Archaeological Dig at the Ravine

The Coffeehouse ravine post-excavation showing natural grade with erosion-cut

Though it has been awhile since we’ve posted anything on the Coffeehouse blog, we wanted to mention that we've recently added a new short article to the site. It’s a synopsis of the recent archaeological work that's been done in the ravine near the Coffeehouse.
Click here to read “Archaeology News at Charlton's Coffeehouse.”

Serving Vessels

We recently received a question from a reader, and though we’re not really updating the blog at this point, I still thought I would post it. The reader was curious about the type of vessels that were used for serving and drinking coffee/chcolate in the 18th-century.

I posed the question to Associate Curator of Textiles & Historic Interiors, who was heavily involved in the Coffeehouse project. Here’s what she had to say:

In the 18th-century, coffeepots were made from pewter, silver, tin, and copper. At Richard Charlton's Coffeehouse, we show reproduction pots that are made of tin and copper. We also have an antique silver coffeepot in the Dining (southeast) room. As for serving chocolate, there are reproduction copper chocolate pots with wooden handles in the Coffee (southwest) room.

Coffee and chocolate were served in a variety of ceramics, from saltglazed stoneware, to creamware, to earthenware, to porcelain. Of particular note at the Coffeehouse are the reproduction Chinese export porcelain coffee cans, which were reproduced based on archaeological shards found on the site.

You may also want to check out a few related links:

Final Reflections

At this, the end of the Coffeehouse Reconstruction, we wanted to share some closing reflections from a few staff members who were involved in the project:

Kim Ivey
Associate Curator, Textiles & Historic Interiors

The reconstruction and furnishing of the Charlton Coffeehouse has truly been a team effort by the Foundation's archaeologists, architects, engineers, historians, carpenters, tradesmen, conservators, and--more recently--the curatorial staff (to name just some of the folks involved.) The curators' goal was for the furnishings and room arrangements to tell a story and to identify the function of each space. We know that we've been successful if a visitor walking into a room immediately recognizes the activities that took place in that space. It was a pleasure and an honor working with so many talented and skilled coworkers.

Jason Whitehead
Supervisor of Historic Masonry Trades

The Coffeehouse has meant a tremendous amount to the Brickyard. It provides a natural connection for folks who visit the Brickyard to find out how bricks, mortar, and plaster are made to a sight where they can see the finished product in use. At the end of an interpretation I often ask people if they have toured the Coffeehouse yet and many of them have. When I tell them that about 10,000 bricks from the Brickyard were used in its reconstruction they are impressed. When I add the fact that much of the mortar and plaster was also made in the Brickyard out of oyster shells burned on site, folks often leave with a new appreciation for the level of authenticity we put in to projects like this one. I am glad to see it finished and I can't wait to start the next building.

Joshua Muse
Associate Digital Content Specialist

The Coffeehouse Reconstruction has been one of the most interesting projects I've worked on here at Colonial Williamsburg, fascinating and exciting throughout, and I feel lucky to have been here during such an eventful process.

The scope of the project has meant that departments who may not have had that much interaction on a regular basis got the chance to work together closely. Personally, it gave me the opportunity to work with a wide variety of staff members from across the Foundation, from Architecture and Engineering, to Historic Trades, to Maintenance, and Marketing, to name but a few. My fellow staff members have shown themselves to be both both knowledgeable and very helpful, and I gained a notably better appreciation for how the various components of the Foundation fit together.

Perhaps more unexpectedly, the Coffeehouse project also brought me into contact with a great number of people from outside the Foundation. Working on the Coffeehouse webcam and blog gave me the opportunity to interact with many enthusiastic members of the public. Though we had planned an online aspect for the project all along, we were still amazed by the level of interest shown in the webcam and blog updates. Better yet, the Internet gave me the chance to correspond with many fans of the project, whether by e-mail or through the blog, and even meet a number of them in person.

As this may well be the last blog update, I wanted to again thank everyone for all of your interest in the Coffeehouse Reconstruction. Your involvement and enthusiasm has made working on the blog and the webcam deeply enjoyable – I appreciated every single e-mail and blog post, even when it was to let me know that the camera was mysteriously dark, or to ask a question whose answer I didn't know. I especially enjoyed those chances to meet some of you in person.

Ultimately, I'd like to thank you for helping to make the Coffeehouse website such a success. I hope that we have started a precedent for future projects of this kind here at Colonial Williamsburg.

Thanks again, and Happy New Year!

