Southern Agenda

Time and Time Again

When Colonial Williamsburg calls itself a living history museum, it’s referring to more than just the gunsmiths, milliners, and George Washington impersonators ambling along the cobblestoned streets. Through ever-progressing research, documentary analysis, and archaeological digs, sometimes the buildings themselves evolve or even revert to a former incarnation. “Since the restoration of Williamsburg began in the 1920s, we’ve developed so many more capabilities,” says Dani Jaworski, the manager of architectural collections. Those capabilities have led to some major architectural discoveries, spotlighted in the new exhibit at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg called Restoring Williamsburg (through 2024). For instance, an overmantel landscape painting found in the George Reid House prompted historians to dig further, uncovering that a blacksmith and his wife lived there during the American Revolution, before the merchant the home was named for. A 1773 Virginia Gazette advertisement mentioned a porch on the front of the Raleigh Tavern, which facilities staff then added back in 2017, confirming that Southerners’ love for porches transcends the centuries.