss that resulted from the Civil War. This is an important part of the argument because the destruction the South endured during and from the war, was more than crippling. I just read an article that described the methods employed by Sherman and Grant when they trampled through the South. They used, albeit reluctantly, a style of warfare that intentionally destroyed any source of sustenance for the Confederate soldiers and its citizens called, chevauchée. Essentially, this is one of the many reasons the South struggled to revive itself after the war. However, Oxrieder strongly argues that the citizens of Williamsburg worked continuously and laboriously to overcome this disadvantage.

From the completion of the C&O railroad connecting the Peninsula to the vast trading networks further west, to the reopening of the College of William & Mary by “the Seven Wise Men” (158), the group of professors that took it upon themselves to reopen and reestablish the school’s prestige, this town remained far from lazy during this forty year time period.  Williamsburg saw automobiles, electricity, sewage systems, public schools, community efforts, and telephone and telegraph lines arrive during this time era. Clearly, the community was far from lazy or backwards. Williamsburg was on the same track as the rest of the country according to Oxrieder. While it possessed some quaint qualities like chestnut and opossum hunts, it went to through the same growing pains that the rest of the U.S. experienced. It suffered ups and downs, but managed to maintain progress in light of adversity. Oxrieder doesn’t want this label of lazy or sleepy to continue to permeate the understanding of this interesting town, and she did a good job convincing me.

The Chappell article was super fascinating because I very much enjoy architecture. Chappell is the Director of Architectural Research for Colonial Williamsburg. He describes the nature of the unique flair of developer John G. Pollard. Pollard’s vision for Pollard Park and Chandler Court was focused on a distinct style of neighborhood development that retains natural and organic qualities. These two neighborhoods are special to the residents of Williamsburg and have managed to remain largely unchanged. They have been criticized by other architects for their smallness and “impractical narrow, lanes” (175) in the past.

Chappell is arguing that Pollard’s style fosters community relations better than the more modern developments that arose during the 1960s and 1970s. He suggests that developments like Pollard Park and Chandler Court offer an individuality that at once is dignified, interesting, and worth repeating. Because he is an expert of restoration, Chappell enjoys the aspect of antiquity and aesthetic of developments like Pollard’s. This romantic style allows Williamsburg to retain its charm.

Colonial Williamsburg Restoration

I chose to read and reflect on the two articles dealing with the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg and its historical development .   I  chose this topic because I want to know more about where I live and walk every day—and I was not disappointed.  Knowing that Rockefeller essentially saved “the town from destruction”, and the amazing minds and talents that went into transforming what is now CW and DOG St. into what President Roosevelt labeled “the most historic avenue in all America” , adds meaningful context, while increasing my appreciation for where I have lived the last 3.5 years.

Most enlightening to me was glimpsing how much work and commitment it took to recreate the past. Clearly, Colonial Williamsburg would not be what it is today without visionary people like Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin; not to mention how persuasive he must have been to convince one of the wealthiest people in the America  to ‘save’ the town.  Learning about Goodwin and the sheer devotion he had for CW made me feel almost guilty.  As someone who lives down the street from what was an all consuming life project, I’m amazed at how blind I was to how much work was done (and continues to be done) to a place I spend a lot of time in. Basically, these articles had the effect of increasing my level of gratitude to those like Goodwin (and Rockefeller) who hold history in such high regard. Generations will benefit from their foresight, even if people like me don’t necessarily appreciate it fully.

Of course, trying to figure out how to represent history accurately is not an easy thing to do.  And the efforts to restore Williamsburg to its “original” state bring out some common problems.  As the second article points out,  it took a ton of effort to authenticate the houses and streets of CW because doing so requires interpretations of history that could be interpreted differently.  At the same time, certain aspects  of our history, such as slavery, are almost impossible to represent in a way that is not offensive to modern society.  However, what that means is that CW is no way an accurate portrayal of history because it largely leaves out slaves—the largest percentage of CW’s population during that time frame.  This, in turn, begs the question: are we better off with a distorted version of history that ostensibly allows those that visit to only focus on what makes us feel good about our national identity?

