I WOULD HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS DELIGHTFUL PROGRAM TO ANYONE.
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Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.
Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.
Afternoon: Program Registration. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, other important information, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. All classes and performances will take place at the hotel unless otherwise specified. We’ll select some meals in advance. Unless noted otherwise, transportation will be primarily by motorcoach, necessitating going up/down a few steps. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful, rewarding, and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
Dinner: In our private dining area at the hotel, enjoy a supper with choice of two entrées, a variety of side dishes changing each evening, dessert, and coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: A local expert will join us for a presentation introducing Williamsburg, Colonial Williamsburg, and the history of Virginia's second capital. We’ll learn about the town’s history from its beginnings when the colonial capital moved from Jamestown to Middle Plantation. Following its growth through the 18th century to its height during the Revolution, we’ll then trace its decline with the removal of the capital to Richmond, leaving little more than the College and the hospital for the insane. Finally, we’ll gain an appreciation for its phoenix-like rise in the early 20th century thanks to vision of a local minister and the generosity of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., resulting in today’s treasure of colonial American interpretation. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking about 2 miles on cobblestone, pebble, and brick paths; on our feet approximately 2 hours; few opportunities to sit and rest.
Breakfast: In our private dining area, start the day with a breakfast buffet offering choices such as eggs, breakfast meats, cereals, sides, breads, seasonal fruit, milk, juices, coffee, tea, water.
Morning: We’ll join “the Lady of the House” in our hotel classroom to examine the art of English table ornamentation. We will discuss levels of society, protocol and etiquette, job duties, appropriate behavior, and social expectations of the colonial period. We also have a “hands on” session in small groups: studying archival images, dressing the table, creating flower arrangements, making the fruit displays, folding napkins, and more. We’ll hop aboard a motorcoach and ride to Colonial Williamsburg, then walk the length of historic Duke of Gloucester Street in the company of a local expert. We’ll focus on the homes, shops, and public buildings while, at the same time, investigate the remarkable decorations that adorn those buildings. Our expert will describe historical local events and the roles of average townspeople while also teaching us about the materials and techniques used to create the wreaths and sprays.
Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated and served meal with choice of entrée, dessert, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: Continuing on foot, we’ll reach Bruton Parish Church in the Restored Area for a private visit led by a local historian and church member. Bruton traces its roots to an unnamed parish of 1633, with the current name adopted in 1674, upon the consolidation of several older parishes. The present church was completed in 1715, although it has undergone many alterations, including a reversion to its colonial glory during the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg. Our expert will outline the history of the church itself, along with the building's architecture and how it changed over the centuries. At the conclusion of our field trip, we’ll return to the hotel via motorcoach. In our hotel classroom, we will again be joined by the church historian who will detail the importance of religion in the Colonial period. Her discussion will include the religious history of the time and various customs and celebrations of the gentry, the “middling class,” and enslaved populations. Having set the table for a colonial Christmas feast this morning, we will now learn how to dress ourselves for the festivities during the 12 Days of Christmas and the cold winter months. We’ll engage in a conversation with a wardrobe mistress of the past, personified by a talented and knowledgeable costumed interpreter. You will quickly feel that you are transported to another time as you learn how the attendees stayed warm and fashionable whether they were dancing in the Palace Ballroom or their neighbor’s living room. There will be reproduction colonial garments available for hands on examination, plus portraits showing the fashionable silhouette of the time period.
Dinner: At the hotel.
