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This blog follows the reconstruction of the Revolutionary War Public Armoury on the James Anderson site

Reconstruction of the Blacksmith's & Public Armoury

April 20, 2012

The Armoury is Open: Now what?

On March 31, 2012, we celebrated the return of blacksmithing to the Anderson site, and the addition of foodways programming in the new kitchen.  We were gratified by the interest of our guests- those in attendance, and those observing via the web.  Attendance at the shop has been strong in the weeks following our opening ceremonies, with afternoon visitation hovering around 500 people per hour on most days.  Our opening ceremony has prompted many to ask, now what?

Armoury layout (click for larger image.)

Remember that this opening ceremony was a “soft opening.”  We wanted to acknowledge the blacksmiths’ return to the Anderson site, and to begin programming in the new kitchen, but the Armoury project is far from complete.  In fact, we are only about halfway finished with construction.  This year we will be building three structures- a shed in the yard for vehicle storage, a storage building adjacent to the south end of the Armoury building, and the tinsmith shop adjacent to the northwest side of the Armoury. 

With all of this construction still to come,  the carpenters have returned to Great Hopes Farm site to prepare materials for new buildings.  They are processing framing and roofing material for the shed and storage building as I write, and will begin on siding soon.  Plans are to raise the shed frame in a week or two, and the storage building frame sometime in June.  Framing of the tinsmith shop should begin by late summer (currently you can watch the brick masons laying the foundations on the webcam) and should be complete and ready to open by March or April of 2013.  We will then turn our attention to a workshop and second storage building on the southern half of the Anderson lot, with plans to finish the structures by late summer of 2013.   

For the blacksmith crew, this rigorous construction schedule means a couple of things:  first of all, nails will be needed in large quantity once again.  The shed will require about 1,000 nails, the storage building about 5,000, and the tinshop perhaps 12,000 nails.  Anticipating this need, we have been making about 100 nails each day in between our other work (see my earlier posts on nailmaking).  In fact, we use nailmaking as a warm-up activity each morning, and an activity to keep us busy at the forge when time doesn’t allow for more complex work ( at the end of the day when it is too late to start something new, for instance).  One hundred nails a day will produce over 30,000 nails in a year- enough to keep the carpenters well-supplied.  In addition to nails, the storage building and tinsmith shop will also require hinges and locks for doors and shutters.  These will be made as the buildings near completion.

Several of our readers wondered if the type of work demonstrated by blacksmiths will change now that we are working in the new venue.  I do anticipate new work that reflects activity typical of the armoury.  In coordination with members of the Powder Magazine staff we are developing programs to illustrate weapon cleaning and maintenance, and we will be making specialized tooling for manufacture of replacement parts for muskets.  In my research on contemporary Virginia armouries, I have accumulated tool inventories for the workshops which provide insight into work activities- manufacture of screws, manufacture of ramrods, and other small components.  We plan to replicate tooling and work with Magazine staff to make repairs to muskets used in our programming.   Museum demands for ironwork are similar to wartime demands for ironwork, so while we show military repair, we will continue to make common consumer ironwork.  Throughout James Anderson’s wartime accounts, that mix of military and consumer work is seen- delivering 1,000 refurbished muskets to the guard at Charlottesville, and then repairing a lock for a dairy door and making a replacement key for a lock.  Our shop will reflect that mix of wartime military and civilian work.

In fact, at present we are involved in completing furnishings for the kitchen.  As we bring activity into new spaces, we can anticipate most of the furnishing requirements, but often discover unanticipated needs for tools, utensils, or hardware necessary for our specialized programming.  We are finishing some ladles and skimmers for the cooking staff, and are working on a peel for the bread oven.  In recent days we have made additional trivets and pot hooks for the kitchen fireplace.  We have a couple of door locks to finish for the Armoury itself, as the limited workspace in the Deane Shop slowed our ability to produce hardware for the Armoury, putting us slightly behind in the schedule.  The additional workspace in the new shop will allow us more production capacity, putting us back on schedule.

On the subject of work space, the new Armoury building has exceeded expectations. In addition to the increased space, lighting is exceptional, and as the first warm days of spring arrived, we appreciated the increased airflow within the shop.   I anticipate that July and August will bring their typical heat and humidity.  Having plenty of windows to open will at least allow air to move through the building, easing our summertime discomfort. 

