National Geographic : 1937 Apr
THE RESTORATION OF COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG also is designated as the information bureau of the Restoration (page 412). The early structural period of the restor ation would have been of absorbing interest to Jefferson could he have then revisited the city. His versatile mind would have found delight in the scope and methods of the work. Ditches, in some places 18 feet deep, were being dug by steam shovels for new water mains and sewerage pipes. Trenches were being made to conceal tele graph and telephone wires. Concrete streets and sidewalks were then giving place to gravel roads and to brick and flagstone sidewalks. In those early days of the restoration one never knew when he went to bed whose house he might meet in the morning mov ing down the street. Sometimes it proved to be a colonial house on its way in to fill a vacant space, but more often it was a modern home exiled from the restoration area. Many visitors, having heard that the co lonial city was to be restored, assumed that within twelve months it would surely be finished. They began to arrive. No suit able place had yet been provided for their accommodation. They found the streets blocked off. They met the houses which were moving out as they moved in. They ran their cars into rain-soaked ditches re cently filled in, or got lost in detouring in efforts to get somewhere and see things not yet existent. Language was heard that desecrated the "serene and temperate air" which, in co lonial days, was said to have constituted a great advantage of this place. 459 BUILDINGS DEMOLISHED The restoration project has now been in progress for more than nine years. Dur ing this time it is officially stated that in addition to the three colonial buildings at the College, 67 buildings have been re stored. Ninety-one colonial buildings have been reconstructed, 18 modern buildings have been moved from the restoration area and set up elsewhere, and 459 modern buildings have been demolished. This procedure was made necessary to get rid of the corrugated iron buildings and other incongruous structures by which the colonial city had been modernized and spoiled. Two blocks of new business build ings of a colonial style of architecture, con taining 13 shops, a bank, and a post office, have been erected, adjoining the restored area. Not including the labor spent in manu facturing and transporting material, nearly five million man hours of labor have gone into the restoration endeavor. In carrying forward the work it has been necessary to have important dealings with the National Government, with the Gover nor of Virginia, the State Legislature, and with various departments of the State Gov ernment. Contract agreements had to be entered into with the governmental author ities of the city of Williamsburg and the County of James City, and also with various State and local institutions and public util ity and public service corporations, as well as with various State and local associations. In every instance a splendid spirit of co operation was manifested. THE FIRST TREES AND FLOWERS OF VIRGINIA Restoration of the gardens also called for extensive research work. Because of the ravages of war and consequent poverty and neglect, the form and outline of most of the colonial gardens had vanished. More than one hundred colonial gardens of note in Virginia were visited, measured, and photo graphed, and extensive research was done in the contemporaneous gardens of Eng land. From old maps and photographs and by archeological investigation, old paths in many instances were located, revealing the form and dimensions of the original gardens. The ancestry of every tree, flower, and shrub supposed to have lived in colonial Williamsburg was investigated and only those of proved pedigree have been trans planted or allowed to survive. If, in the course of evolution, flowers, shrubs, and trees should develop into conscious pride of ancestry, then they will surely convene in Williamsburg and elect Arthur A. Shurcliff, landscape architect, patron saint of their colonial genealogical society! The spaciousness and variety of the re vived gardens give to the buildings restored an environment of charm and quiet loveli ness. This is especially true of the formal and terraced Palace gardens (Plate IX). The infallible rule of the Restoration prohibited moving any boxwood, houses, or building materials from any except deserted places, it being felt that no justification could exist for despoiling other homes to restore colonial Williamsburg.