Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Trade Shops to Expand Along DoG Street

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The Windmill of Colonial Williamsburg once stood behind the Peyton Randolph House, but is scheduled to make a new home at Great Hopes Plantation. (Photo courtesy Colonial Williamsburg)
The Windmill of Colonial Williamsburg once stood behind the Peyton Randolph House, but is scheduled to make a new home at Great Hopes Plantation. (Photo courtesy Colonial Williamsburg)

Colonial Williamsburg is kicking off an expansion of the Historic Trades department with the relocation of four of the historic area’s most popular shops.

In the coming months, all four of the shops – the gunsmith, joiner, weaver and tailor – will be moving into their own independent structures as part of an effort to offer more demonstrations and hands-on programming throughout the Historic Area.

“These moves will create an increased density of trades and other activity along Duke of Gloucester Street so that a guest exiting one site is not more than a couple doors from another active site,” Colonial Williamsburg Director of Historic Trades Peter Seibert said. “The moves also provide the shops a welcome opportunity to expand and to grow in new ways.”

The announcement comes about a week after Colonial Williamsburg Foundation announced it would cut about 60 jobs – most of which occurred “higher up in the chain of command” and in hospitality services, according to a letter to employees from foundation President Mitchell Reiss – in its mission to refocus on the Historic Area, particularly the costumed interpreters and other educational initiatives.

The Gunsmith Shop and the Foundry, which until recently were both located at the James Geddy Foundry, are separating with the relocation of the gunsmith to the Ayscough House on Blair Street. The new location opens today, while the Foundry will remain at its previous location.

A week later the Joiner Shop, previously located at the Ayscough House, will reopen at the Taliaferro-Cole Shop on Duke of Gloucester Street at the former site of the weaver. It will also separate administratively from the carpenter under recently promoted Master of the Shop Ted Boscana, according to a recent news release from Colonial Williamsburg.

The series of moves will be rounded out in April with the relocation of the weaver and the tailor. The weaver will move to the Greenhow Tenement on Duke of Gloucester Street at Market Square; the tailor will vacate the Margaret Hunter Shop in the millinery to the Durfey Tailor Shop near Merchants Square.

The series of switch-ups is the beginning of big changes for the Historic Trades over the course of 2016, the release states. Visitors to Colonial Williamsburg can expect to see the return of candle-making over Easter weekend and the reopening of the Windmill of Colonial Williamsburg later in the year.

Work continues on the restored Windmill near Great Hopes Plantation.  After completion of the structure and site, milling of corn and interpretation are expected to begin when the site opens late in 2016.

“Our world-renowned Historic Trades are experiencing a renaissance, which reflects our renewed commitment to bring the Historic Area to life in engaging, multisensory ways that make the past relevant and immediate,” said Ted Maris-Wolf, Colonial Williamsburg vice president of research and historical interpretation. “Each trade shop conveys distinctive aspects of 18th-century science, technology, and artistry through opportunities to see, hear, smell, and touch bespoke items that represent everyday life during a critical period in American history.”