The building trades and the blacksmithing program (as well as all of the Historic Trades workshops) never experience a dull moment- there is no opportunity to rest on past success.   At Colonial Williamsburg, history never stands still; we are always adding new structures and new programming to the Historic Area and adding to our guest’s experience.  These additions require products of our Historic Trades programs- the “things” that allow our people to bring history to life.  So completion of the Armoury workshop simply means the beginning of the story’s next chapter. I hope that you will continue to follow along.

-Contributed by Kenneth Schwarz, Master Blacksmith

 

 

 

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  1. WHAT WILL GO INTO THE OLD GUNSHOP, WHICH WAS YOUR #1 ATTRACTION. IT WILL BE MISSED. GRADY ROWELL

  2. Hi Grady- Our gunsmith shop remains a very popular Historic Area attraction. The gunsmiths work on the Geddy site, an important Williamsburg industrial site. A few years ago our gunsmith shop was moved from the Ayscough property- where there was no evidence of a colonial gunsmith shop- to the Geddy property, the home and workshop of a prominent Williamsburg metalworking family.

    In August of 1751, David and William Geddy advertised in the Virginia Gazette as “smiths of Williamsburg” stating that they “…had all of the utensils requisite to carry on the gunsmiths, cutlers, and founders trade…” and would supply “…Gun work such as gun and pistol stocks plain and neatly varnished, locks and mountings, barrels blued bored and rifled…”

    If you visit the Geddy site today, you will see that Colonial Williamsburg gunsmiths actively carry on traditional gunbuilding work as did the Geddy family 260 years ago. You can see the Geddy’s ad in the Virginia Gazette at:

    http://research.history.org/DigitalLibrary/VirginiaGazette/VGImagePopup.cfm?ID=1019&Res=HI&CFID=13981300&CFTOKEN=59553302

    The Geddy gunsmith and foundry is open Sunday through Friday, closed on Saturdays. Come by and visit if you have a chance.

    • Good morning Ken,

      I am looking foreward to our return to CW this November to experience, up close, all the changes in place.

      In the reply above, you make a reference in the Geddy ad to ‘cutler.’ It caused me to wonder if, as a part of the armory operations, you anticipate the production of bayonets or would they have been made in a foundry, like Geddy’s?

      • Mike- I look forward to your autumn visit, as always. I think you will like our new quarters.

        The Geddy’s did indeed advertise as “cutlers”, and list some of the work they carried on in that capacity. We have advertisements for several other cutlers- smiths who specialize in sharp cutting instruments like knives, swords, shears and surgical instruments- in Williamsburg prior to the war.

        While no individual cutler is identified in the Armoury records, the daybook and archaeological record demonstrate that some cutler’s work was being done on the site. We have fragments of naval cutlasses excavated by archaeologists and daybook entries listing “…to cleaning 4 swords…” and “…to a new hilt for a sword…”.

        Records show that swords for Virginia troops were being made in Fredericksburg during the war. Fredericksburg is located at the fall line, and therefore had the falling water to provide industrial power for large scale manufacture. Forging swords with water powered trip hammers, and finishing them with water driven gridstones made short work of the business. Williamsburg, sitting on the ridge between the James and York Rivers, lacked significant water power. Therefore, Williamsburg was the center of arms maintenance, and Richmond and Fredericksburg were the Virginia centers for manufacture.

        While I am not certain about bayonet work, tool inventories, archaeological fragments, and correspondence from other armouries certainly show that bayonet work was a common activity In armourers shops. I intend to have tooling and examples of forgings for bayonets on site- perhaps even in time for your November visit!

  3. so….I’m wondering. Authenticity is a vital part of this Armoury recreation. How authentic is the PRIVY gonna be? Perhaps “pit” not included, I suspect!? ;o)

    • Rick~
      I feel pretty confident that the only person who will touch this question is the archaeologist in the crowd! Though we have a full inventory of everything found in that privy pit (no kidding! Things like straight pins, lead shot, what appears to be a toasting fork, flint debitage, and an unfinished key )my hunch is that you are correct…we will stray from authenticity when it comes to the privy. Our colleagues at the Jorvik Viking Centre may have hit on the most creative solution to this problem. They produced a scratch n’ sniff postcard to enliven (and yet limit the effects of) their privy reconstruction!

