I spent a few days in Colonial Williamsburg, arriving with the snow storm on Christmas afternoon. While you were all ho-ho-ho-ing over Christmas dinners the property had shut down food service and I was microwaving a nearby convenience store tub of beef stew in my room and thankful for it.  By the next morning there was six inches and it was still coming down hard and would continue through the day and that night.
I had been wondering what I might be able to photograph that would be new as I’ve visited there many times. The snow was my answer, giving everything a new veneer. There were few of us brave enough to be out, some naturally.

First on my list for the day had been an organ recital at the 1715 Bruton Parish church. Hah! Closed up tighter than a drum. Well, all right. Next was to be a colonial sermon at the Wren Chapel of William & Mary. Again, Hah! Get your guidance somewhere else today.
So, I wandered about the Palace Green. I stopped at my favorite CW house, the Georgian Architecture George Wythe house, circa 1752. Wythe was the first law professor (William & Mary) in the United States, mentoring, notably, a young Thomas Jefferson, and, later, John Marshal, future chief justice. Wythe was one of six Virginians to sign the Declaration of Independence.  


The picture on the left was taken of the house in December 2008.  The one on the right was taken of the docents inviting me in last week. On such a slow day the docents were happy to see me and to let me wander from room to room at my leisure and to discuss pieces in detail. It was a privilege. 

The Wythe Dining Room

The green in the dining room above is similar to the verdigris green that appears in Mount Vernon’s small dining room, a popular shade in colonial times. Washington probably felt at home at the Wythe house where he headquartered before the siege of Yorktown.

I resumed my walk in the snowstorm, joining other hardy souls. There was good feeling between us all as we jointly endured adversity.

I then retreated to the excellent café in the excellent Dewitt Wallace Museum of colonial furniture and furnishings, glassware, porcelains, money and arms. The café was a civilized spot for a bowl of soup and a glass of Merlot while enjoying their annual tree. 

In the Museum Cafe

Other items of interest during my visit included a chat with enactor Ms. Coamma who described herself as a free negro and reminisced about local life and the foibles of the Governor and others of the town. She’s seen sitting in front of a fire in an out building of the Peyton Randolph house. The fire had not been lit long and I could see her breath as she spoke.

The all natural Williamsburg Christmas decorations are an important part of the holiday and are a matter of competition amongst the residents. The traditional apple and pineapple spray had taken a beating from the melting snow turning into icicles. The window-corner spray, simple but appealing, featured a sunflower, a dried lotus blossom and onions.

,Finally, at night there are strollers wandering down Duke of Gloucester Street and patronizing the CW restaurants. Here is Tarpley’s store, closed for the day but still offering its goods for passers-by to be tempted to buy tomorrow. 

Tarpley's Store

 For some additional images from my visit, please click here.


  1. Linda Kamholz Says:


    My vote is for Tarpley’s store — looks cozy and snug!

  2. Del Cannon Says:

    You photographers have all the power. Ordering up a snow storm is something else. How did you do it?

    I’ll bet things were a bit tougher in colonial times. No microwave.

  3. Kathleen Lapergola Says:

    Wonderful story and fantastic photography!!! You have a gift. Glad your back safe and sound.

  4. denisebushphoto Says:

    A great collection of photos Ralph! My favorites are the lady with the umbrella and Tarpley’s Store.

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Thanks, Denise. I really was pleased with Tarpley’s and I liked the umbrella shot as well. I saw her coming, struggling in the snow, and I thought here’s a money shot. At first I was disappointed about the umbrella (not 18th C.) but later I decided it made the picture.

  5. Leah Margaret Barone Says:

    Rallph, thanx so much for sharing..I have enjoyed this on a snowed in day.

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