plane_crazzy

Colonial Williamsburg Visit

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I am going to be visiting Williamsburg next week and one of the big things on my list to see is the old ironwork.  I was wondering if there was something in particular that I had to be sure to see while I was there.

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See everything. It is a great place of history. Be sure to visit the Blacksmith shop. It is about 2 hours from where we live now and we haven't been in a few years but we used to be stationed nearby and it was/is one of my favorite places to visit. 

 

Have a safe trip. 

 

Mark <><

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Well, I visit CW quite often as I know most of the 'smiths and am just a wee bit more than an hour away.  Lot of ironwork around from the simple, like the shutter hooks and hinges, to the doorlocks, to the gates and weathervanes.  When they reconstruct the buildings, everything is made on site.  They just redid the blacksmith shop (now called the armoury) last year, so Ken and the bunch had to make all of the nails (something like 20-30000 from the roofing nails, the clapboard nails, the door and window hinges, and the locks.   Any particular type of thing you are interested in seeing? Let me know and I'll see how I can help.

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anything in general. I guess some of the wrought iron gate and that sorta thing would be the biggest thing I dont want to miss.  I hear it is all over there so its kinda easy to miss a few great examples mixed in the multitude of recreations.  We do not have much in this part of the country like that to look at so I want to get as much of it in as I can, and my wife will tolerate!

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Since childhood I've been fascinated by Colonial Williamsburg, ... and have visited many times.

 

 

In the early 80's I was in frequent correspondence with Roy Underhill, regarding our shared interest in Antique Tools.

 

At his invitation, ... over Easter weekend, in ( I think ) 1984, ... I visited the construction site of "Anderson Forge & Nailery", ... where Underhill's crew of "Housewrights", had begun construction on the current structure that houses the Forges, and Blacksmith Shop.

 

 

They had been "riving" the shingle siding for the shop, ... and had several "Froes" that needed new handles.

 

( A Froe for splitting roof shingles has a straight handle, ... but those used for splitting the 4' long, tapered "Siding Shingles" were often fitted with a curved handle. )

 

As it happens, we had discussed this issue previously, and when I showed up, he put me straight to work, fitting some new, "properly" curved handles.  :P

 

So that was my "contribution" to the "original" Anderson Forge project.

 

( It's my understanding, that the roof and siding has recently been replaced, ... and Boy does that make me feel OLD. )

 

Over the ensuing decades, I've re-visited the Forge many times, ... seen it evolve into it's current configuration, ... and would reccomment allocating several hours of your visit, just to absorb the detail they've achieved with that particular re-creation.

 

 

There's an awful lot to see in Williamsburg, ... and I think it's best to decide beforehand where you'll spend your time.

 

Otherwise, nightfall will overtake you, long before you've "seen all the sights".

 

 

 

 

.

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Smoothbore, hate to tell you, but they tore down the entire Anderson Forge building and have rebuilt it fron the ground up, added a storage building, and now they have just completed construction of what will be the tinsmith shop adjacent to the forge.   Here's a link to the CW blog on the project.  http://whatsnew.history.org/topics/armoury/   Basically, the  CW Foundation got about $5 million from Forest Mars (of the Mars Candy Company) to reconstruct the blacksmith ship/Armoury site- and they are doing it based upon the way it was during the Revolutionary War when it served as an Armoury.  A kitchen building was added.  The site is getting pretty active now.  You need to come back down and check it out.

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Places like that creep me out. They are in third person I think.............or is it first? Not fun. I am a demonstrator/living historian/re-enactor and I am myself. I greet folks. Ask where they are from/what brings them to our village etc.

 

The folks at places like this really spook you. I was walking along wearing flip flops/running shorts and a T. This lady on the street (dressed in a costume of that era) had a fit. She asked if I had reported the robery to the local sherriff! She asked if I needed help in any way. She couldn;'t understand why/how somebody would rob the clothes from my person and that is wasn't proper to walk about in my underwear.

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Williamsburg is fun, we were there shortly after the New Blacksmith Shop was opened.  We had been there the year before when they were just starting the foundation.  We watched the progress every day on the Web cam they have on the sight, quite interesting, including them putting Radiant Heat in the Concrete floor under the bricks!  Plenty of Iron work all around the place to see and study.

 

A good camera, extra batteries, spare memory card needed.  And Click away!

 

Unless your 30 you can't see all in one day, we try 2-3 when we get there but it's 500 miles for us to get there.  There a number of forges there besides the shop. X the gunsmith shop with back to back forges in separate rooms, also the wheelwright shop where the Smiths were operating out of when they built the new shop. 

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Places like that creep me out. They are in third person I think.............or is it first? Not fun. I am a demonstrator/living historian/re-enactor and I am myself. I greet folks. Ask where they are from/what brings them to our village etc.

 

The folks at places like this really spook you. I was walking along wearing flip flops/running shorts and a T. This lady on the street (dressed in a costume of that era) had a fit. She asked if I had reported the robery to the local sherriff! She asked if I needed help in any way. She couldn;'t understand why/how somebody would rob the clothes from my person and that is wasn't proper to walk about in my underwear.

You will find that most people in Colonial Williamsburg are third person. That is that they will speak to you in a modern way and do not pretend that it is 1776. There is only a hand full of the actors that are first person and portray a person from 1776.