      • I always heard that military rations lacked a gourmet appeal, but pins, lead shot, and flint debitage? Talk about roughage! Fortunately, the Foodways crew has been easier on us- roast beef, stew, beans, and wood-fired oven bread… I will take that over flint chips any day.

    • Carl Lounsbury’s book “An Illustrated Glossary of Early Southern Architecture and Landscape” defines a privy as “a structure or room housing a latrine with a bench with holes.” The term seems to have been little-used in Virginia before the time of the Revolution. Other terms for the building are “necessary house”, “house of office”, house of ease”, and my personal favorite, “cloacina temple”, a name derived from the principal sewer of Rome.

      Next time you are in Williamsburg be sure to ask someone in costume where the nearest “cloacina temple” is…

  4. It was the toasting fork that caused the real problem….

    • I have seen hungry blacksmiths at the table. The fork was most likely inhaled by the workman before the cook could withdraw it from the roast.

      • Wow! I can add nothing to that…except to say that I look forward to the interpretive programs!!

  5. While we are on the (quite interesting) “privy” discussion….I also volunteer at “Wheatland” here in Lancaster, Pa. – It is the home of our 15th President, James Buchanan. There is a “privy” on the property that has rose and lilac bushes planted around it. History tells us that this was done quite a bit….FOR OBVIOUS REASONS! Any thought of recreating this aspect of authenticity from the historic landscapers at CW?

  6. Rick~
    It’s never too early to start a privy discussion! I hadn’t heard of planting rose or lilac bushes around privies. Perhaps it’s a 19th century practice? What I do know from the few privy pits that we have found is that lime is sometimes used in controlling odor.

    But Rick, you have visited the Anderson site before, and have smelled the acrid smoke that comes from those chimneys (not to mention the smell from the garbage-filled ravine!). Multiply production many times over, and I think you’ll agree that the odor of a privy or two doesn’t stand a chance against the industrial smells that the Armoury would have produced. Though I should probably consult with my colleagues in Landscape before answering, I think I can safely say that we’ll have no rose bushes here!

    • Good point Meredith. Plus you’re right about the 19th century aspect. Not sure what steps, if any, were taken in the 18th century. BTW, I love the smell of that acrid, sulfery, green-ish blue/gray, smoke! But then again your talkin’ to a guy from the cow manure capital of the world (Amish Country, Lancaster County, Pa.)…which I also like! Weird, huh?

  7. On another subject, I was wondering about the construction of the Tin Shop foundation. First, I notice two open slots in the side of the brickwork facing the webcam. Are those for structural beams or for ventilation or what? Also, will there be a wooden floor raised above a crawl space, or a floor built directly on the ground inside the foundation? Thanks for following up on my question about the blacksmith’s planned projects, I enjoyed reading about it all!

    • Russell – The slots in the brick foundation are indeed for ventilation. If you look closely when you walk around town you will see them in many of our buildings, including the Peyton Randolph Kitchen and the Courthouse. There WILL be a wooden floor inside the tin shop, which we interpret as having been a small shop or tenement house before it was pressed into military service during the Revolutionary War.

      • Garland – thanks! So just to be sure I understand, the wood floor will be above a crawl space accessible from inside? I also assume there will be some sort of mesh over the ventilation holes to keep critters out? Pardon the detailed interest in this, but when I was younger I lived in a house over a crawl space & my father & I had various “adventures” down there fixing things & dealing with unwanted “visitors”.

    • Russell – There will be a crawl space under the floor, with access through a hidden hatch in the floor. We will block the back of the ventilation holes with rat wire to keep most of the critters out of the space. We live in a very damp climate and it is always a good idea to ventilate the space under a floor. The 18th century Virginia planter Landon Carter wrote that he wanted to make sure the airholes under one of his buildings were free of blockage lest the building become “funky”.

      • I will add that I am glad to know of Russell’s experience and expertise in these matters should we run into any unforeseen critter trouble!

