The longer we work at the Public Armoury, the broader the pool of experts from which we can draw! In this blog post we introduce a new author, Tim Sutphin, Director of Music, Military, and Evening Programs. After the digging is done, and once the hammers are quiet, it is Tim who is responsible for introducing additional elements of interpretive programming to the Historic Trades activities already established on the site. Interpretive programming uses the combined resources of historical research, archaeological research, trades research, and program and presentation skills. Tim joins the discussion and shares his insights as program developer as we move into program planning and implementation phase.
As we enter the last phase of construction at the Armoury site, our thoughts turn to programming, and how it will expand and evolve on this dynamic site. There is already a great deal of activity at the Armoury: the blacksmiths have been working in the new shop for nearly a year now, and have given it an appropriate “lived in” look. Foodways staff is bringing the kitchen to life by preparing simple working class-fare several days a week. The hearty stews, and bread from the bread oven offer a great contrast to elaborate meals prepared in the Palace kitchen. But there is more activity in store. With completion of the tinsmith shop anticipated for mid-April, we are interviewing applicants with hope of having an active tinsmith shop by mid-summer. This will add a new trade to the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Trades program.
Moving into spring and summer, guests will see increasing military activity with members of the Military Programming staff carrying out their work at the Armoury. The Magazine’s armourer will be cleaning and repairing muskets on the site several days a week, and will be joined by other military interpreters casting lead bullets, doing maintenance work on artillery and, with the help of guests, transferring muskets between the Armoury and Magazine.
Throughout the summer and into the fall, carpenters will be constructing a workshop and a storage building on the south end of the lot. The workshop will be a multi-purpose building, used seasonally, and for special projects. One such project is the production of gun carriages, which involves the wheelwrights preparing the carriage’s wood components while, next door, the blacksmiths make iron hardware to assemble and mount the guns. A gin will be built in the yard, enabling workmen to lift heavy artillery pieces on and off of the carriages.
We will include other military activity that we know was carried out at the Armoury, including leather work, some canvas work, and even the making of bone button blanks for uniforms.
Activity on the site will be increasing as we move into the spring season, with additional activity in the summer and fall. Our anticipated grand opening will be in mid-November. Stay tuned as programming evolves.
– Contributed by Tim Sutphin, Director, Music, Military and Evening Programs, and Kenneth Schwarz, Blacksmith, Master of the Shop.