Colonial Williamsburg will celebrate its newest reconstruction with the grand opening of the Arsenal of Revolution: James Anderson Public Armoury. The grand opening will be celebrated on November 16 as they open the doors for history buffs to enjoy revolutionary history first hand.
The Armoury is located within the industrial complex, which houses a blacksmith shop, armoury, tinshop, kitchen, workshop, and various outbuildings. This reconstructed historical site is based on extensive archaeological and documentary research.
It Started as the Blacksmith Shop
Back in 1776, James Anderson was the public armourer for the newly formed Commonwealth of Virginia. During the early years of the war he was a blacksmith but expanded his small commercial site to become the Public Armoury.
During the war, he retained more than 40 men to work for him. This included apprentices, journeymen, soldiers, skilled slaves, and prisoners of war. All of these workers were fed from the site’s kitchen.
Now guests will have the opportunity to watch the blacksmith take red-hot iron from the fire of his forge and, with hammer in hand, beat it into a variety of tools, hardware, and weapons just like they did back them. Along the way you’ll pick up other bits of trivia, like how sometimes a file was as important a tool as the hammer and anvil.
On certain days, guests also have the opportunity to enjoy cooking demonstrations at the site’s kitchen.
Other Places to See
The Armoury joins several other historic sites that have stood in Williamsburg since the 18th century. Visit the Courthouse, Magazine, and George Wythe House or stop by the Capitol and Governor’s Palace which have been reconstructed on their original foundations.
Hands-On Fun for the Kids
Williamsburg also offers hand-on fun for the kids, too. For instance, during the summer months they can learn how to become brickmakers who mold and dry bricks by taking off their shoes and stomping water into the clay with bare feet.
Kids who visit in the fall will get to help bake bricks in a wood-fired oven called a clamp. This is just one skill they have the chance to experience. Kids can also learn about carpentry, gardening and more.
Check their website for more information.