Lickitung, Scyther, Abra, Parasect, Jigglypuff, and yes—even, an Ivysaur! All spotted (and captured) in our Colonial Capital last night! Sound like I’m speaking a foreign language? Welcome to the virtual world of Pokémon GO.
The 18th century and the 21 century melded last night during our second social meet-up which included a free historic walking tour for locals and hotel guests. An estimated 400 people of all ages from near and far (we had some folks join us who were staying here from Jersey and New York) spent their evening playing the game that’s gained global popularity. And at the same time, they got to learn a bit about American History too!
Throughout our promotional process, we heard from a handful of folks who felt this event was unrelated to our core historic mission. Our viewpoint is that if people are coming here at night to play the game regardless, why not use it as an opportunity to educate and inspire a new generation of CW fans? As a not-for-profit living history museum, that is our true mission. We have the knowledge and talent to get people excited about this pivotal moment in our history, but we have to get them here on site to actually hear the message.
While this game is bringing in locals from here in Williamsburg, it’s also drawing in families from the southside, Richmond, and even Northern Virginia. Many would not have otherwise made the trip here to explore our town. They come, play, learn, and hopefully fall in love with CW while they’re at it. Many tell us they had no idea our 18th-century piece of the world existed and we’re right here in their backyard! Others say they imagine us as the same venue where they had their 4th grade field trip 20 years ago. They don’t realize that we are embracing new ideas, new programs, and yes—even virtual reality games—to appeal to a broader demographic.
It also proved a wonderful revenue opportunity for our taverns where business is traditionally a little slower on Thursday nights. Instead, hundreds were lined up to buy food and drinks before the walk. And many also stayed after to take advantage of even more specials.
For this event, we also set up a donation page. While the tour itself was a free offer for the community, one guest suggested we allow a way for people to make a donation as well. And what better way to do that, than with a little friendly competition? It’s not too late. Click the image above if you’d like to make a gift to the Foundation!
This time around, the fun started at Shields Tavern where Mrs. Shields herself, along with Chef Tony and his team grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and whipped up team drinks for Mystic, Valor, and Instinct. It was wonderful to see so many families enjoying the night together. We even had a birthday girl who chose the event as a way to celebrate her special day.
And of course… who could forget our adorable Pikachu fan from our first event? As soon as he walked through the gate, I asked him if he knew he was famous.
He nonchalantly (like any humble celebrity would) shrugged his shoulders and said very matter of factly… “Yeah. I know.”
After everyone had filled up on food and libations, we rallied the crowd to the front of the tavern where our tour guides Chrystal and Emily (wearing microphones this time!), divided guests into two groups.
From there, they took folks along opposite routes through the Historic Area, stopping at PokéStops to collect Pokeballs, eggs, and potions. But that’s not all the players took away from each site; they also learned fun facts about life in Colonial Virginia.
Chrystal’s group was made up of the more advanced players who were willing to put in the extra distance to gain a few more Pokémon and battle at some gyms along the way. Micky commented on our Facebook event page, “Thank you! We had tons of fun!!! It was neat watching the gyms switch colors as everyone battled it out!”
Here are some other shots posted by guests who attended, as well as some great pictures taken by our Colonial Williamsburg photographer Lael White. Feel free to save and share on your personal social media accounts! Thank you to everyone who came out to show their support for CW and we look forward to seeing you all again soon.
Want to learn more history about our Pokestops and Gyms? Here’s a list we shared during our inaugural event. Print and bring it with you the next time you head our way to play. #GottaCatchEmAll
HISTORIC AREA PokéStops
Anderson Armoury: Reconstructed in the last five years, in the summer, the Anderson Armoury offers four trade shops to be seen in one location: Historic Foodways, Tinsmiths, Blacksmiths, and the Military Artificers. During the early years of the Revolutionary War, Williamsburg Blacksmith James Anderson expanded his small, commercial site into a Public Armoury. As Public Armourer, Anderson maintained and manufactured many of the weapons, tools, and other equipment used by the American military. The Armoury had a diverse workforce of more than 40, working in several shops and fed from the site’s kitchen. On certain days, you will be able to see (and smell) cooking demonstrations here!
Booker Tenement: A building under a 100-year lease by Colonial Williamsburg, the Booker was a structure with a horrible location. Next to a 19th-century tan-yard and a slaughterhouse, it was clearly unloved by the man who erected it by 1826, Richard Booker. The future of this building is unknown, but we do maintain its upkeep.
Bruton Parish Church: Bruton Parish is the first Anglican Church, erected in 1660. Many patriots attend service here including Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Patrick Henry, and George Mason—just to name a few. The church served as a hospital and storehouse during the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, as well as during the Civil War.
Cabinetmaker: This historic trade makes high style furniture and furnishings. Anthony Hay, a prominent Scot known for his ability to communicate “plain and neat” taste of the Virginian, owned the shop in 18th-century Virginia.
Charlton Coffeehouse: Coffee houses in the 18th century not only served as places to get strong beverages like coffee and chocolate, but also as the best places to get the town gossip and for the men to acquire news of politics and goings-on about the colonies during the day. You could gamble and play cards here too—making the coffeehouse akin to a day-time tavern.
Chowning’s Tavern: This was a popular spot for the “ordinary sort.” As it was in the 18th century, Chowning’s today is a hub for music, gossip, good food, and gambling.
