The Fife and Drum Inn is steps away from some of America’s most historic areas. Rich with history, Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown and Richmond all play significant roles in the foundation and progress of our nation. While there are countless artifacts and relics to be seen on the streets of our city and surrounding areas, there are also many to be found behind closed doors. Our bed and breakfast in Williamsburg is home to a few itself, including…
Jamestown photos – along with several “bookplate” prints, hand-colored from 19th century history books, several antique postcards live in the inn. One is from the 1907 Jamestown Exposition, celebrating the 300th anniversary of Jamestown. Another has a slightly more unique story behind it, showing a seawall and cypress tree offshore from Jamestown Island. Until about 1990, when archeologist Bill Kelso discovered the original fort site, it was believed this tree marked the probable site. Although due to erosion on the island the tree was actually in the river at that point, the postcard sticks to the belief.
Stained glass window – Jim Anthony, the father of owner, Sharon, enjoyed salvaging architectural items in Richmond. This window was one of four matching windows, all in rotting frames and missing shards of glass. A stained glass restoration expert in Richmond expertly crafted a new wood frame and used salvageable pieces from the damaged windows to create one perfect one. When the building underwent a renovation several years ago, a window that once led to the outside was lost. As luck would have it, the new window fit perfectly in its spot.
Richneck Plantation artifacts – When Sharon and Billy’s sons, Sam and Daniel, were playing in the woods one day as young boys, they happened upon the remains of a missing plantation house. Because of their discovery the site is officially registered in their names with the state. The discovery of Richneck Plantation is very significant in the history of early migration to the area, signifying development outside of Jamestown proper. There is a full description framed outside the door of the Richneck room and several artifacts from the site can be found inside.
Red Gate – In the early 1990s Sharon was working on another project in the Hitchens Building when she visited an architectural salvage store on the south side of Richmond. Sharon claims the place is like a treasure trove, typically full of antique gems that made their way there from beautiful plantation homes. Sharon loved the red gate the second she saw it and inquired about it immediately, but the owner told her it had already been leased to a movie studio for a year! The owner told Sharon not to worry, that he would call when it was returned. A year later, Sharon collected the red gate and kept it in storage until the inn opened and it took its place at the top of the staircase. It’s still there today marking the entrance to the Cedars Suite. The gate’s original red paint hasn’t been retouched or redone, and if you look closely you can catch a glimpse of it in the movie “North and South.”
Tourist sign – Back in the 1930s, when the Rockefeller family began the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg, everyone who lived in the city was affected. The sudden influx of visitors and boom in the city’s tourism industry changed every day life for locals. This was before the Williamsburg Inn or any other lodging was built to accommodate the steadily blossoming tourism industry in this previously sleepy town. With so many people visiting and so few places to house them, many families opened their homes and rented rooms to visitors. Sharon’s grandparents, Webster and Mary Hitchens, were one of these families. They extended that famous southern hospitality, along with hot meals and good conversation, to guests who came to their door. And how did they advertise their rooms for rent? With a big sign reading “Tourist” right in the front of their home!
We’re proud to host an array of unique artifacts within the walls of our Williamsburg bed and breakfast and hope you’ll keep an eye out for them on your next visit. Maybe you’ll see something you’ve never noticed before. Which of our artifacts have you spotted?