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Wren Building, Williamsburg

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The Wren Building is the signature building of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, USA. Along with the Brafferton and President's House, these buildings form the College's Ancient Campus. With a construction history dating to 1697, it is the oldest academic building in continuous use in the United States. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960.Construction of the first building on this site began August 8, 1695 and was completed by 1700. After several fires and rebuildings, the Wren Building was the first major building restored or reconstructed by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., after he and the Reverend Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin began Colonial Williamsburg's restoration in the late 1920s. The building's current state dates to the 20th-century restoration by Boston architects Perry Shaw & Hepburn. The College named the building in honor of the English architect Sir Christopher Wren, after the Reverend Hugh Jones, a William and Mary mathematics professor, wrote in 1724 that the College Building was "modeled by Sir Christopher Wren". Perry Shaw and Hepburn's restoration reflects the building's historic appearance from its reconstruction in 1716 after a 1705 fire to 1859, when it burned again.The building is constructed out of red brick in the style of Flemish Bond, as was typical for official buildings in 17th- and 18th-century Williamsburg, including several walls remaining from previous structures, and it contains classrooms, offices, a refectory (known as the Great Hall), kitchen, and a chapel (added as a south wing in 1732). On the top of the building is a weather vane with the number 1693, the year the College was founded. In the early 1770s, plans were drawn up to complete the building as a quadrangle. Alumnus Thomas Jefferson (class of 1762) drew up a floorplan submitted to Governor Dunmore and foundations were laid in 1774. The looming War of Independence halted further construction, however, and the fourth wing was never completed. The foundations, however, still exist.
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  • Every Saturday that we are in Williamsburg we go to the Wren Chapel to hear Rebecca Davey give a historic organ concert. She always presents some great music and gives detail of the organ, pieces she ...  more »
  • A must to always see. We attended 2 concerts in the building - loved both. The chapel pews do hurt the back while the other side just has benches.  more »
  • I consider the Wren building to be the iconic symbol of the College of William and Mary so we were delighted to discover that not only could we take a peek inside but also attend a special organ conce...  more »
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  • There's something about getting old...

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Where to stay in Williamsburg

Williamsburg offers lodgings for every taste, including four-star resorts, quaint inns, and budget-friendly hotels. Accommodations in the city's historical district provide easy access to all of the area's major attractions, but they also charge much higher prices than equally comfortable guesthouses in some of the outlying neighborhoods. For a genuine Virginian experience, consider pitching a tent or renting a cottage in one of the area's popular campgrounds, which offer shuttle services to the city's major attractions and provide free Wi-Fi, cable TV, and fenced-in areas for pets.
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5 days in Williamsburg BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, teens, popular PREFERENCES: July, teens ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Williamsburg BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES January, popular PREFERENCES: January ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 10 days in Mid Atlantic & Lexington BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, teens, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: June, teens, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 5 days in Virginia BY A USER FROM CANADA January, teens, popular PREFERENCES: January, teens ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Williamsburg BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES November, teens, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: November, teens, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 5 days in Williamsburg BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES March, culture, historic sites, museums, popular PREFERENCES: March, culture, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 2 days in Williamsburg BY A USER FROM CANADA April, culture, historic sites, museums, popular PREFERENCES: April, culture, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 10 days in Washington DC & Williamsburg BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES November, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: November, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 28 days in United States BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA April, teens, kids, popular PREFERENCES: April, teens, kids ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 28 days in United States BY A USER FROM AUSTRALIA May, teens, kids, popular PREFERENCES: May, teens, kids ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 6 days in Virginia BY A USER FROM MONGOLIA December, popular PREFERENCES: December ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 4 days in Virginia BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES December, popular PREFERENCES: December ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium
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