Evening: In the midst of the terrible Civil War, families continued to honor family traditions as best they could. At the same time, soldiers in the field made some attempt to remember the season even as they wrote home of loneliness and hardship. We’ll learn from a Civil War historian about efforts made to maintain some measure of holiday normalcy despite shortages and missing family members. We’ll also examine the similarities of mid-19th century customs with those of today.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking about 2 miles total throughout the day during group activities; limited opportunities to rest. Some building entrances require climbing 3-5 steps.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: With our local expert, we’ll take a more personal look at Yuletide across time by considering the words of people living in Williamsburg during three centuries. We’ll also have an opportunity to share our own family traditions, inherited or newly begun. This look at holiday observances will help tie the old to the new, bringing a deeper and richer meaning to our own holidays. observances. We’ll then take the motorcoach for a field trip to the beautifully restored home used by the Rockefellers on their visits to Williamsburg after they became involved in its restoration. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller called Bassett Hall her "Dream of Dreams" and it is lovingly preserved and decorated for the holidays based on her vision. Led by a docent, we’ll experience some of the holiday atmosphere to which an esteemed family such as the Rockefellers was privy. We’ll then have some time to spend as you like before lunch. You might like to build on the overview of the Historic Area we enjoyed yesterday, interact with interpreters in colonial dress, visit some of the public buildings, and perhaps sample a gingerbread cookie and hot cider along the way. We’ll regroup for a tavern lunch.
Lunch: At Shields Tavern (1745), we’ll enjoy plated meals with salad, entrée, dessert, soft drinks; other beverages available for purchase. In the colonial era, public houses were gathering places for residents and travelers. Though this building has been reconstructed, the atmosphere — though not the contemporary menu — is similar to what patrons such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry would have known. Strolling musicians and personalities from the past enhance the experience.
Afternoon: Next, we’ll board the motorcoach and ride to the historic Wren Building on the campus of the College of William and Mary to attend a concert of colonial and Christmas music performed on the chapel’s 18th century pipe organ, one of the four oldest pipe organs in the U.S. We’ll have a unique opportunity to learn about the instrument from our organist, a talented musician from the staff of the Music Department of the College. We’ll then walk over to the DeWitt-Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. These two wonderful museums feature Colonial Williamsburg's extensive collection of 18th century furnishings and objects of daily living along with an incredible collection of American folk art. After a brief overview of the facilities with a docent, we will have time to explore the galleries on our own. Following our museum visit, we will return to the hotel via motorcoach.
Dinner: At the hotel
Evening: In our hotel classroom, we’ll delight in the wonderful tales and music of a talented entertainer as she takes us on a journey across the years through the eyes of African-Americans, slave and free, as they celebrate Yuletide in Virginia. This engaging performance provides the perspective of the slave and free black families who combined their ancient African traditions with the customs of their masters.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Limited access for those with mobility restrictions; several short flights of stairs involved at each location; at both homes, the grounds can be explored with little difficulty.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: We’ll begin our day with a field trip via motorcoach to Berkeley, the “most historic” of the great river plantations. This is the ancestral home of the Harrisons, who boast a signer of the Declaration of Independence and two presidents among their descendants. We’ll explore this 1726 Georgian mansion with a knowledgeable docent, then have some time to stroll along the extensive grounds on our own. Next, we’ll travel to Shirley, first of the James River plantations, dating to 1613. Here we’ll see original furnishings and portraits from the 18th century owners whose descendants, remarkably, still occupy the home. Both of the homes will be decorated for the holiday season and traditionally serve holiday snacks and cookies. We’ll have time at both sites for individual exploration.
Lunch: In an historic general store converted into a restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal featuring sandwiches, wraps, homemade chips, sweets, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. We’ll return to the hotel via motorcoach.
Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. The Grand Illumination festivities will be underway this afternoon and evening. Please also refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Your Colonial Williamsburg pass will still be valid today. You might also like to explore the Historic Triangle of Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown.
Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Merchant’s Square, within walking distance just beyond the Restored Area, has a number of excellent restaurants with varied cuisine. Additional fine dining is available within easy driving distance.
