What do an eighteenth-century invoice, a circus lion, a boat etched on a window pane, wallpaper fragments, dendrochronology samples, and a 1952 Antiques Forum program have in common? They are all pieces of the remarkable history of the Thomas Everard House that are part of Colonial Williamsburg’s museum and library collections.
2018 marks a significant milestone for the building – its three-hundredth anniversary. Located to the right of the Governor’s Palace on Palace Green, the residence was among a small group of structures comprising the new town of Williamsburg by the end of the second decade of the eighteenth century. It is considered one of the oldest houses in Williamsburg and was selected for restoration in the early 1950s as an example of a middle class home representative of the life of ordinary town citizens.
Over the course of the next few months, visitors to Colonial Williamsburg can take part in a number of special observances for the Everard House’s tercentennial. One is a series of tours at the site led by members of the curatorial, archaeological, and architectural preservation and research staff who share their in-depth knowledge of the house’s restoration process, and its archaeology, interior furnishings, and three centuries of residents. In addition, visitors may see archaeological artifacts unearthed at the Everard site by taking the tour “Rubbish, Treasures, and Colonial Life: The Archaeology Labs.”
Another way to commemorate the house’s anniversary is by visiting the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library’s exhibit “Thomas Everard House Celebrates 300 Years.” The exhibit covers each century of the house’s history through displays of objects from Special Collections, Visual Resources, Corporate Archives, and Architectural Preservation and Research. Beginning with eighteenth-century manuscripts relating to resident Thomas Everard, the first case features invoices and accounts, a letter in the hand of Everard, along with an example of a book from his library.
The nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are represented by photographs, letters, postcards, and a book relating to the era when Cora and Estelle Smith operated a boarding house at the site, received a surprise visit from an escaped circus lion, and drew upon the popularity of the house’s association with Mary Johnston’s novel “Audrey.” Architectural changes to the house over the course of the nineteenth century are also explored, as are the stories surrounding two window panes etched with artwork and phrases by different residents. Next the official opening of the house as an exhibition building on January 21, 1952, its debut during the 1952 Antiques Forum, and development of interpretation at the site are documented through photographs, news clippings, programs, and even an early admission ticket. Finally, the meticulous process of restoring the building is illustrated through original architectural sketches, photographs, paint and dendrochronology samples, and a memo outlining the rationale for its restoration.
All of the objects on display illustrate the large array of fascinating research materials available at the library relating to specific building sites in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area. Researchers interested in learning more about the history, architecture, archaeology, and landscape connected with a particular building can access this wealth of resources. In addition to serving Colonial Williamsburg employees and College of William & Mary professors and students, the Rockefeller Library is open to the general public on an appointment basis. Anyone may schedule an appointment to make use of the library’s resources by calling 757-220-7249 for reference and circulating collections, 757-565-8520 for Special Collections, 757-565-8542 for Visual Resources, and 757-220-7249 for Corporate Archives.
The Rockefeller Library is located at 313 First Street in the Bruton Heights School Education Center. It is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Appointments are not necessary to view the exhibit but visitors must ring the doorbell at the front entrance to gain admittance. The exhibit will be on view through August 31, 2018. Come celebrate the Everard House’s birthday with us!