      • Garland – yes, I agree, ventilation is a very good idea! And, Meredith, sad to say my “experience”, such as it is, was many years ago now, and I fit into confined spaces a lot better then, too :-)

  8. To Rick (who started it), Meredith and Ken (who added to it and finished it),

    Thanks for the laugh. I was having a rather unpleasant day at work, when I logged in at lunch time. Not only do you folks provide history at its best, but comic relief too. What more can I ask for. I lost it with Meredith’s comment about the toasting fork. I’m still having trouble getting the mental image out of my head.

    I’m enjoying the Tin Shop work. When will they start on the walls? Will the moveable webcam go to the framing site, as it was for the armoury walls and such?

    Thanks again for “ALL” you do,
    Chris

    • Christine – The Historic Trades Carpenters are already making the building materials for the next three structures to be raised at the Armoury – we are working out at Great Hopes Plantation. We will be making building materials for much of the summer, and begin framing the buildings in late August/early September. Look for the walls to go up on the Storehouse and the Tin Shop this winter, with a planned Spring opening.

  9. If the kitchen produced a lot of food waste, I wouldn’t have been surprised to learn an hog or two were kept in the yard.

    But then the hog would have produced another odor to add to the bouquet.

    • Dave- As Meredith can attest, much of the kitchen waste ended up in the ravine on the north side of the tinsmith shop. They found plenty of beef bone, a little bit of bone from fowl, and some pig, along with a quantity of oyster shell.

      Undoutably, some of the bone was processed into other material like charcoal for case hardening while some shoulder blade bone was used to make button blanks for clothing maintenance. I would guess with 40 hungry workmen there was little that went to waste, except for the inedible elements- bone, shell, feathers, etc. Once the smiths were done, there probably wasn’t enough left over to sustain a pig.

  10. What a way to start my day-a rather detailed privy discussion! I’m not even going to touch that one!
    Kenneth-how many man hours does it take to make 100 nails a day (or how much time per nail)? 100 seems like a lot if making them is a daily warm-up and time filler.

    • Mimi- For a practised hand, nailmaking goes pretty quickly. As with most repetitive work, you settle into a rhythm of production that allows the work to be done quickly. We usually can maintain a pace of nearly two nails a minute, so 100 nails is a little less than one hour of work. Twenty or thirty minutes in the morning and afternoon allows us to meet our goal.

  11. I was wondering what sort of raw stock would have been available to the Anderson blacksmiths in Colonial times? Could they have gotten basic shapes like flat strips, rods, etc in various dimensions, or would they have had to make up even such basic shapes from larger pieces? Thanks.

    • Russell- Bar iron was manufactured in the colonies in great quantity. In fact it was a major export. Some researchers suggest that the colonies were the third biggest producer of iron in the western world at this time. That makes sense when you consider the economic role of the colonies in the empire. The new world supplied abundant raw materials to the industrialized world, and provided an expanding market for manufactured goods. So the ships leaving the Chesapeake carried natural resources and agricultural commodities, while ships entering the Chesapeake carried manufactured consumer goods from England, and materials unavailable from local sources- such as sugar, rum, tea, etc.

      Iron was purchased by Williamsburg blacksmiths in bar form. The sections were mostly square or rectangular and mostly in lengths ranging from 10 to 20 feet. Virginia sources were nearby, with Richmond and Fredericksburg being the main centers of smelting iron and making bar. Some iron came to Williamsburg from as far away as Baltimore. Overall within the colonies, the Mid-Atlantic region had the biggest concentration of iron works, but nearly every colony had produced iron prior to the Revolution.

      • Kenneth- I knew that iron was produced in the colonies but I had no idea that it was produced in such quantities. What sort of cross sectional dimensions did the bar stock have? By the way, thanks for moving the webcam to a good perch in the shop this morning. You seem to be getting a lot of visitors, which is great. Some appear to be school groups?

      • Russell- the bar dimension ranged from wire less than 1/8 inch thick to bar about 3 inches square, with dimension varying by the eighth or quarter inch in section for both square and rectangular stock. Round stock was hardly used because in order to shape a round, you first hammer it square. The exception to that “rule” is in chain making. Chain makers usually start with round because they don’t really change the section of bar, they cut, bend and weld the links.

