The Glasshouse

One of my favorite places to visit in the Historic Jamestowne part of the settlement is the Glasshouse.

Back in 1607 when Jamestowne was first established, the Glasshouse was one of the first attempts to start an industry in the New World. Everything they needed: fuel, sand, etc. was there in abundance. They just needed people who knew how to actually make the glass.

In 1608 another ship arrived and this one had eight German and Polish craftsman who knew how to make the glass and the Glasshouse was in business. But the Glasshouse was not successful, though it struggled alone for a few years.

Again in 1622, a Glasshouse was established, this time with Italian artisans. But again it failed.

Then in 1948, the furnaces were rediscovered. A new facility was constructed from the excavated ruins. Now, once again, glass is blown in Jamestowne by modern artists who make glass as they did almost 400 years ago.

Watching glassblowing has always, always fascinated me … as it did this time.

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Jamestown Settlement

Jamestown has two separate areas for visitors to enjoy.

One area is where the settlement was actually located with ruins of various buildings in a parklike area.

The second area is a settlement reproduction with replicated buildings, villagers in period customs, authentic activities such as cooking over an open fire, working on a ship and building a canoe … all making the English colony come to life.

If you’re traveling with kids, I definitely recommend the village. You can wander through the buildings, talking to the “village people,” go on the boats and if you’re lucky (like I was), be taught how to make a knot that the sailors used.

The settlement site has a lot of room to run, and is in a beautiful location right on the shore of the James River. Older kids might enjoy the history aspect of it – but I think younger kids would enjoy the village more.

And this is the truth. If I would get these posts up sooner than four months after I’ve been somewhere – I would do a much better job remembering details.

Here are some pictures of the village.

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The church
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One of the houses.
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Looking out at the village.
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The ship.
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Another ship picture
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And another
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Learning to tie a knot which I could do while he was teaching me, but could not replicate it for you now.
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Another part of the village.
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Inside
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Building a canoe – which was interesting to watch.
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Another canoe building pic.

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Shields Tavern

I have been to Williamsburg several times, but have never had the opportunity to eat in one of the taverns/restaurants on Duke of Gloucester Street. This time we decided to do it.

Shields Tavern was opened in 1705 and given the name Marot’s Ordinary. John Marot was the owner. Not only was there a place to eat, but also dry goods and a garden room. Often travelers stopped there to socialize.

Seventeen hundred and five is a long time ago. The building has gone through several renovations, but it is still on the same site and still serving food … an historical aesthetic.

We parked and walked down the street (you can’t drive on it), just as dusk was settling over the town. We were led downstairs to the basement which was lit by candlelight including a lantern at our table. Our server was in custom and very pleasant. I ordered the ale-potted beef (a delicious beef stew) because it sounded very colonial to me.

Expensive, so not a place I would go to every week, but for a once-in-a-lifetime treat, not bad. I mean, I’ve been to Williamsburg at least six times and this was the only time I got to eat on Gloucester Street. Hey! That has a nice ring to it, I could write some poetry.)

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A very old tavern – opened in 1705

 

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View from our table.
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View at our table.
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My ale potted-beef

 

Assateague Light

The next morninth-1g we headed out in the cloudiness to Assateague Island and the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge – to see some horses. But first we topped at the Assateague Light – a 142 foot tall lighthouse on Assateague.  The lighthouse was built in 1867 and is still in use. Hidden in some trees, we walked down a wooded path and then – there it was. The lighthouse was featured on the 2003-2004 Federal Duck Stamp – as pictured here. Although the day was dreary, we were able to go to the top and get some pictures of the island.

APPOMATOX MANOR

Early morning. Hopewell, Virginia.

We headed to Appomattox Manor, a former plantation. During the battle of Petersburg, the the manor became the Union Headquarters. The house sits on a point where the James River and the Appomattox River come together.

The home was owned by Dr. Richard Eppes. When the war started, he joined the Confederates to become a surgeon at the Petersburg Hospital. His family stayed until the Union army took over (1861) and then they fled to a safer place. When the war came to Petersburg, they left again – this time to Philadelphia.

When Dr. Eppes came back after the war, he found his house ruined and the plantation destroyed. His family was not able to come back until 1866.

We wandered around, but there was a limit what we could do because the house was under construction and a lot of workers were on scaffolds and ladders.   But still interesting and a fun walk.
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THE GLASS HOUSE

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.

 

 

 

DALE HOUSE CAFE

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 …

SUNDAY MORNING ON THE OCEAN SHORE

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.

IN MY YARD, IN MY PARLOR

As Lee’s aides were looking around for a place for the Grant/Lee meeting  they happened upon a resident of the town: Wilmer McLean who was working in his yard. They asked Mr. McLean if he knew of a good place for an important meeting and he led them to a small, uninhabited, unfurnished structure. When they told Mr. McLean the structure wouldn’t work – he said they could use the parlor of his home. When seeing that the home was well-furnished and comfortable, they agreed and went to find Lee to tell him a place had been found.

But let’s backtrack here. There is an interesting twist to the story.

Back in July of 1861, about 120 miles south of Appomattox, the McLean family owned a plantation in the town of Manassas, Virginia. The conflict between the states was escalating and Mr. McLean, offered his home to General P. G. T. Beauregard as headquarters. A cannonball was fired at the house. The ball went down the fireplace and as Beauregard himself wrote, “A comical effect of this artillery fight was the destruction of the dinner of myself and staff by a Federal shell that fell into the fireplace of my HQ at the McLean House.” This was the First Battle of Bull Run (one of the first Civil War battles) and it took place on McLean’s farm – yes, the very same man. Mr. McLean, a grocer by trade, decided to protect his family and moved them north to Appomattox County.

And now the final agreement would be signed in his house.

Giving Mr.McLean the distinction of having the Civil War start in his front yard and end in his parlor.

General Lee showed up about 1:00 and waited in McLean’s home. Thirty minutes later Grant arrived. For 25 minutes they chatted (yes, chatted) with neither of them talking about the reason why they were there. They discussed a former time they had met during the Mexican War and the conversation was polite and friendly. Finally, Lee got to the point. Grant said he would hold to the terms he had set in an earlier letter. (Grant later said he was embarrassed to bring up the subject of Lee’s defeat.)

The war had been ugly. The war divided a nation, friends and family. The war was unthinkable.

Yet, here at the end, both men acted with grace and simplicity. According to the Appomattox website – Grant showed “compassion and generosity.” Lee understood “that the best course was for his men to return home and resume their lives as American citizens.”

Lee did not offer his sword (as was customary) and Grant did not ask for it.

Again from the site’s web account: “The character of both Lee and Grant was of such a high order that the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia has been called “The Gentlemen’s Agreement.”


I stand on the steps of the McLean House and ponder the events that happened within the walls.

Although some of the buildings in the historic site are original – McLean’s house is not. It was taken down to move it somewhere else and then reconstructed.

The road in front of the house. Can’t you imagine Grant riding out of the woods?

The table where in the agreement was signed – actually a replica of the table where the agreement was signed.  Lee sat here.

Grant sat here.