Reflections on Rowe, Ellis, and Spears

Rowe and Ellis

Rowe’s chapter was about African-American life in Williamsburg from 1865-1945.  In the eighty years’ worth of history Rowe discussed economic, housing, and political conditions from the Reconstruction through the Restoration (which is a ridiculous phrase on paper).  Before the Restoration, as Rowe describes, Williamsburg was an ‘ordinary’ Southern town and conditions for African-Americans aligned with what was happening in the rest of the South, including Jim Crow laws.  Unsurprisingly, most African-Americans found work as laborers or servants for the white population, which they outnumbered at many points.  What interested me was how much the black community invested in education.  Rowe makes it clear that a lot of the money required just to operate grade schools for black children came from the community itself, especially through churches.  The history of Bruton Heights, which a few Google searches revealed is now owned by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, fascinated me.  While it was only around for a couple of decades as a school for African-Americans and community center, it seemed extremely relevant.  Although a lot of the money came from the City and the Rockefeller family, it seemed to be important as a symbol of self-sufficiency in the Jim Crow era.

I especially found the Rockefeller family’s involvement interesting.  Rowe and Ellis both noted that the family, not from Williamsburg, was more progressive than the town and kept facilities in Colonial Williamsburg integrated.  In addition, family land and money went to Bruton Heights, and they supported integration when it came to the community via federal law in later decades.  However, the Restoration and development in Williamsburg around Colonial Williamsburg and the tourism industry contributed to harsher segregation and discrimination in the community.  Rowe notes that the vote to sell City land to become Colonial Williamsburg came from the white community, and that black landowners may not have received proper reimbursement.  While the neighborhoods had been mixed, they became segregated when people moved away from the Restoration.  In addition, the increased prosperity Williamsburg enjoyed in the 20th century mostly went to the white community and to the new, white-dominated communities in the area.  So while Rockefeller tried to help race relations, the changes he introduced produced a more segregated society.


What piqued my interest about this chapter was how much the College contributed to the Greek community, mostly because it’s still true today.  We might not have a Mr. Steve with his big black book giving out mugs at the Leafe on credit, but the delis and other local restaurants like Sal’s are important to the College.  The image of (possibly drunk?) students wandering just off campus in search of food other than the same old stuff at the dining halls is easy to conjure.  I also appreciated learning where the name “Mama Steve” came from, assuming there’s only one!  I think the Greek community in this chapter really tied together the other groups in Williamsburg.  By adding to the hospitality industry in Williamsburg, the Greeks brought together college students, visitors to Colonial Williamsburg, and other hungry folks in town.

Greening the Grid and Ammenities

Chappell’s article on the aesthetics of Williamsburg’s neighborhoods begins by showing the problems of private land developers. C.J. Callahan was a developer who was sent to create subdivisions in the Williamsburg community in the 1920’s. He developed these buildings in a city style (the buildings were in a rectangular grid pattern). The plan lacked distinction to the Williamsburg area and John Pollard bought this tract of land in hopes of creating his own design. Pollard designed a “Court.” Chandler and Braxton court were built in a combo between the American “bungalow style” and English and New England’s “village green.” These areas were tightly packed but came to be some of the most beloved neighborhoods. This type of building style, meant to accentuate the natural aesthetics of the area, has become the norm in Williamsburg. Larger houses have begun to be built but for the most part they maintain the natural aesthetic. This is a major part of Williamsburg and, in my opinion, is one of the distinctive features that sets Williamsburg apart from other communities in Virginia.

Oxreider’s article is about the evolution of Williamsburg into the 20th Century. The article begins by showing that the rest of the state’s community saw Williamsburg as lazy and slightly backwards. Overall it mentioned a lot of the same things from the Tate article about Town and Gown. Most of the article focuses on specific people and how they contributed to the Williamsburg community. I had no idea the first automobile accident in WIlliamsburg occurred in 1911 or the Georgia O’Keefe was involved. The article functions more as a timeline than anything else. It punctuates specific events in Williamsburg’s history and gives the date and important people involved. The town was originally based around the college and farming; it slowly developed a few factories over the years that have since died out. The article goes into specific social movements as well, specifically the women’s suffrage movement. The Williamsburg League “vowed to save women of WIlliamsburg from the new movement (suffrage)” (Chappell). The article added some interesting facts to the background of Williamsburg and seemed to include every group of people it could.

Next Page »


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.

Add Users

If you want to add yourself to this blog, please log in.