Colonial Williamsburg is a living-history museum and private foundation presenting part of a historic district in the city of Williamsburg, Virginia, United States. Colonial Williamsburg's 301-acre (122 ha) Historic Area includes buildings from the eighteenth century (during part of which the city was the capital of Colonial Virginia), as well as 17th-century, 19th-century, Colonial Revival structures and more recent reconstructions. The Historic Area is an interpretation of a colonial Americancity, with exhibits of dozens of restored or re-created buildings related to its colonial and American Revolutionary War history. Colonial Williamsburg's Historic Area's combination of restoration and re-creation of parts of the colonial town's three main thoroughfares and their connecting side streets attempts to suggest the atmosphere and the circumstances of 18th-century Americans. Colonial Williamsburg's motto has been "That the future may learn from the past".
In the late 1920s, the restoration and re-creation of colonial Williamsburg was championed by the Reverend Dr. W. A. R. Goodwin, other community leaders, such organizations as the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (now called Preservation Virginia), the Colonial Dames, the Daughters of the Confederacy, and the Chamber of Commerce as well as the scion of the Rockefeller family, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and his wife, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, to celebrate rebel patriots and the early history of the United States.
One of the largest history projects in the nation and a tourist attraction, it is part of the Historic Triangle of Virginia, which includes Jamestown and Yorktown, linked by the Colonial Parkway. The site was once used for conferences by world leaders and heads of state, including U.S. presidents. It was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1960.
Costumed employees work and dress as people did in the era, sometimes using colonial grammar and diction (although not colonial accents). Prominent buildings include the Raleigh Tavern, the Capitol, the Governor's Palace (all reconstructed), as well as the Courthouse, the George Wythe House, the Peyton Randolph House, the Magazine, and independently owned and functioning Bruton Parish Church (all originals). Colonial Williamsburg's portion of the Historic Area begins east of the College of William & Mary's College Yard.