Groups seeking a spiritually enlightening, historical journey will savor a visit to Colonial Williamsburg, where they will experience the wonders of America’s largest living-history museum.
Sitting on 301 acres with 500 public buildings, homes, stores and taverns reconstructed and restored to their original appearances, Colonial Williamsburg revives the spirit of life from the 18th century. More than just a city, Colonial Williamsburg is a recreation of life as it was during some of the most formative years of our nation’s history. Stories of brave individuals and groundbreaking events are recalled through guided and self-guided visits to Colonial Williamsburg, which help paint a vivid picture of this period in history. With more than 50 sites to visit within the city that include merchant shops, government buildings, religious sites, public gathering spots, there are countless opportunities for learning.
Among Colonial Williamsburg’s many attractions is the Bruton Parish Church, an Episcopal church that was established in 1674, making it one of the oldest Episcopal churches in America. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970 and is a well-preserved early example of colonial religious architecture. The Bruton Parish Church remains an active Episcopal parish with nearly 2,000 members.
During colonial times, the Anglican Church served as the only official religion. Although Catholics and other non-Protestants were denied religious freedom, the government allowed many non-Protestants to worship in meeting houses like Williamsburg’s Presbyterian Meeting House. Explore the inside as it would have been hundreds of years ago to all those who entered.
African-American religion played an important role during life in colonial times and visitors can pay a visit to a local home where a self-guided tour will allow for greater insight into the religious heritage of Africans and their Virginia descendants. And just across the street from the home is a plaque that marks the original site where African-American Baptists met. During a visit to Colonial Williamsburg, guests will have the chance to meet costumed interpreters who get into character to tell the story of incredible Americans who helped shape our country as we know it today. Step into the past with Gowan Pamphlet, a revolutionary Baptist preacher whose story of perseverance and drive will serve as an example for generations to come. Pamphlet was once an enslaved tavern worker but went on to found an all-black Baptist church. Meet Mr. Pamphlet as he recounts the remarkable events that took place during this time.
Ann Wager is another individual whose story comes to life in Colonial Williamsburg, and it is a story that exemplifies the spirit of nation-building. Wager was the teacher of the first official school for African Americans in Virginia. Wager taught between 20 and 30 boys and girls each year, with most being enslaved African-Americans. She taught the tenets of Anglican Christianity as well as reading, writing and general deportment. Visitors to Colonial Williamsburg can step into the past with Ms. Wager and learn about her contribution to the founding of our nation.
The unique draw of Colonial Williamsburg is it is more than just a museum. It is a way to travel back in time and see the smallest of details as they were during the colonial era. Every day there are interactive events that allow visitors to take part in experiences that are otherwise rarely a part of our modern world. Stroll through the quaint car-free streets, take a carriage ride, shoot a musket, participate in a local court session, or visit the local silversmith shop. Colonial Williamsburg is a place for all interests and for all ages, and there is no shortage of learning and fun to be had at any time of year.
While exploring Colonial Williamsburg on foot is easy and detailed maps provided online and at the visitor center will keep you on the right track. Exclusive pricing year is offered year around and with advanced reservations, Colonial Williamsburg offers customized tours that provide an extra layer of knowledge that you won’t get anywhere else. There are a variety of tours to immerse yourself in, such as a behind-the-scenes tour, a meet-and-greet with some of Colonial Williamsburg’s animals at the stables, or a haunted walking tour after dark. Of course, these are just a few of the many exciting tours taking place each day.