Everard House: This house was built 1718 by keeper of Williamsburg’s Magazine, Thomas Brush. Inside you’ll find an elaborate staircase and balusters. Thomas Everard purchased it in the 1750s. He gained clout in Williamsburg as clerk of the York county courts, as well as owning 600 acres of land and becoming an outspoken voice in favor of independence.
Geddy: This is one of Colonial Williamsburg’s original buildings, which once housed the diverse Geddy family of trades people, who handled everything from silversmithing to watch repair. It features a conglomeration of various styles of architecture, from Greek to Italian influence, and an L-shape, which was uncommon in Williamsburg.
Greenhow Tenement: John Greenhow was a master of importation and exportation in the 18th century; his store carried wares of all varieties. If he didn’t have it, you didn’t need it!
King’s Arms Tavern: Jane Vobe’s tavern appealed to the gentry. She described it as “where the best people resorted.” Vobe inherited the establishment from her deceased husband and was a successful businesswoman here in Williamsburg.
Magazine: In 1714, the General Assembly asked Governor Alexander Spotswood to build “a good substantial house of brick” precisely to protect the colony’s arms and munitions. The night of April 20, 1775, Lieutenant Henry Collins stole toward the capital with a squad of royal marines from H.M.S. Magdalen anchored in Burwell’s Bay on the James River. Their orders, straight from Governor Dunmore, were to empty the arsenal and disable the muskets stored there. This was the spark…. of a Revolution.
McKenzie Shop: Owned by a Dr. Kenneth McKenzie, doctor of Physics, who apparently lived here from October 1747 to December 1751, at which point the property was leased or sold to Philip Grymes, Receiver General of Virginia, for the use of the Governor while the Palace was being conditioned for his occupancy.
Military Encampment: The tents and military supplies on the corner of Nicholson and Botetourt Streets help us interpret the soldier’s life. During the Revolution the Virginia State Garrison Regiment was stationed in nearby barracks and frequently marched down DoG Street. The site is called Ravenscroft.
Nicholson Store: A lot that changed hands frequently, shrank and grew many times over history, the Nicholson store was a shop in which William Pasteur, surgeon, sold a variety of goods and drugs.
Palmer House: This tall brick home on West Duke of Gloucester Street has been called the Kerr House, the Vest Mansion, and the Palmer House in its nearly 250 years, but it may be known best today as the house with the Christmas apples!
Peyton Randolph House: Peyton Randolph was an important figure in Williamsburg. He was speaker of the House of Burgesses and elected presiding officer to the first Continental Congress in Philadelphia. The oldest parts of the house date back to 1715, with later additions. Its sprawling back yard and outbuilding speak to importance of face-value in a home in the 1700s.
Play Booth Theatre: This is the site of first theater in Williamsburg in 1717. Shortly thereafter, the site moved near the Capitol. The new site offered the first theatrical performance in British North America in 1752 under Lewis Hallum’s “company of comedians.” It’s shaped like a shoe box which was typical of English theaters—a third of structure is the stage. The other 2/3rds are seating, arranged like modern theaters with higher seats with “box seats,” the “pit” for the middling sort, and the “gallery” or balcony for the “lesser” sort. Theater was an important method of recreation and cultural expression, enjoyed by everyone from the gentry to even slaves.
Shields Tavern: Shields, one of around seven licensed taverns in Williamsburg in the period, catered to the lesser gentry and upper middling sort of characters. The higher gentry favored the Raleigh and Weatherburn’s. This represents Shields at approximately 1750 where proprietor James Shields lived with his family.
William Pitt Store: Set up on the site of the former Davidson shop, the William Pitt store sells wares for children of all varieties. What is known of the Davidson shop is little: it is believed, according to advertisement in the Virginia Gazette, that as early as May 20, 1737 Robert Davidson was advertising medicines in Williamsburg: “All Sorts of Chemical and Galenical Medicines, faithfully Prepared and Sold by Robert Davidson and Thomas Goodwin, chymists, at Williamsburg.”
Wythe House: This stately Georgian was the home of George Wythe, signer of the Declaration of Independence and law instructor to Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall. It served as headquarters for Gen. Washington before the siege of Yorktown in the fall of 1781. It was later used as offices for W.A.R. Goodwin, “the father of Colonial Williamsburg.
HISTORIC AREA GYMS
Capitol: This building represents the first capitol, where Virginia’s House of Burgesses first met in 1705. That building burned in 1747. It was rebuilt in the early 1750s and the legislature continued to meet there until the capital moved to Richmond in 1780. In between, Patrick Henry famously was accused of treason for railing against the Stamp Act in 1765. In 1793 its west wing was dismantled and the bricks sold off. The east wing burned down in 1832.
Governor’s Palace: Finished in 1722 after 16 years of building; home to seven governors, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. It was also the backdrop of a few scenes in the hit AMC show, TURN: Washington’s Spies.
Raleigh Tavern: Recently our experts determined that this famous tavern actually had a front porch, which we’re researching with an archaeological dig. A front porch will be added back in 2017. Inside, this was the place where the House of Burgesses retreated on more than one occasion to meet when the royal governor dissolved the legislature. It was here the people fought back and took steps toward revolution. It’s also the place where, at a 1760 dance, the future Rebecca Ambler rejected Thomas Jefferson’s marriage proposal.
St. George Tucker House: Tucker, a prominent figure and lawyer, was a Revolutionary War officer, scholar, and judge who boasted having the first “bathroom” in Williamsburg. An anomaly at the time, Tucker converted a dairy out back into a true “BATHroom,” outfit with a copper tub with a drain. While not currently an exhibition site, the Tucker was owned by the family until 1993.