        Today was a busy day with many school groups. Our daily listing of groups said that we had 2,000 kids in town today!

      • Kenneth- thanks! One more question, if you don’t mind. I see some flat bladed tools on the table, for example, one that looks like a hoe blade. Would a relatively wide, thin piece of iron such as that be made by flattening one piece of relatively thick bar stock, or by forge welding together several pieces of flattened smaller stock? Either way sounds like it would require a lot of hammering!

  12. Meredith,
    Hadn’t heard where Miss Eleanor is these days.Thank goodness
    for this wonderful project and all of the dedicated people
    putting all together together. I watch this site several times a day. I broke my back in early march and planned to come to the opening, but it wasn’t to be. The comments and your sometimes funny answers make my day so much better. I hope to come up in the fall brand new.Bless you all.

    • Kerry,
      After wishing you a speedy recovery, let me put your mind at ease regarding Eleanor. She is the happy recipient of all of the culinary ministrations of the Foodways staff, now working at the Anderson Kitchen. Rumor has it that Eleanor dined on freshly cooked chicken, tuna, and salmon this week (I may be getting in line with her next week!). What I can tell you from first-hand experience is that she turned up her nose at the can of cat food that I presented this morning.

      Hope you make a quick recovery. The Armoury should be even more exciting by the fall…we look forward to your visit!

      • I can vouch for Eleanor being happy and healthy. We visited her and Ken along with the Very Nice New Shop on 4/13. She was giving a Texas lady a hard time on the porch next to her basket when we arrived. As I tried to photogragh her she got ahead of me and disappeared through the fence behind the Coal Pile. I did get a couple of shots anyways.

        I can’t say enough good things about the shop and Ken. Everyone did a great job. Had a hard time not getting in on the Privy talk but laughed my day away with it.

        Keep up the great work at CW looking forward to the rest of the construction on the web cams, Thank You Mr Mars.

  13. Hi Ken,

    Would you please e-mail a phone number or a direct e-mail address that I can send a question in on?

    Thanks,

    Chris Hansley

  14. The article mentions a shed in the yard for vehicle storage, a storage building and the tinsmith shop, yet the Armoury layout shows a workshop and 2 storage buildings plus the privy. Has there been a change in the plans for the site?

    • Dave,
      Thanks for keeping tabs on our progress! As you know, the tin shop was a late addition to the plan. When we learned last summer that it was part of the Armoury, we added it to the reconstruction. The workshop and the two storage sheds were indicated on the Frenchman’s Map (Revolutionary War period) and their foundations were discovered archaeologically. The privy pit was an archaeological discovery that would not have been drawn by the Frenchman due to its size.

      That leaves only the vehicle shed unaccounted for. Because it has not been identified on any map, nor has archaeological evidence been found for it(that area of the yard has not been thoroughly excavated), we are constructing it very lightly, making it a building that would leave almost no evidence. In fact to call it a shed is somewhat inflated. It will consist of 8 locust poles (4 on each side) and a riven oak lean-to roof. Measuring 24′ x 12′, it will provide protection for some of the carpentry work in the short term, and for vehicles…things we don’t want exposed to the elements… in the long term.

      • Keeping tabs indeed!

        We first visited in 2009 as the Coffee House was being completed. I saw the web cam, looked it up when we returned home and was hooked.

        Fate had us back in the area in 2010 and saw the foundation for the Anderson Kitchen under the canopy. You were excavating something I think about where the outdoor bread oven is located.

        What continues to amaze me is the amount of discovery and refinement in CW. I would think after what, 70 years of preservation, everything would be done! Not so as evidenced by my question and your reply.

        I wish Cincinnati was not so far from CW.

      • Dave~
        You live in a nice part of the world…but we’re glad you enjoy your visits to Williamsburg! Here’s a surprising statistic: we believe that only about 20% of the Historic Area has been completely excavated. So we still have lots to dig, giving you plenty of opportunity to visit!

        When you encountered us near the bake oven two years ago we were doing an assessment of that part of the yard in preparation for site grading. While grading was needed for drainage, we would not have done it had there been intact archaeological remains just under the surface. Turns out that later construction had destroyed most of the archaeological layers in that area.

