No history book can compete with your five senses.
Living-history sites offer the rare chance to step into the pages of history and experience the sights, smells and sounds of the nation’s past in a way that textbooks and historical records will never be able to do. History has a way of shaping people’s beliefs and perspectives, and seeing those historic scenes played out through costumed interpreters and hands-on demonstrations can be a path toward deeper understanding of the nation’s core values.
From exploring the nation’s original First Baptist Church to experiencing community through an interactive sewing circle, seeing is believing at these amazing living-history sites across the country.
The dream of American freedom was but a whisper along the streets when the colony of Virginia was first being settled. It wasn’t until 1699 that the village of Williamsburg was declared the capital of Colonial Virginia, marking the beginning of some of the nation’s most formative years. Between 1699 and 1780, Williamsburg was the center of all the action as America was taking shape, acting as the backdrop as ideas like freedom of religion, self-government and individual liberty were forming.
Eventually, the capital moved farther north, but the dreams and history remained in Williamsburg. In 1926, the Rev. W.A.R. Goodwin and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. brought the village back to life by restoring and preserving the Colonial town’s historic buildings. Today, Colonial Williamsburg is the world’s largest living-history museum, recapturing revolutionary America of the 18th century.
“Guests can actually meet the men and women who played a firsthand role in creating the founding principles of the nation we treasure,” said Joseph Straw, public relations manager for Colonial Williamsburg.
Top experiences for church groups include Colonial Williamsburg’s historic trades and living-history sites, where costumed tradespeople share their tools and techniques for making a living during the Colonial times. Visitors also enjoy the two world-class art museums and the face-to-face interaction with the men and women who defined the nation.
Groups can meet familiar founders like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, or other nation builders like the Rev. Gowan Pamphlet, an enslaved and later-free Baptist minister who established the city’s African Church. Now known as the First Baptist Church, it still stands in the Historic Area of Colonial Williamsburg.