So, once again we headed to Chicago – this time with the family – for our yearly traditional visit.
I have noticed this about me. I have an incredible attention span when it comes to certain activities (and this was true when I was a kid, too). I like to watch horse shows. I like to sit on the pier and watch fishing boats come in.
And I like to watch glassmaking.
Jamestown is a good place to do that (the glassmaking part).
Glassmaking was a prosperous business in England, so the officials of the London Company figured glassmaking would also be a prosperous occupation in the new world. The company made sure glassmaking experts were among the settlers – in fact 8 of the 70 were glassmakers.
In 1608, just one year after the colonists arrived, a glass factory was in operation – the very first factory in the country. The factory was in the woods, about a mile from town and at first seemed to be the answer to the colonists prospering. Although there is indication that the factory was in operation for at least six months, the details then disappear. But twelve years later, another glass factory was started – this time with expert Italian glass workers. Captain William Norton was behind this one and he wrote to the London Company with permission to “sett upp a Glasse furnace and make all manner of Beads & Glasse.”
But the Italians and the Englishmen didn’t get along too well. Then the glasshouse blew down, then there was war, then the Italians got sick. So that didn’t work too well, either.
However, the glass house does produce glass today. Archaeological excavations found the foundation of the furnace and fragments of green glass. The glasshouse today is near the original site on Glasshouse Point and is in operation for visitors to watch glass being made and formed.
I remember watching the glassmaking last time we were there – and have a green piece of glasswork (stamped with the Jamestowne logo) sitting on my shelve from that visit. It was no less fascinating this time.
KID FACTOR: I think a lot of kids – both little kids and teens would find this fascinating, but I know a lot of kids unfortunately get “bored” with anything. I would have kids watch at least one piece of glass being made (from beginning to end). Not only is it interesting, it’s educational. Then maybe buy then an inexpensive souvenir from the glass shop.
Seems sad to be writing about Jamestown on this Sunday when they are being drenched with Hurricane Sandy. In fact, this is the notice on their website.
CLOSURE ALERT: Due to the anticipated storm, Historic Jamestowne will be closed to the public on Sunday, 10/28, and Monday, 10/29. The Dale House Café will close at 2 pm on Saturday, 10/27 and will remain closed through Monday. Historic Jamestowne will reopen once storm damage assessments and cleanup have been completed. The Colonial Parkway will remain open, however motorists should be aware that downed trees may ultimately make the scenic byway impassable.
The Historic Triangle Shuttle and Jamestown Area Shuttle will not operate on Sunday or Monday.
The Colonial Parkway is a beautiful road, umbrella-ed by oaks, maples and other tall, leafy trees … hopefully not too many of them will be damaged.
Again, the day we were there – just a few weeks ago, the weather was beautiful. We enjoyed lunch right on the site at the Dale House Cafe which had sort of cutesy Jamestown names like Old Dominion, John Rolfe stew, Lady Nelson Quiche, etc. I think I had the roast turkey/cranberry sandwich (Oops! I mean the U.S. Grant), I don’t remember for sure.
What I do remember is sitting out on the patio, watching the boats go down the James River.
The view from our table …
Even though the first five people we talked to were clueless about the sand sculptures, we were determined.
Finally someone directed us to the end of the board walk where we found a huge tent AND a lot of people.
The “master” sand sculptures were protected inside the tent and it did cost us a few dollars to enter, but worth it to see something unique.
Sculptors from 10 countries were represented and the prize money is the largest awarded for this type of competition in the US, but I have no idea what that amount is.
The lighting was challenging – the sides of the tent were open and rain was falling intermittently so everything was overcast – and since I knew I would not be saving any of these pictures other than for the blog – I just went with it.
I wanted you to have a look at the unbelievably intricate work.
So have a look.
I had asked one of the leaders at the conference where a good public beach was located so that we could drive down on Sunday morning. She said, “Oh, Virginia Beach is the best.” A leader standing nearby agreed and then excitedly added that we would hit the last day of the Neptune Festival. “You’ll get to see the sand sculptures.”
We didn’t know what the Neptune Festival was, but the sand sculpture part sounded good.
So early the next morning (well, about 3:a.m., but that’s a whole other story), we headed out. We dropped B. from Headquarters at the airport and then headed south toward Virginia Beach. We did a Starbucks run and put in a CD of Dr. Jeremiah for our mobile church service and drove through unfamiliar streets and towns.
And found the beach. And the festival. And the ocean.
But the first five people we asked had no idea where any sand sculptures would be.
First things first. Although the night before Barb had seen lights reflecting in the ocean – this was the first true look and we needed to find a place where she could dip her toes.
On the morning of April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee realized that he had a problem. His army could go no further.
Meanwhile, a short distance away, General Grant was riding toward Appomattox Court House where his men had stopped the onslaught of Confederate soldiers. So, Lee (not having a smart phone) sent a letter asking General Grant if they could meet and discuss the surrender of his army.
Grant had a horrible headache that morning, but later said that once he read Lee’s letter, the headache instantly went away. He wrote back to Lee promising he would do what he could to get to the front of his lines to meet with him. But he said that Lee could choose the place.
Lee’s aides rode back to find Lee and deliver Grant’s reply. Lee was sitting under an apple tree next to the Appomattox River. Together, Lee and his aides rode further to find a good place for a meeting … and came upon the sleepy little village of Appomattox Court House then known as Clover Hill. The village didn’t consist of much more than a few houses and businesses around the tavern.
But in that sleepy little village history was made.
The Village itself is called Appomattox Court House – but this building actually WAS the courthouse itself. Now, a new Appomattox Court House is in the nearby “new” town of Appomattox. The new Appomattox Court House in Appomattox is used for county records as is any modern-day court house.
Appomattox Court House in Appomattox Court House is used as a visitor’s center for the Appomattox Court House National Historic Site.
Are you confused?
Here is the old courthouse.