Evening: At leisure. You may wish to attend one of the numerous concerts, street theater performances, or fireworks that are part of Grand Illumination this evening or just relax at the hotel. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. The 2 historical houses visited today have limited access for those with mobility concerns. The first floors of both houses can be reached with lifts; the other floors are accessible by 15-20 stairs with a landing. Overall, the walking is not extensive.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: We’ll first board our motorcoach for a field trip to Endview Plantation, built in 1769 but more recently restored to its original appearance during the Civil War years. This small farmhouse stands in sharp contrast to the typical picture of an American plantation, though its owner was one of the wealthiest farmers in the county. Moving on, we’ll reach the 1850's Lee Hall Mansion, with its unusual Italianate architecture, and experience a more ostentatious antebellum home. An experienced docent will show us the ladies’ and men’s parlors, along with the private family rooms upstairs. Both Endview and Lee Hall Mansion will be decorated for the holidays in mid-19th century style. Our motor coach will then return us to the hotel for lunch.
Lunch: At the hotel
Afternoon: We will follow lunch with a private performance where we will enjoy the talents of a costumed musician as he plays and explains instruments, both familiar and unusual, of the 18th Century, and hear Christmas music popular in colonial celebrations. Be prepared to join in on a familiar song or two before the performance ends! Having now seen and learned about holiday decorations in a variety of settings, we will have an opportunity to assemble our own table centerpieces. A wide variety of natural materials, candles, and florists' items will be provided for us to work with. Our facilitator, a decorative arts expert, will provide us with many tips and decorating anecdotes as she assists us in creating our “masterpiece.”
Dinner: At a Colonial Williamsburg tavern, we’ll enjoy a 3-course farewell dinner with soup or salad, entrée, dessert, and beverages including coffee, tea, fountain drinks, and wine. We’ll dine in 18th century style as costumed musicians and interpreters stroll through our private dining area. Transportation to/from the tavern will be by motorcoach.
Evening: Returning to the hotel, we will then be honored with a visit from America's first First Lady, Martha Washington, as she reminisces about Yuletides past. She will describe colonial Christmas traditions in town and on the plantation including some stories about her famous husband at home and on the field of battle.
Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: At the hotel, we’ll learn about the foods, tools, and techniques of colonial cooks as we participate in the concoction of a simple but delicious treat of the time under the instruction of a colonial foodways instructor. Not only will we get to assist with the preparation, we will enjoy a sample of this traditional holiday treat. We’ll then delight in the talents of a costumed historical interpreter who will entertain us with music and tales of the common folk. We’ll end our observance of traditional Christmas celebrations together with an appropriate “wassail” toast of hot mulled cider before sharing final farewells. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!
I WOULD HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS DELIGHTFUL PROGRAM TO ANYONE.
The location of the hotel made it easy for me to get in an early morning walk, so I was able to photograph a fabulous sunrise in Williamsburg. Also, free time made it possible to take in a musical presentation at Bruton Church, which was very rewarding.
Great program. The Grand Illumination is a beautiful sight. It makes you feel like you are truly back in time
The Williamsburg program offered more experiences and information than expected. Our tour guide, Christie, truly made this a wonderful and unforgettable experience for all. Her personality was vivacious and she made all feel welcomed and included. She's a keeper!
Williamsburg during the Grand Illumination was G-R-A-N-D!!!! We had perfect weather and enjoyed all the history. It is a must-do!!!!
This was my first tour with Road Scholar and I was not disappointed. The trips to the plantations were especially interesting and I came home feeling I could teach colonial history I learned so much!
Alarming security issues at Best Western Hotel. I was awakened to find that someone was trying to get access to my room. Not only had they managed to open the double locked door but they were trying to force the latch which I had also set before going to sleep. Apparently the hotel had issued someone else a key to my room. This opened my room. This was day 5 of my trip. I feel quite insecure after this incident. Calling the emergency cell phone number of the local person for Road Scholar produced a recorded message. A very poor final night to this program!
Come take this trip - you walk the streets where history was made. One sees how they lived and worked. You experience what it must have been like to have many Union soldiers living in your front yard and you had to move for safety and return to your home and find it demolished or burned. I see why the South relives the Civil War because they live it every day.