This page contains the most recent press releases for Merchants Square, with downloadable hi-res images. For more information, contact Louise Pritchard ([email protected]) or Sherry Volk ([email protected]), 757-220-4670.
Contact: Louise Pritchard or Sherry Volk
Pritchard Volk Consulting, LLC
High-resolution imaes available upon request.
Download a PDF version of the complete holiday schedule here.
Merchants Square—The Whole Holiday Package
Williamsburg, VA--Inspired by its rich heritage of 85 years, Merchants Square, adjacent to historic Colonial Williamsburg, brings the full spirit of the holidays together with an atmosphere that delivers the whole holiday package—unique shopping, fine dining and entertainment and events for the entire family. A full schedule of the entertainment and events in Merchants Square can be found at www.merchantssquare.org/holiday.
The Square brings the magic of the holidays alive with traditions for children of all ages. For the sixth year, the Virginia Theatre Machine brings its witty production of the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol,” performed in less than 30 minutes. New this year, fellow revelers can join in the tradition of Christmas caroling by the Merchants Square Christmas tree on Duke of Gloucester Street. The Williamsburg Waites will lead family and friends in a sing-along to the classic holiday tunes.
Visitors can forget the stress of shopping with the specialty boutiques and delightful selection of eateries while strolling musicians and choral groups further enrich this one-of-a-kind experience. Santa greets little ones at the William & Mary Bookstore on Saturdays and Sundays, with a professional photographer available to capture that special moment. On special Saturday mornings, Santa will arrive early to enjoy milk and cookies and story time with his young fans.
Most retail stores open at 10 a.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday. Individual store hours will vary. A detailed schedule of performances and Santa appearances can be found on www.merchantssquare.org/holiday. The Merchants Square Facebook page will contain any schedule changes and further contact information. Download a PDF version of the complete holiday schedule here.
A Christmas Carol – There is nothing more delightful than the Victorian-era Dickens tale to bring the essence of Christmas. Appealing to young and old alike, this refreshingly funny version of the timeless tale of the power of forgiveness is a welcome reminder of the magic the holiday brings. Conceived and brought exclusively to Merchants Square four years ago by the Virginia Theatre Company's Mark Lerman, this lively, entertaining and interactive30-minute version of “A Christmas Carol” is sure to have the entire family laughing.
New Caroling with the Williamsburg Waites-Family and friends are invited to get into the holiday spirit as they join in a sing-along to their favorite Christmas carols by the Merchants Square Christmas tree on Duke of Gloucester Street.
Holiday Farmers Market – Visit this open-air market filled with fresh and organic produce, home-baked specialties, flowers and greens, herbs, demonstrations, music and more. Be sure to get some fresh pumpkin butter, apple butter and other items for your holiday feasts.
It’s Santa Time! – It’s not Christmas until you hear the old holiday jingles and you see the jolly old man with the red coat.
Santa at the College of William & Mary Bookstore – Hear a captivating story and enjoy milk and cookies with Santa. Capture the special moment with a picture.
Strolling Father Christmas – Feel the spirit of the past with Saint Nicholas who will stroll the streets of Merchants Square until Christmas. He might even have a little magic up his sleeve!
Strolling musicians – Encounter the enticing performances of colonial balladeers, College of William & Mary choral groups and brass ensembles. The music that spans different musical eras and styles will make your experience a truly magical one.
Blue Talon Bistro Turkey Trot 5K – What better way to start the holidays than a healthy activity for the whole family? The race in historic downtown Williamsburg and through the campus of the College of William and Mary is an incredible opportunity to get involved in the community. Events will be held for children and a raffle of outstanding food and wine items will help raise money to combat hunger in this country.
Merchants Square, the shopping and dining district adjacent to Colonial Williamsburg’s renowned Historic Area, is home to more than 40 shops and restaurants. Built between 1928 and 1935, Merchants Square is recognized as one of the first planned shopping malls in the United States. In 2005 Merchants Square was added to the National Register of Historic Places along with the Williamsburg Lodge and the Williamsburg Inn to make up the Merchants Square and Resort Historic District. Merchants Square properties are owned by Colonial Williamsburg with the majority leased to private business owners. Revenue from Colonial Williamsburg’s commercial property initiatives supports the educational programs of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the not-for-profit center for history and citizenship that oversees and operates the restored 18th-century town of Williamsburg. For more information on Merchants Square, visit www.merchantssquare.org.
Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at www.history.org.
Contact: Louise Pritchard or Sherry Volk
High resolution photographs available upon request.
Merchants Square Celebrates 85 years as Williamsburg’s Planned Shopping District
With the “Look At Us Now” Campaign
Williamsburg, VA (April 10, 2013)—With its conception dating back to 1927 and first retail operations beginning in 1928, Williamsburg, Virginia’s Merchants Square is recognized as one of the earliest planned shopping districts in the United States. A yearlong celebration is planned, including a trivia contest that runs through May 13, an expanded Summer Breeze concert series starting June 19, and a birthday party concert on Friday, October 4, 2013.
“As Merchants Square has evolved, we have worked hard to maintain it’s historic ambience and be true to its roots,” states Ed Chappell, Architectural Historian for Colonial Williamsburg. “It is fun to look back through our extensive photographic archives to see what was in the original stores. While many of us today equate the ambience of Merchants Square with the fact that there are few chain stores, it is interesting to note that among the early stores in the Square were a Howard Johnson’s and an A&P grocery.” Through Merchants Square’s “Look At Us Now” campaign and daily trivia contest, many historic pictures are on display on the Merchants Square website and in shop and restaurant windows in the Square.
