The Corporate Town

The Duke of Gloucester Street prior to the Restoration.

The Guide to the Old Dominion describes Williamsburg in the interim between its eighteenth-century heyday and its restoration as an historic shrine as, "a straggling, dusty ghost." By most accounts, this little ghost town was reincarnated by the benevolent J.D. Rockefeller, Jr., much to the benefit of generations of residents and visitors to come.

And yet Williamsburg was not dead or deserted like the ghost towns of the Old West; the reconstruction the colonial sites did not occur in a vacuum. People were living and working in what is now the Restored Area. Not only the landscape but also the life of Williamsburg was transformed. To understand how the metamorphosis of a modern town back to its colonial past affected the lives of its inhabitants, we must first have a picture of what life was like in Williamsburg. Then we can understand their reactions to the plans of Goodwin and Rockefeller and the ramifications of turning Williamsburg into a corporate town.


Introduction|| "500 Lazies and 500 Crazies": Williamsburg Before the Restoration|| Reactions: Congratulations and Controversy|| Ramifications: Capitalizing on the Depression

Colonial Williamsburg: From Concept to Construct|| The South in the Depression and the WPA Guide to the Old Dominion