Giving the Raleigh Tavern its long-lost porch required knowledge and expertise from throughout The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
After years of research, a summer archaeological dig and months of design planning overseen by historians, archaeologists, architects and engineers, construction began earlier this year with help from the skilled hands of traditional and more modern trades.
Through the summer, guests could watch the progress as the Historic Trades carpenters constructed the porch frame, the masons fired the bricks, the joiners built the interior panels and portions of the cornice molding and the blacksmiths forged the nails, railings and other necessary hardware — all at their trade shops in the Historic Area.
At the same time, the facilities maintenance staff took on much of the work done at the Raleigh Tavern site. Facilities masons demolished the tavern’s front steps and took down and then reapplied the interior plaster; carpenters removed the interior woodwork, moved the windows and placed the siding; staff from the millwork, mechanical maintenance, paint and support departments provided interior woodwork and siding, moved utilities, upgraded the electrical system, painted and excavated the building.
“Just like in the 18th century, the town’s craftsmen came together to construct the Raleigh porch,” said Matt Webster, Colonial Williamsburg’s director of architectural preservation. “The project was truly a group effort pulling from the dedicated, diverse and skilled trades at Colonial Williamsburg."
Ted Boscana, a master joiner, works on paneling for the Raleigh Tavern porch project. (Darnell Vennie/Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)
Colonial Williamsburg is the only place in the world where 18th-century rifles are replicated using Colonial-era tools. The shop’s three gunsmiths must master the tricks of the various trades that constitute gunsmithing.
A center of commerce, politics and education in the 18th century, Williamsburg became a necessary destination for anyone looking to do any manner of business with Virginia. That included the American Indian nations.