You will also find that Colonial Williamsburg has some of the best craftsmen in there respective areas. The Blacksmiths there are absolutely excellent. This historical site blows pretty much every other site in the US out of the water. CW does not hire people to demonstrate that are not qualified in there trades. Nor do they rotate interpreters though the trade shops like many other historical sites.

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Don't forget the SIlversmith - he has a forge too! Cooper's shop does have an anvil for riveting straps on the buckets and barrels...The Wheelwright's forge was the originial blacksmith forge used at CW. If you watch the film "Hammermen" about the CW blacksmith (starring the great 'smith John Allgood (he was master for many years, Peter Ross started with him and became master when John retired).

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I highly suggest you sign up for some of the tours and demonstrations.  You will learn a lot of inside information about the history not found in history books.  Also the ghost tours at night are a lot of fun.  Call early to set up your ghost tour time as they fill up.

 

I am fortunate to be about 45 minutes aways and we enjoy going there very much.

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we will be there for about 3 days, but I do not know how many days my wife will tolerate staring at metal. are the ghost tours any good quick?

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Plane_crazy, I'll check with my wife as to the ghost tours. We've gone on several different ones, and some are better than others. Do you have any kids or is it just you and your wife. If you send me your email via a private message and let me know what kinds of things ya'll might be interested in, I'll talk it over with my wife and send you some suggestions.

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We have been on The Original Ghost of Willimasburg candlelight tour (link below).  It was a lot of fun, quite a bit of walking.  Younger kids may find it a little boring since you walk the streets to various houses and cemetaries and your guide tells you tales of reported sightings and history behind the hauntings.  Its more like a walking history tour where the subject is ghosts and hauntings.  I have not done the Extreme Ghost Tour. 

 

To answer your question yes my wife and I thought it was a good time and lot of fun and we do reccomend it.  Again you learn a lot of history that is not found in text books so makes it worth the trip for kids to learn.

 

 

http://theghosttour.com/

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we will be there for about 3 days, but I do not know how many days my wife will tolerate staring at metal. are the ghost tours any good quick?

Taking the Wife is a BIG mistake.

 

Beware the Pottery.

 

 

 

 

.

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Smoothbore, hate to tell you, but they tore down the entire Anderson Forge building and have rebuilt it fron the ground up, added a storage building, and now they have just completed construction of what will be the tinsmith shop adjacent to the forge.   Here's a link to the CW blog on the project.  http://whatsnew.history.org/topics/armoury/   Basically, the  CW Foundation got about $5 million from Forest Mars (of the Mars Candy Company) to reconstruct the blacksmith ship/Armoury site- and they are doing it based upon the way it was during the Revolutionary War when it served as an Armoury.  A kitchen building was added.  The site is getting pretty active now.  You need to come back down and check it out.

Like I didn't already feel ancient.

 

I'm certain the structure built in the 1980's was still sound, ... and I'm equally sure that it was "Period Correct", ... so I'm having trouble understanding WHY it would have been raised, in favor of a "Revolutionary" period structure.

 

 

I guess money talks, ... and Tourism trumps Tradition .....

 

 

 

 

.

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I know that part of the decision to tear the building down was related to the construction. When the Anderson Forge was rebuilt with your help, Smoothbore, the staff at CW felt that it should be built exactly as it would have originally, i.e., a wooden structure on top of the ground, with no foundation. The foundations had become problematic and it had been decided to redo the Forge. It is my understanding that the CWF decided to reconstruct it in the manner at which it would have been at is peak - during the war, blacksmithing, repairing muskets, bayonets, artillery carriage hardware, etc. to bring more activities and more interest into CW. Ken convinced them to bring the tinsmith trade back, so now there wll be more whitesmithing to go along with the blacksmithing.

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Also the old forge building had been leaking from the roof for a long time and there was bad rotting in areas of the frame. The new shop grand!. Although I have to say if you were not looking closely at the building, and went in the old one, then the new one a year later you probably would not realize it was a new shop.

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Just my luck, we are going just late enough in the year that they do not do the ghost tours on a nightly basis, only friday and saturday...

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Relative to the Ghost Tours, there are at least 3 different companies that offer them.  My wife has been checking on different ones to send you some suggestions.  Not sure about 3 weeks from now, but the "Original Ghost Tours of WIlliamsburg" are still operating every day of the week next week.

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On 8/30/2013, 3:24:47, Farmall said:

Relative to the Ghost Tours, there are at least 3 different companies that offer them.  My wife has been checking on different ones to send you some suggestions.  Not sure about 3 weeks from now, but the "Original Ghost Tours of WIlliamsburg" are still operating every day of the week next week.

I'm a grad from William and Mary in Williamsburg so I spent a few years there. In terms of ghost tours, I recommend the Colonial Ghosts tour. I know they're run by locals and I found the tour a lot of fun. We had a nice dinner at the French Bistro, Blue Talon, then met the tour nearby for our ghost walk through Williamsburg and the W&M campus. My favorite spot along the tour was the old jail where Blackbeard's pirate crew stayed back in the 1700s.

Also here's another spot to check out - Williamsburg blacksmiths for colonial wrought iron works with authentic reproductions from the era.

Enjoy!

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Slightly off topic, but when I got interlibrary loan copies of Mark Aspery's books to read while recovering from my recent surgery, I was delighted to find in them the bookplates from the CW library! Who knows who else may have consulted them!

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