Wythe House
Wythe House was the Williamsburg, Virginia home of George Wythe, signer of the Declaration of Independence and father of American jurisprudence. It is located in what is now Colonial Williamsburg, on Palace Green, adjacent to Bruton Parish Church. The property was declared a National Historic Landmark on 1970-04-20.

The Wythe House once belonged to George Wythe's father-in-law, Richard Taliaferro. The house was constructed between 1752 to 1754 and was conceived as a whole with no additions made to the rectangular two story structure. The house was built during a period of time when the Governor's Palace was being renovated. The house remained as the sole household of Taliaferro when his daughter Elizabeth married George Wythe in 1755. The couple received the house as a wedding present from Taliafero and they received a life tenancy upon his death in 1779. George Wythe made no changes or renovations to the exterior of the house and it remains as it has for years. Elizabeth lived here until her death in 1787, and George finally moved out in 1791 to serve as a judge in Richmond, Virginia. The house served as headquarters for George Washington prior to the Siege of Yorktown. The house saw several subsequent owners including a reverend who established his offices on the second floor and also served as headquarters for the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area restoration. Colonial Williamburg officially obtained the property in 1938, and in 1939 the interior was restored to the form and appearance the Wythe family would have known.


The House
The house is a perfect example of the popular Georgian style of architecture from the 1770s. The facade is constructed of red brick with white trimming and is perfectly symmetrical, with the first floor having two windows on each side of the door, and five windows in alignment with the bottom windows. The roof is a low pitch with two large red brick chimneys protruding from the sides of the house. The roof rests on an entablature with dentil molding. The red bricks used in the construction consists of fired clay, sand and water. The bricks framing the windows and doors are called "rubbed bricks," as the masons would rub one side of the bricks against each other until a rosy color became evident. Several techniques were used to make the house look more imposing, such as the beveled water table bricks at the bottom of the first floor, thin mortar joints and alternating header (ends) and stretcher (sides) bricks. The entrance is reached by a small flight of steps with a large door with recessed panels and a transom window.

The Property
The property has fine symmetrical gardens framed by several outbuildings including a smokehouse, external kitchen, laundry, poultry house, lumber house, well, dovecote, and a stable. The gardens consist of brick paths and hedges with several small shrubs dotting the landscape. The property is contained by a simple white fence with hedges trimming the edges of the gardens.

Upon entry to the house a long hall reaches to the back of the house and out the back door. The hall is decorated with white half wood panelling, and blue wallpaper with white details of fruit, urns and pictures. A large staircase takes up the left part of the hall with simple spindles and handrail. The hall contains four internal doorways, two in the front of the house and two in the rear, leading to the various rooms. The parlor is to the left before the staircase. The room is centered around the fireplace, which contains side panels to provide a smaller, intimate fire. A buffet rests in the corner to the left of the fireplace. The red wallpaper in this room contains rosettes and fanciful depictions of flora. The dining room is across from the parlor, which it mirrors. A recessed fireplace and buffet frame the inside wall. White half wood panelling skirt this room with green walls and white crown molding. The dining table sits in the middle of the room and normally seats four. A decorative rug rests under the table and gives an appearance of a checkered floor. A guest bedroom is located behind the dining room, with a door connecting the two rooms. The bedroom is decorated with green wallpaper with depictions of leaves and vines. A white chair rail divides the walls with a black base board. The hardwood floors are covered with a diamond pattern rug. The bedroom has another doorway leading into the main hall to the rear of the house. George Wythe's office is located under the stairs and across the hall from the bedroom and served him throughout most of his career. The room contains a fireplace with a blue mantel and white firebox. The room features white walls with a blue chair rail. The wooden floors are uncovered and in the center of the room is a round table where Wythe worked. The second floor looks similar in layout to the first and contains the family's private quarters. A central hall runs the length of the house with four bedrooms filling out the corners. Each of these rooms has the convenience of a fireplace. The windows on this upper floor are actually slightly smaller than the first floor windows but contain the same amount of panels (18) and a double sash.

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