Archaeological research has a long history at Colonial Williamsburg, and this summer, visitors to the Historic Area had the unique opportunity to see it in action. For five months between Memorial Day and Halloween, Colonial Williamsburg’s archaeologists were busy systematically probing the ground in front of the Raleigh Tavern for evidence of a late 18th-century front porch that linked the iconic tavern to Duke of Gloucester Street….
In 1848, the journalist Benson Lossing made a pilgrimage to the sacred sites of the American Revolution. He was preparing his two-volume Pictorial Fieldbook of the Revolution, a combination of a historical account and a patriotic travelogue. He visited Boston, Philadelphia, and Williamsburg, but also battlefields in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. In Williamsburg, he paid his respects at the site of the Capitol and stopped in at the Raleigh Tavern.
A couple of weeks ago we announced the launch of an exciting new project to research and reconstruct a porch on the front of Williamsburg’s iconic Raleigh Tavern. The project builds on previous documentary research that determined the presence of a porch on the Raleigh in the late 18th century. What the porch looked like, however, remains largely an open question….
What’s wrong with this 1955 postcard? Well, a few things, if we’re talking about how 18th-century Williamsburg would have really looked. Colonial Williamsburg’s “hostesses” used to wear formal hoop skirts. Duke of Gloucester Street used to have a lot more trees. But ongoing research has revised and enlarged our understanding of how the town looked, and how we interpret it. Today our interpreters wear more everyday clothing, and there are fewer trees.
Another revision is now imminent. The Raleigh Tavern is getting a front porch….