Main Street, Williamsburgh, Va

Dublin Core


Main Street, Williamsburgh, Va


Duke of Gloucester Street (Williamsburg, Va.)
Albumen prints
Centennial Photographic Company
Palmer House (Williamsburg, Va.)
Streets - Virginia - Williamsburg


This view looking west down Duke of Gloucester Street from the site of the Capitol captures the quiet, slightly dilapidated atmosphere of Reconstruction Era Williamsburg. The Palmer House is visible on the left, and what Colonial Williamsburg researchers believe is the porch of Charlton's Coffeehouse is seen to the right. A series of rutted horse and oxen trails wind their way from the foreground into the distance. Lines of trees shade foot paths on each side of the deserted street slumbering in the summer heat of mid-afternoon.

After the Capitol moved to Richmond in 1781, Williamsburg's colonial Capitol building fell into disrepair, and townspeople demolished the eastern portion in 1793. The remains burned down in 1832, leaving nothing but foundations. A building housing the Williamsburg Female Academy stood in the approximate location from 1849-1861. Mrs. Letitia Tyler Semple converted the building into a hospital for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Its ruins may have been visible behind the photographers when they set up on the grassy lot to take this vista photo.

Known in the 19th-century as the Vest House, the Palmer House served as a military headquarters during the Civil War. First occupied by Confederate generals John Magruder and Joseph E. Johnston, it became a Union point of command after the Battle of Williamsburg in 1862. General George B. McClellan resided in the house briefly before Federal provost marshals took over to police the occupied town. Its prominence may be one reason the photographers chose this vista, since the Centennial Photographic Company strove to record important Civil War sites.

The Virginia General Assembly officially christened the broad avenue Duke of Gloucester Street in 1699 to honor Prince William Henry. However, as the photo inscription notes, Main Street is the name by which most residents referred to the principle thoroughfare of Williamsburg in the 18th- and 19th-centuries.


Centennial Photographic Company




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Is Part Of

Albumen Print Collection, MS2005.16







Rights Holder

Special Collections, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Albumen print

Physical Dimensions

11 x 14 inches


Centennial Photographic Company, “Main Street, Williamsburgh, Va,” John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, accessed April 19, 2024,