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March 5, 2013 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County & Colonial Williamsburg

CW_Governor's Palace

What does Buckingham County have to do with Colonial Williamsburg?

I’ve been told by at least one Buckingham cousin that during the 1930s, representatives from Colonial Williamsburg came to the county offering “good money” for mature boxwood.  It was the Great Depression and times were tough.  At least one cousin sold his giant boxwood to help establish the gardens at the Governor’s Palace.

Does your family have similar stories?

“A Williamsburg Perspective on Colonial Gardens” (The Gardens of Colonial Williamsburg) M. Kent Brinkley and Gordon W. Chappell begin with the following:

The story of the beginning of Williamsburg’s restoration is well documented in the annals of the American preservation movement. In 1926, Dr. W. A. R. Goodwin, then the rector of Bruton Parish Church, was able to fire the imagination and enthusiasm of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Rockefeller agreed to finance Dr. Goodwin’s vision of returning the city of Williamsburg to its eighteenth-century appearance. From the very beginning, Williamsburg’s restorers appreciated the importance of reconstructing the gardens and greens, as well as the houses and shops.

CW_Governor's Palace Gardens

After World War I, a renewed interest by the American public in our colonial past began to give rise to the preservation of old homes and the veneration of all things “colonial.” American history teaching became focused on the “Founding Fathers” with decidedly nationalistic and patriotic enthusiasm. Historic sites and house museums followed this trend, combining a unique blend of historical evidence and nostalgia to make the colonial past more appealing and attractive. This period has become known as “colonial revival” in the preservation movement as well as in decorative arts and design. Thus, these period gardens are considered to be colonial revival since they present a 1930s and 1940s view of our past created in spite of mounting evidence that most colonial gardens were simple, functional, and even somewhat bare.

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  1. Harry Stuart Holman / Mar 5 2013 6:22 pm

    Dear Reader:

    We have a connection with The Rev. Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin of Colonial Williamsburg fame and Buckingham County. He is connected with one of our communicants of Trinity Presbyterian Church, New Canton. The member is Mrs. Louisa Cocke of “Bremo,” Fluvanna County (mentioned in an earlier post). She was the wife of the noted reformer and U.Va. Founder, Gen. John Hartwell Cocke (1780-1866). By a former marriage, he was the father of Gen. Philip St. George Cocke of “Belmead,” Powhatan County, noted Confederate general who served conspicuously at the Battle of First Bull Run. Amongst his eleven children was William Ruffin Coleman Cocke (b. 1846)–hero of the Battle of New Market. He was the father of William Ruffin Coleman Cocke, Jr., whose daughter Alice Barraud Cocke (1920-2010) married Edward H. Goodwin, son of The Rev. Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin, Rector of Bruton Parish, Williamsburg, Virginia–the inspiration of the Rockefeller restoration.

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