A Convenient, Luxurious Bed & Breakfast in the Heart of Downtown Williamsburg

Historic Williamsburg

Williamsburg is a city located on the Virginia Peninsula in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. As of the 2009 census, the city had a total population of 12,729. It is bordered by James City County and York County, and is an independent city. The Bureau of Economic Analysis combines the city of Williamsburg with James City County for statistical purposes.

Williamsburg, in the center of the Historic Triangle of Virginia (which includes Jamestown and Yorktown), is well-known for the restored colonial area of the city, Colonial Williamsburg, and for the College of William and Mary which is situated mostly within the city of Williamsburg. The newspapers of record are the Daily Press, published in Newport News, and the bi-weekly The Virginia Gazette, published in Williamsburg.

History

Originally known as Middle Plantation, the settlement that developed into Williamsburg was established in the 1630s by colonists seeking to escape the marshy, malarial confines of Jamestown. The Royal Charter granted to the College of William and Mary in 1693 and the burning of the State House in Jamestown led the government to move the capital to Williamsburg in 1699. For nearly the next century, until 1780, Williamsburg was the capital of colonial Virginia.

1782 Frenchman’s Map of the City of Williamsburg

The 18th century was the glorious apogee of Williamsburg, as it expanded to include the Governor’s Palace, the Capitol building, the College and various taverns, Inns and businesses that catered to “Publick Times,” when the legislature met. The patriots who conceived and founded the United States – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry – strolled its streets and debated the issues that finally led to the decision to declare independence.

In 1780 Virginia’s Governor, Thomas Jefferson, decided to move the capital to Richmond, above the fall line and out of reach of British warships. Lacking the excitement of Publick Times, Williamsburg entered a period of slow, genteel decline. The glories of the Colonial age departed, but the memories remained.

During the Civil War the armies of North and South met at the Battle of Williamsburg in McClellan’s 1862 Peninsula Campaign. Union troops burned the College and occupied the city for the duration of the war. Afterwards, Williamsburg remained intact, battered and dilapidated, but still proud.

The Renaissance of the city began in the mid-1920s when the Rev. W.A.R. Goodwin attracted the interest of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in restoring the historic buildings and ambience of 18th-century Williamsburg. Over the next several decades Colonial Williamsburg emerged and the colonial city emerged again from the ruins to new prominence.