King William County Architectural Survey
The King William County Historical Society, with significant support from King William County, matched a grant from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) to fund an initial architectural survey of the county. The goal of this project was to update the architectural records for some of King William County's most important historic buildings, while also recording other significant landmarks, adding to our understanding of the county's built history. The project funded an architectural historian to revisit and update information on 80 previously identified historic properties, and 40 undocumented ones. This information will help the historical society, county planners, and the DHR evaluate which historic resources need assistance, what incentives might be possible to help property owners preserve their historic buildings, and how to best share these invaluable resources with the community.
Old Courthouse Plaster Repairs and Painting
The King William County Historical Society is repairing cracks in the plaster covering the brick walls and columns along the portico at the front of the Old Courthouse. After the repairs are complete, the new plaster will be painted to match the existing plaster. You may not even see a difference! The Old Courthouse is the oldest continuously active courthouse in Virginia. As with any important historic building, repairs are necessary to keep it in working order. Its an honor for the King William County Historical Society to continue maintenance on this important landmark.
Stabilization of Acquinton Church Building:
The King William Historical Society acquired the deed for this church site in 1996.
In 2007, one of our local archeologists, Summer Chaffman, who has had a lifelong
desire to see these ruins restored, delivered a presentation to the membership in which
she detailed the history and the case for restoration. Also one of our caring citizens came
forward in June of 2008 with a plan to stabilize the ruins for the enjoyment of our citizens.
The KWHS has been working with him to achieve this goal, and construction was completed in September of 2010.
County Historic Buildings Map:
In 1976 Elsie Garber and Sara Fox Wendenburg crafted a map of King William County based on a "historic homes" map that had been drawn in 1952 when the people of King William celebrated the county's 250th anniversary. County homes, sites and churches were marked, with an enclosed circle for existing structures and an empty circle for buildings that were no longer standing. Mrs. Garber and Mrs. Wendenburg secured a copyright for their map, and the Historical Society keeps this document under lock and key. A "cemetery overlay, " which can be added to the map without imposing on the original copyright, will enhance the map's importance as a research tool.
The restoration of the Aylett Family Burying Ground at "Fairfield," where interments began early in the eighteenth century and continued until 1860, was well under way by 1990. Aylett descendants contributed heavily to this project, and markers were placed at the graves of Unity West Dandridge and Elizabeth Henry Aylett (1769-1842), youngest daughter of Patrick Henry and his first wife, Sarah Shelton. After the placement of these stones the graveyard was re-consecrated as a burial site in the autumn of 1992. The maintenance of this historic graveyard is an on-going effort.
The court square in King William County is one of a few seats of justice in Virginia still surrounded by a wall. King William's enclosure was erected in 1840, and 150 years later poor drainage and general decay had created structural damage. With the permission of the King William board of supervisors, the Historical Society adopted the courthouse wall as the first restoration project undertaken after the Society's designation as a 501(c)3 charitable organization in 1997. Marion Jones chaired a committee that raised money for rebuilding the wall from corporate, government, and private sources. The wall was declared structurally sound in 2006.
Old County Jail Restoration:
The King William County Historical Society successfully renovated the
historic jail in the old King William Court House complex in 2013. The
jail was built in 1890. In 1940, it was used for county offices. In
the 1980’s the offices were moved to the County’s administration
building and the jail building remained vacant since then. The County
replaced the roof on the jail after considerable water damage to the
interior. The Historical Society completed the remaining renovation
work and now leases the jail from the County after successfully
raising the funds to repair it.
Renovating the jail has many benefits to the citizens and KWCHS::
- The KWCHS uses one room for the storage of artifacts, which were previously stored in the basement of the museum.
- The KWCHS uses a second room as an historic library and research room.
- A third room is now a meeting room for KWCHS and a jury room when court is held in the old court house.
- Two of the bathrooms are now handicap accessible. They are usable by KWCHS and the public when events are held at the complex.
- With the completed renovation, the historic 1725-complex is again fully utilized and enjoyed by the citizens of the county.