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Best Historic Locations in Williamsburg

By: Cityseeker
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College of William & Mary

Established in 1693, the College of William & Mary is the second-oldest educational institution in the United States; just a few decades younger than the prestigious Harvard University. Commissioned by King William III and Queen Mary II, the college received royal patronage until 1776, when it was declared as a public establishment. A public research university since 1906, the college currently has a strength of nearly 8,500 students and offers a diverse range of undergraduate and graduate courses. Set amidst a beautiful 1,200 acre (485.62 hectares) campus, the property is home to a multitude of historical pieces of architecture such as the Earl Gregg Swem Library, the Matoaka Amphitheater, and the Crim Dell bridge. Most notable alumni include Robert M. Gates, Mike Tomlin, Christina Romer, John Stewart and David M. Brown.

Williamsburg, VA, United States
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Bruton Parish Episcopal Church

Established in 1674, the Bruton Parish Episcopal Church is both architecturally beautiful and the site of several notable historic events. Around the time of the American Revolution the church had several famous attendees, including George Washington, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Jefferson. In 1862, the church was even used as a Confederate hospital after the Battle of Williamsburg. The church is still active and has regular services, but it does encourage visitors to tour the building to discovery its rich history. Make sure you see the churchyard which may be the largest colonial church graveyard in the state.

Williamsburg, VA, United States
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Governor's Palace

The Governor's Palace was the home of Colony of Virginia's Royal Governors and later post-colonial governors Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry. Built in the early 1700s, the main building was burned down in 1781 and was reconstructed in 1930. The reconstructed building was based upon the original architectural design as well as influenced by Jefferson's suggested renovations while he was a governor. Visitors can tour this elegant residence which was built to showcase the Crown's influence. After seeing the Palace, make sure you explore the gardens outside and see if you can navigate your way around the boxwood maze.

Williamsburg, VA, United States
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Peyton Randolph House

The Peyton Randolph House is noteworthy because it is both a prime example of colonial architecture, and a reminder of the history of slavery in Williamsburg. The house, which is located inside the Colonial Williamsburg living museum, was built in 1715 and has undergone several restorations. Visitors today will be able to see what the house looked like when in was owned by Peyton Randolph in the early 1700s. Randolph acted as the first President of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, the event that eventually led the forming of the Unites States. Visitors to the house can wander through its beautiful halls while also learning about the slaves that lived in the outer houses, and what their lives were like. The house is sometimes opened up at night for special night tours, during which visitors search for the many ghosts that are said to haunt this big red estate.

Williamsburg, VA, United States
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George Wythe House

This home, which was built in the mid-1750s, belonged to George Wythe, who helped to lead the patriotic movement against England's rule and became Virginia's first signer of the Declaration of Independence. His home, which stands today as part of the Colonial Williamsburg living museum, has been restored to how it would have looked when George Wythe and his wife lived there. Aside from being the home of a famous patriot, the house also served as George Washington's headquarters when the British seized Yorktown. Thomas Jefferson also made a visit to the home in 1776, adding to the house's list of famous guests. Today, visitors can explore the beautiful brick building and perhaps even imagine that they are standing where George Washington once stood.

Williamsburg, VA, United States
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Colonial Williamsburg

Once the capital of colonial Virginia, Colonial Williamsburg is a living history museum, lending stirring insights into its heyday during the 1700s. The centerpiece of Williamsburg's historic district, this territory features winding thoroughfare dotted with charming edifices in evocative Colonial Revival architectural styles. For the better part of the 18th century, the city was the center of the most civilized life in the colony of Virginia. Having undergone a massive restoration, Colonial Williamsburg is today a heartwarming canvas of a culture which eventually made way for the democratic tenor of the country. Today, this antiquated region is permeated with the exuberance and cultural nitty-gritty that comes with glassblowers, blacksmiths, and artisans producing goods by authentic, tried-and-true colonial methods just as they did back then. The period homes, stores, and other buildings are full of interesting things to do and see. There are even costume rentals and historic accommodations which delve deeper into American history.

Williamsburg, VA, United States
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Bassett Hall

The Bassett Hall is an 18th Century farmhouse that is known for its prominent owners, lovely architectural details, and Colonial Revival gardens. The house was named in 1800 after its owner Burwell Bassett, who was Martha Washington's nephew. In the the 1920s, John D. Rockefeller Jr. moved in with his wife Abby Aldrich Rockefeller and they renovated the already historic home. Today, you can see how the Rockefellers lived since the building and its furniture has been beautifully preserved. After taking a tour make sure you take a stroll around the gorgeous gardens.

Williamsburg, VA, United States
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Historic Jamestown

Flanked by the meandering James River, Historic Jamestown is the erstwhile site of the iconic James Fort. An expanse soaked in enriching history and culture, this is the site which marks the existence of the early English colonists who set foot in North America. Having yielded mysteries and original remains of the fort, this site is home to an archaeological museum called The Archaerium, which illustrates the beginnings of the town, its colonial history as well as its earliest industries. Set along the banks of the river, the Dale House Cafe has on offer some increasingly delectable dishes, while the Glasshouse is yet another place to soak in the town's rich history. Known to be the earliest permanent settlement of the English in America, the town shelters a troupe of notable attractions like the Tercentenary Monument, the Governor Harvey House and the deeply antiquated Jamestown Church.

Jamestown, VA, United States
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Chippokes Plantation State Park

Standing across the James River, the Chippokes Plantation is one of the oldest and largest plantations in the nation. Although the oldest, the park offers great recreational activities for the tourist. One can enjoy the great view of the historic area with it's mansions and gardens, along with it's antique charm. One can take a stroll in the garden to enjoy the scenic view or visit the Forestry Museum. There are swimming pools, hikes and horse back rides as well as campgrounds for overnight stay.

Surry, VA, United States
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Historic Yorktown

There's plenty to do in this charming riverside town. There are many small cafes, shops and restaurants that visitors can spend an entire day exploring; often, there are markets held by the river. There are also many historically-significant points of interest to learn about that revolve around the Civil War and the American Revolution.

Yorktown, VA, United States
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Colonial National Historical Park

The Colonial National Historical Park is made up of some of the most important battlefields in the nation's history and memorials to famous war heroes and figures. This park includes Historic Jamestown, Yorktown Battlefield, Colonial Parkway and the Cape Henry Memorial. This vast park lets you travel back to 17th Century colonization and the American Revolutionary War. There is a bevy of family and kid activities including guided tours by extremely knowledgeable historians that will even dress the part of a 17th-century pilgrim, or you can travel by car through the beautiful Colonial Parkway and stop along the way to check out all the sites. Visitor centers and museum shops are located throughout the park so you will never get lost trekking back through history.

Yorktown, VA, United States
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Yorktown Victory Monument

When General Cornwallis of the British army surrendered to the American and French forces at the Battle of Yorktown, the American Revolution was drawing to a close. As the Battle of Yorktown was the last major land battle of the war, the 98-foot tall Yorktown Victory Monument was erected to ensure that citizens would always remember the great victory as well as the sacrifices soldiers made to gain independence.

Yorktown, VA, United States
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