The finished interior

Coffeehouse Conversations 11 - A Grand Opening

We've posted the final video in our Coffeehouse Conversations series, which is entitled A Grand Opening. This episode shows the events surrounding the Opening Ceremony for Charlton's Coffeehouse, back on November 20th. It features thoughts on the project's history and goals by Forrest E. Mars, Chairman of the Foundation Board of Trustees Richard G. Tilghman, and Foundation President Colin Campbell.

In addition to these words on the Reconstruction, this episode includes footage of other events from the opening, including a performance of the Stamp Act Riot scene, demonstrations of Historic Trades, and an appearance by the Colonial Williamsburg Fife & Drums. Coffeehouse Conversations is produced by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's division of Productions, Publications, and Learning Ventures.

The video is 4 minutes and 5 seconds in length, and requires Adobe Flash® to view. If you don't have Adobe Flash installed, you can download a free version from Adobe's website.

And remember, if you have missed any of our Coffeehouse Conversations series, you can reach them all from our brief recap here.

The Webcam Retires

We wanted to let everyone know that the Coffeehouse webcam is being taken down today. With the overall culmination of the project, and successful opening of the building, the camera has fulfilled its purpose. The webcam will be getting some well deserved rest & relaxation, as we try to repair a few minor dings it picked up during a recent storm.

We also wanted to express our sincere appreciation for all of you who have paid such close attention to the webcam throughout the reconstruction. It has been a very successful aspect of the project, and we're very thankful for the enthusiasm and attention that it helped to develop. Ultimately, we have a number of ideas as to where the camera might end up next - but we'll have to see how things work themselves out.

Although the camera may be down, rest assured that the remainder of the Coffeehouse blog will be up and running, at least until the end of the year. We're planning to post more information about the Coffeehouse now that it is up and running, as well as some interior (and Holiday) photos. So, please don't go anywhere.

And thanks again for watching!

Coffeehouse Conversations - A Recap

In honor of the Coffeehouse opening, we wanted to repost links to all of the Coffeehouse Conversations videos. As you may recall, these short videos document a broad-range of parts of the project, and feature many of our staff members who have worked on the project. Many thanks to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Division of Productions, Publications, and Learning Ventures, who produced all of these videos.

All of the videos require Adobe Flash® to view. If you don't have Adobe Flash installed, you can download a free version from Adobe's website.

Coffeehouse Conversations 10 - A Particular Charm

We've posted the tenth video in our Coffeehouse Conversations series; this episode is entitled A Particular Charm, and features Jim Horn, Vice President for Research and Historical Interpretation.

In this episode, Jim gives a summary of the project and its results. He describes the project's attempts to create as accurate an 18th century Coffeehouse as possible, inside and out. Jim also discusses the role of a Coffeehouse in Colonial society, as well as the role of Charlton's in the environment and experience of Colonial Williamsburg. Coffeehouse Conversations is produced by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's division of Productions, Publications, and Learning Ventures.

The video is 4 minutes and 37 seconds in length, and requires Adobe Flash® to view. If you don't have Adobe Flash installed, you can download a free version from Adobe's website.

Washington Post Article

This is just a quick note to mention an article about the Coffeehouse reconstruction in today's Washington Post. The article discusses the history of the Coffeehouse and the reconstruction process, as well as the challenges that face museums in the twenty-first century. It includes quotes from Vice President for Research and Historical Interpretation Jim Horn, and Vice President and Chief Curator of Collections, Conservation, and Museums Ron Hurst.

Here's the link:

Opening Ceremony Information - Update

Update - We received a bit more detail on the opening schedule, so we've added/changed the appropriate information.

Greetings. We wanted to share some last minute information about the Opening Program and Ceremony for the Coffeehouse.

Here's the schedule:

  • Historic Trades will provide demonstrations from 2 to 4 p.m. in front of the Secretary's Office.
  • Beginning at 3 p.m., we'll have a variety of entertainment throughout the area, including musicians, actors, and interpreters.
  • There will be free samples of Charlton's Blend coffee, cider, and American Heritage Chocolate served between Shields and Palmer House.
  • At 3:45 p.m., the Fife & Drums will play, to let the public know that the Opening Program is about to begin.
  • At 4 p.m., we'll have a preview of the new Revolutionary City scene based on the Stamp Act Riot of 1765, when Chief Distributor of Stamps George Mercer was pulled from ane angry crowd by Lieutenant-Governor Francis Fauquier.
  • After the end of the Stamp Act scene, there will be the Opening Cermony itself, including the welcome and remarks by Richard Tilghman, Jeanne Zeidler, Colin Campbell, and Forrest Mars.
  • Later in the evening, we'll open up the Coffeehouse to public tours. The community open house will continue throughout Saturday and Sunday, featuring free tours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There will be no Revolutionary City programming this Friday, and access to the area will be open to everyone with or without a ticket.

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