  15. Hi Meredith,

    What type of vehicles are you talking about? Colonial carts, wagons or carridges? Or modern day work trucks that need to be kept out of sight, but near the construction area?

    Have a good day,

    Chris

    • Hi Chris,
      According to Ken, wagons and carts (of the 18th century type)will be stored in the vehicle shed. Nothing modern. It would be difficult to hide anything in so open a structure. We may also have occasional basketmakers, coopers, carpenters or wheelwrights working in its shade.

  16. Good Day Ken,

    While reading about the construction of the Armoury Kitchen, the Armoury, the Tin Smith Shop and the other future buildings, I was wondering if there will be a vapor barrier of plastic sheets or some other material to keep the moisture from penetrating the floor of each building, none of which would be seen by the public?

    • Hi Ron:

      That is an excellent question. Yes, we installed a 6 mil thick poly vapor barrier as well as 2″ thick rigid insulation below the paved floor in the Armoury. We did not install a vapor barrier beneath the clay floor in the kitchen however since we do not want the clay floor to get too dry potentially creating cracking, flaking, dust, etc. The Tin Shop will have a vented crawl space beneath the wood floor and we will most likely install a vapor barrier on the dirt/gravel floor of the crawl space.

  17. Hi, I guess this question is for Garland. Could you tell me if the interior wall sheathing in the armoury is ship-lapped or just square edged material? I’m building a shop for hand tool woodworking and am almost ready to sheath the interior walls.
    Really appreciate you guys having these web-cams around. I check them several times a day. Would love to see one in the Jointers shop and the Hay shop. But then I guess I’d NEVER get any work done.

    Thanks and have a great day,

    Jamie Bacon

    • Jamie – the sheathing in the Armoury is square-edged. Ship-lapped would certainly work, and would make any gaps between the boards less obvious with seasonal movement, but we felt square-edged boards butted together would reflect our 1779 time period and the nature of a work building better.

  18. Hello everyone.

    Thanks for moving the roving cam around so that we get a lot
    of different views. I check all the cams several times a day. You may have answered this question already but how long did the shop operate after the revolution? Was all or part of it converted to other uses?

    • Jim- You ask an interesting question. The Armoury was constructed starting in 1778, and served as the primary weapons repair depot for the Commonwealth of Virginia until the capitol moved to Richmond in the summer of 1780. Following the war, Anderson operated shops in both Richmond and Norfolk, eventually leaving the Richmond shop to one son and the Norfolk shop to another. Anderson returned to Williamsburg around 1795 and paid to have a number of forges built, presumably because the British had destroyed the forges (but not the shop) when they occupied Williamsburg in 1781. Anderson continued to work on the site until his death in late summer of 1798. Following his death, the property was occupied by his daughter Nancy, who had married George Camp, a Norfolk merchant. During Nancy’s occupancy of the site in the early nineteenth century, I presume that the shop was either taken down, or it fell to neglect and disappeared from the site.

      As for the webcam- Meredith showed me how to reposition it, so who knows what might show up on your computer screens. For the moment I have it trained on the workshop, because I think that is the most interesting part of the site! Meredith and I have been discussing some more “artistic” possibilities giving our viewers some more unique perspectives on the site. Stay tuned!

  19. UNDER a spreading chestnut tree
    The village smithy stands;
    The smith, a mighty WOMAN?

    Do I see a female smith today (Friday 5/11)?

    How refreshing!

    Is there any historical evidence of female smiths?

    I would guess in small shops a smith’s wife would help out as her time would permit, is there anything to back me up?

    • Dave- You do indeed see Aislinn (pronounced Ash-lin)in the shop. We are pleased to welcome her back. Aislinn spent two summers with us as an intern while she pursued her degree in Architectural Ironwork. We hired her into the shop last fall, but she was just beginning her senior year, and so we bit the bullet and worked with a reduced staff, allowing her to complete her academic work. She graduated last weekend (and was valedictorian of her graduating class) and has joined the Armoury staff full time. I am pleased to have her as a full member of the team.

