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George Wythe House

by habituallychic

02 . 27 . 20

I spent a very busy summer traveling last year. So busy in fact that I still haven’t even had a chance to go through all my photos. I had been thinking about finally getting to them and starting with a post on the George Wythe House in Colonial Williamsburg when interior designer Caroline Gidiere mentioned it as one of her inspirations for her house in Alabama. It couldn’t be better timing and the Georgian architecture of the 18th-century house also relates back to my posts on the movie Emma this past week. I was shocked to see how much color was in the house. Because it was acquired in the late 1930’s and furnished to look as it might have when George and Elizabeth Wythe resided in it in the 1700s, the bright hued paint and wallpaper have not faded.

“The George Wythe House on Palace Green belonged to George Wythe (pronounced “with”), a leader of the patriot movement in Virginia, a delegate to the Continental Congress, and Virginia’s first signer of the Declaration of Independence. The house also served as General George Washington’s headquarters just before the British siege of Yorktown, and French General Rochambeau made the home his headquarters after victory at Yorktown. In 1776, the house accommodated Virginia General Assembly delegate Thomas Jefferson and his family.”

“Perhaps the most handsome colonial house in Williamsburg, the two-story brick residence is believed to have been designed in the mid-1750s by George Wythe’s father-in-law, the surveyor, builder, and planter Richard Taliaferro (pronounced “Tolliver”). Taliaferro built the addition to the Governor’s Palace about the same time.”

– Colonial Williamsburg

I didn’t grow up visiting Colonial Williamsburg and I was disappointed by that fact after I saw the historic area. If you are an interior designer who has not seen it either, I would highly recommend a pilgrimage for architecture and design inspiration.

Instead of entering in the front door as any visitor to the George Wythe House would have done originally, you are now asked to enter around the back of the house. This is a little confusing as you don’t first see the public rooms that guests would have seen upon arrival.

This is the only photo I didn’t take because I didn’t take this angle of the house.

Someone should use that fence as inspiration for a new one.

I learned from a post on the @explorecharleston Instagram account that “prior to the Revolution, Windsor chairs in America were predominantly painted the verdigris green pictured here. Over a period of approximately five years, verdigris oxidizes and turns black. When the chairs needed a fresh coat of paint, they were typically painted black instead of green. Thus, the preponderance of black Windsor chairs in early American decorative arts.”

Some of the older actor-interpreters at Colonial Williamsburg really get into their roles which help you get a sense of the time period you might not just by looking at the rooms.

A seat upholstered in horse hair for durability.

Every time I romanticize the 18th-century, the toilet situation brings me back to reality. I definitely enjoy indoor plumbing and hot showers.

Photos by Heather Clawson for Habitually Chic.