Governor's Palace (Williamsburg, Virginia)
The Governor's Palace from Palace Green
|Architectural style:||Colonial Revival|
|Governing body:||Colonial Williamsburg|
|Part of:||Williamsburg Historic District (#66000925)|
|Added to NRHP:||October 15, 1966|
The Governor's Palace in Williamsburg, Virginia was the official residence of the Royal Governors of the Colony of Virginia. It was also a home for two of Virginia's post-colonial governors, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, until the capital was moved to Richmond in 1780, and with it the Governor's residence. The main house burned down in 1781, though the outbuildings survived for some time after.
The Governor's Palace was reconstructed in the 1930s on its original site. It is one of the two largest buildings at Colonial Williamsburg, the other being the Capitol.
The possible architectural influence of the Governor's Palace, could be from Nether Lypiatt Manor, Gloucestershire, England which was built between 1702-1705, as both buildings look remarkably similar.
During a large portion of the period Williamsburg was the capital of the Virginia Colony (1699 to 1780), the Governor's Palace was the official residence of the royal governor. Funded by the Assembly in 1706, it was built from 1706 onward. In 1710, its first official resident, Lt. Governor Alexander Spotswood continued to improve up it until ca. 1720-1722, adding the forecourt, gardens, and various decorations.
The seven governors who lived in the original palace included:
- Alexander Spotswood
- Francis Fauquier
- Norborne Berkeley, Baron de Botetourt
- Hugh Drysdale
- William Gooch
- Robert Dinwiddie
- John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore
It was also home to the post-colonial governors:
It was the last resident, Thomas Jefferson, who urged that the capital of Virginia be relocated to Richmond in 1780 for security reasons during the American Revolution. The new lodging for the governor adjacent to the current Virginia State Capitol building in Richmond is more modest in size and style, and is called the Governor's Mansion.
Through the efforts of Reverend Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin, rector of Bruton Parish Church and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr., whose family provided major funding, the elaborate and ornate palace was carefully recreated in the early 20th century. Artifacts, Jefferson's drawings, Virginia General Assembly records, and a copperplate engraving, nicknamed the Bodleian Plate discovered in England's Bodleian Library in 1929, were employed in faithful reconstruction of the original buildings. They opened as an exhibition on April 23, 1934.
- Wilson, Richard Guy (2002). Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 368. ISBN 0-19-515206-9.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- Brownell, Charles E (1992). The Making of Virginia Architecture. Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. p. 13. ISBN 0-917046-33-1.
- Olmert, Michael (1985). Official Guide to Colonial Williamsburg. Williamsburg, Virginia: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. pp. 72–81. ISBN 0-87935-111-X.