      As for women in the workshops- if you recall in my blog entry on nailmaking I quoted William Hutton’s 1741 observations of workshops along the road to Birmingham;

      “…I was surprized at the prodigious number of
      blacksmiths shops upon the road; and could not conceive
      how a country, though populous, could support so many
      people of the same occupation. In some of these shops I
      observed one or more females…. wielding the hammer
      with all the grace of their sex. The beauties of their face
      were rather eclipsed by the smut of the anvil ….”

      Women were not an uncommon sight in English workshops, particularly in the nailmaking and chainmaking trades, and are found in a number of other irownorking trades as well.

      While I don’t know of any female blacksmiths in eighteenth century Williamsburg, I agree with your important observation that within a small family business your cheapest labor comes from your own family. I presume that in periods of high demand, family members are pressed into service within the shop. One possible confirmation of this assumption shows up in newspaper advertisements from the period. On occasion, when the owner of a business dies, his wife advertises that she will continue the busniess. One example of that here in Williamsburg was on the Deane site where we worked during construction of the Armoury. Elkanah Deane was a coach and carriagemaker on the Palace Green. When he died, his wife Elizabeth continued to run the business- even doing work for the Committee of Safety early in the war. Was she pushing the plane and cutting mortises with chisel and mallet, or acting as overseer in a large shop with paid emplyees? We don’t really know, but the fact that she continues the business suggests to me that she is involved with the operation before her husband’s death and has confidence that she can run the business successfully.

      As for the Armoury- my job is to see that we have the best and most capable hands working in the shop. Aislinn was my choice as the best candidate for the opening in our shop. I am pleased to have her working with us.

  20. Just a comment. We were in WB last June and it is so amazing to have watched on the webcam just how far you have come in less than a year! I really enjoy the webcam inside the Armoury. My dream is to come back in the fall some year. Keep up the great work and those webcams!

    • Peg- Thank you for the positive feedback. We are pleased to have so many loyal followers, and realize that the webcams have become an important link allowing our frineds to follow us from a distance.

      Fall is an excellent time to visit, when the summer’s heat has abated and the evenings are cool and dry. It is my favorite time of the year. Make sure to stop in the shop and say hello!

  21. Ken,

    Thanks for the info and thank Meredith for showing you how to repostion the cam. Love the different perspectives. I am also blogging on the cannon site. Did the Armoury do any type of pourings for artillery pieces? Did they do any forging work for them?

  22. Jim-I am still a novice at this camera thing, so credit the good shots to Meredith and if you find yourself staring at the brick floor for a few hours, that is my work.

    I can document a small amount of brass and bronze casting at the armoury, mostly to make replacement parts for muskets- trigger guards, butt plates, side plates, etc. The Commonwealth established a cannon foundry in Richmond, once again taking advantage of Richmond’s reliable falling water to operate large machinery. The Armoury did occasionally forge ironwork for mounting artillery on carriages.

    If you are following the cannon blog, you may have seen that we have plans to attempt another large cannon pour on Thursday the 24th. Keep posted to that blog to see how it goes.

    • Thanks Ken,

      I will watch for how the pouring goes. I worked as a brick mason’s laborer in my youth so brick floors are interesting to me. LOL

  23. Ken,

    How is the framing for the Tin Shop going? It appears that the brick foundation work is complete. Is there any other prep that has do be done before the framing can be set in place and will you be able to do as CW did with the Randloph Kitchen, allow visitors to help in putting up the framing? Would love to be on one of the ropes helping to put it in place!!!

  24. I’ve noticed that the armory and kitchen entrances are roped off so that the visitor can’t enter these areas. I remember when the armory opened, one could see visitors in the building. Is there a reason on this change?

  25. Peg- On the days that the Armoury kitchen is operating, the kitchen staff typically cook in the kitchen in the morning, and bake bread in the bread oven in the afternoon. The kitchen is open and accessible to our guests when kitchen staff are in the building, but we place the rope across the door when the staff are working in the yard at the bread oven. The fire in the fireplace burns all day long, and there are sharp knives and other furnishings in the kitchen that need to be secured. Therefore, when no staff are in the kitchen, guests are allowed to look in, but not enter the building. Staff in the yard are happy to allow access to the kitchen interior upon request when they are working in the yard.


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