WYDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.
After more than three decades of planning and research, Colonial Williamsburg’s new Market House is celebrating its grand opening Friday and Saturday.
The liveliness that would have characterized the house in colonial times will be on full display this weekend with a number of planned activities and demonstrations to celebrate the opening.
Just ahead of the 3:45 p.m. ribbon-cutting on Friday, costumed interpreters portraying farmers, traders and shoppers will descend on the Market House for a genuine taste of the sort of excitement and bustle the structure would have housed in colonial times.
Interpreters will lead family-friendly activities on both days from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., including lessons on making cornhusk dolls and interactive demonstrations of period games, such as “nine pins and trap ball” or “hoop and stick.”
Livestock including chickens and sheep will also be on display, and Saturday’s line-up of events will include a special program at 11 a.m. about the role of livestock at the Market House in the 18th century.
Continuing a popular Market Square tradition, the Market House will also be the site of an auction at 1:30 p.m. Saturday that will feature items made from the wood of the old Market House and a sterling silver hand bell engraved with an image of the new building.
The opening-weekend programs are representative of the types of special offerings that will regularly be featured at the Market House, but its every day offerings may be just as enticing. Many of the types of goods that would be been on sale during colonial times will be available for purchase, including fresh fruits, vegetables, breads, jams, candles handmade soaps, in addition to the colonial games and toys that were sold at the old market house.
Though serious preparations have been in the works since the 1980s, the vision of a market house dates back to the 1930s and Colonial Williamsburg’s founder, Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin.
In the intervening years historians and architects with Colonial Williamsburg have scoured the eastern seaboard for clues as to how they might accurately re-create this colonial hub of commercial and social life in order to make the Market House a reality.
Considerable research has also taken place within the historic area, as archaeologists have endeavored to find the exact location of the house within the context of Market Square.
The diligence of these teams of experts, with the financial support of Colonial Williamsburg Trustee Forrest Mars Jr., will finally pay off when the Market House officially opens for business on Friday at 10 a.m, at its historical location just east of the Magazine.
“Not only do you still have the wonderful experience that you had before [at the old market house], but we’ve made it even better with the addition of the more accurate products,” Denise Chiera, manager of the historic area retail stores, said in an interview with 92.3 The Tide. “It allows us to tell the story of the market house much more effectively and much more true to its original form.”
The market will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.