This beautiful house, photographed several years ago after a snowstorm, was the home of America’s first law professor and signer of the Declaration of Independence, George Wythe. Born in 1726 and admitted to the bar at the tender age of twenty, Wythe was a respected scholar, educator and judge.
As a teacher at the College of William and Mary, Wythe was mentor to future Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe and future Chief Justice of the United States John Marshall. Wythe and Jefferson remained life-long friends. When Wythe died in 1806, a victim of suspected poisoning by his sister’s grandson, George Wythe Sweeney, Wythe left his extensive library to his friend Jefferson. Years later Jefferson followed his friend’s example and left his library to the University of Virginia.
The Wythe House is one of the most beautiful colonial houses in Williamsburg and is well worth a visit.
Cigar store Indians have an interesting history. Because many people in the 17th and 18th centuries could neither read nor write, store owners used emblems or totems to advertise their wares. A great example that still exists today is the striped pole seen outside many barber shops. Because American Indians introduced tobacco to Europeans, the image of a Native American became the symbol of tobacconists.
Unfortunately, many of the artisans who created the statues had never actually seen a Native American. The cigar store Indians, for the most part, looked nothing like a Native American. Many have dark skin and features associated more with people of African or Asian descent.
The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, in Williamsburg, Virginia, has a nice collection of these advertising icons.
As Winter quickly approaches, I want to share this photo I took at Williamsburg, Virginia several years ago. During our visit a snow storm struck the east coast and left a six-inch blanket of snow covering Williamsburg. While Colonial Williamsburg and most businesses in the town were closed, we made the best of the situation. We spent a lot of time wandering through the historic district and taking many photos of a once in a lifetime experience.
I love how the red brick chimneys pop against the otherwise monochromatic scene. I also love that, because the scene is from the backyards of the historic buildings, the snow is pristine, with footprints or other signs of man. To me, it’s a peaceful and beautiful scene and provides a different view of a much photographed tourist destination.
The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, in Williamsburg, Virginia, is the world’s oldest continually-operated museum for the exhibition of American folk art. The museum has been collecting and exhibiting folk art since it opened in 1957 and now holds over 7,000 pieces of folk art.
On our last visit to Williamsburg, we were lucky to be able to view their dollhouse collection. The dollhouses ranged from a dollhouse constructed from a wooden crate and filled with handmade furniture to an elaborate, and huge, dollhouse White House. The dollhouses were made to be played with. There’s a little farm, complete with animals and fences, and a wonderful cardboard castle.
While the White House was quite impressive, I was much more taken with the more “play friendly” pieces. They were designed to be played with, not as a display piece. If I were a child, I’d want something I could actually touch rather than just look at.
The museum is full of wonderful works of art. We’ve been there several times and there’s always things we haven’t seen before. If you visit Williamsburg, I highly recommend a visit to the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. You won’t regret it.
This whimsical work of art one of the many pieces of folk art on exhibit at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Edgar A. McKillop (1879-1950) was a blacksmith from Balfour, North Carolina who began his art career when a neighbor offered him four black walnut trees in exchange for removing the trees from the neighbor’s property. McKillop used the wood to create hand carved sculptures as well as practical items such as furniture and kitchen utensils.
The hippocerous is one of his largest works. Created in the 1920s, the piece is actually a hand cranked phonograph. McKillop carved the cabinet from walnut and created a fantastical beast with characteristics of the rhinoceros and the hippopotamus. It looks like a creature that would have populated the pages of Where the Wild Things Are.
I find it interesting how many folk artists integrated technology into their otherwise rustic art. In this case, McKillop used the work as a cabinet for a hand cranked phonograph. The hippocerous doesn’t simply hold the phonograph. When a record is played, the sound comes from its mouth. But wait, that’s not all. As the record plays, the beast’s tongue wags back and forth with the music. It’s a wonderful and whimsical work of art.
Colonial Williamsburg is one of our favorite places to visit. It’s an incredibly beautiful and interesting place. We love to stay in one of the taverns of colonial houses. A couple years ago we went to Williamsburg at the end of February and stayed at the Market Square Tavern, just off Market Square. The Market Square Tavern was home to Thomas Jefferson while he studied law with George Wythe. This was the second time we stayed at the tavern and this time we opted for the only room with a fireplace.
We had a light snow the first night but not enough to affect anything. The second night we got about six inches of snow and Williamsburg officially closed due to the winter weather. Despite the closure of all the exhibits we enjoyed the beauty of Williamsburg in the snow. Colonial Williamsburg was great during the closure. We were offered a room upgrade to Williamsburg Inn, which we declined. And that evening an employee stopped in to start the fire in the fireplace. Here’s a couple photos of Williamsburg in the snow.