Architecture Around the World

Capitol, Williamsburg, Va.

Style: Colonial (Georgian)
1705 design / Reconstructed 1934

Interior Photos

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Interior Photos

Henry Cary, a contractor finishing work on the College of William and Mary's Wren Building (the legislature's temporary home) took charge. He raised a two-story H-shaped structure -- really two buildings connected by an arcade. Each measured 75 feet by 25 feet; their south ends terminated in semicircular apses penetrated by three large round windows.

The first floor of the west building was for the General Court and the colony's secretary, the first floor of the east for the House of Burgesses and its clerk. Arched windows marched across the facades.

Stairs on one side led to the Council Chamber, a lobby, and the Council clerk's office; stairs on the other side led to three committee rooms. A second-floor conference room connected the classically corniced structures, and a six-sided cupola on the ridge of the hipped and dormered roof crowned it all. Though the west wing was completed by July 1703, it took Cary until November 1705 to finish all the work.

The building that stands today is substantially the same as Cary's, but it is the third Capitol on the site.

The building was last used as a capitol on December 24, 1779, when the General Assembly adjourned to reconvene May 1 at the new capital, Richmond. In 1881 the last aboveground traces of the Capitol were removed from the lot.

The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities deeded the grounds to Colonial Williamsburg in 1928, and Colonial Williamsburg reconstructed the Capitol of 1705-1747. The architecture was more interesting than that of the second Capitol, and it was better documented.

Refurnished with the help of 18th-century records, the new Capitol was dedicated with a ceremonial meeting of the General Assembly on February 24, 1934.

- Text source: Colonial Williamsburg: Capitol

Photos and their arrangement © 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
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