While John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and the Reverend W.A.R. Goodwin were envisioning the restoration of Virginia's colonial capital, they realized that the business community operating at that time in Williamsburg would need to be folded into the master plan. Shops and other small businesses, many located on the footprint of the original colonial town, would ideally be moved into a new, customer-oriented shopping district in order to make way for the accurate restoration of the rest of the town. The buildings for this "Merchants Square" would not be designed to duplicate the architecture of the 18th-century Historic Area, but to harmonize with the character of the restoration. Merchants Square officially began retail operations in 1928. Over the ensuing five years, this new shopping district took shape.
Contemporary visitors to Merchants Square benefit from the vision and passion of W.A.R. Goodwin, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., architects Perry, Shaw & Hepburn, and countless others involved in the Colonial Williamsburg restoration. Buildings of the new Merchants Square were set back farther from the street offering easy pedestrian access. Power and telephone lines were placed underground. Large trees were planted and modern elements such as heating ducts and garage equipment were concealed behind plantings and shrubs. In later years, the street was closed to vehicular traffic and parking, thus allowing for an expansive pedestrian mall connecting the stores. Today’s Merchants Square reflects the idyllic vision of the early architects who were ahead of their time in this type of design. The Square retains a friendly, quaint character much copied today throughout the country.
The “Look at Us Now” trivia contest runs from now through May 13. Those who enter and follow the daily series will have a chance to win a $25 gift card from one of the Square’s 41 shops or restaurants, and learn much about the life of downtown Williamsburg from 1928 to today. The celebratory Summer Breeze concert series will run on Wednesdays throughout the summer beginning on June 19. Merchants Square’s October 4 birthday bash concert will feature the popular party band Right On!
― CWF ―
[email protected] or 757-229-3668
Judi and Fred Danforth at their shop in Merchants Square. Click on photos for high-resolution version.
A pewter company that got its start in one of the original 13 colonies recently opened a store in Colonial Williamsburg’s Merchants Square. Danforth Pewter brings a modern flair to its pewter designs.
“We have two main collections,” said Bram Kleppner, CEO of Danforth Pewter. “The Shirley Collection that tends to be a very traditional and colonial type design and the Danforth Collection that features original, contemporary designs.”
The line includes everything from miniature pocket charms to one-of-a-kind oil lamps signed by the artist. The most popular categories are jewelry, holiday ornaments and key rings. Every piece of Danforth and Shirley pewter is crafted by hand from 100 percent lead-free fine pewter in the Middlebury, Vt., workshop.
In 2008, Danforth Pewter acquired Shirley Pewter of Williamsburg and became the owner of the Shirley Pewter Shop in Merchants Square and the manufacturer of the Shirley line of fine pewter.
Kleppner said Danforth Pewter continues its tradition with fine pewter designs with its shop in Merchants Square. “There is a place where the colonial era is alive and well,” he said.
Danforth Pewter began in 18th-century Connecticut when Thomas Danforth II opened a pewter workshop. Generations of the Danforth family followed him into the pewter trade. After the Civil War, glass and ceramic became affordable to average people, and the American pewter industry collapsed. The last of the colonial-era Danforths stopped working in pewter in 1873.
A piece of Danforth Pewter is on display in the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. “Joseph D. Danforth II was working as a pewterer in Richmond in 1806,” Kleppner said. “Very little of his work survived. One of the examples of his work is in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.”
Want to know more? Visit Danforth Pewter in Merchants Square at 417 Duke of Gloucester Street, formerly the Shirley Pewter Shop.
Tel: (757) 229-3391 12/17/2012
Cell Phone: (757) 561-3652
E-mail: [email protected]
20' High Angel Tree Is Largest Known in North America Outside of Metropolitan Museum
Click on photo for a high resolution version.
Williamsburg, VA--As of December 2012, Binns of Williamsburg, a luxury fashion, tabletop and holiday home specialty store located in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg's Historic Triangle, has been chosen as the exclusive North American dealer for the exquisite La Scarabattola Neapolitan angels and nativities. As their work takes remarkable skill and is highly limited, La Scarabattola has never before accepted any partnership or affiliation with another brand or organization. It was Thomas Smith’s; Assistant CEO at Binns, appreciation and passion for traditional European craftsmanship that prompted frequent visits to the La Scarabattola workshop in Naples, Italy and convinced the Scuotto Brothers to partner jointly in the US, stretching their wings to North America.
Celebrating the beauty and glory of the finest Italian craftsmanship, Binns decided to artfully display their Neapolitan Angels on a tree soaring 20 feet tall, rising above a phenomenal hand-carved Baroque figural nativity scene. All of the figures are made using centuries old hand-sculpting techniques with extraordinary attention to detail. Each figure is one of a kind -- their faces, hands and feet are made with terracotta, their glass eyes are baked in during firing. The figures’ adornments and hand-sewn lavish silk robes are embellished with sterling silver detailing. The angels’ wings are carved from wood. All components are made locally in their workshop in Italy. Other than the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, this is the only other known large-scale Angel Tree on display in the United States.
The Nativity scene is said to have originated with St. Francis of Assisi in 1223 in Italy, and carving figurines for nativity scenes started in the late 13th century when Arnolfo di Cambio was commissioned to carve marble nativity figures for the first Rome Jubilee held in 1300. Naples became the capital of nativity scenes when Charles III commissioned a Neapolitan workshop to create the first artistic nativity scene in 1700.
The La Scarabattola art group was founded in 1996 in Naples. After just 3 years the family company (The Scuotto Brothers) was chosen by Juan Carlos, the King of Spain, to craft a large collection of sculptures for the nativity scene at the Royal Palace of Madrid. After this splendid occasion, The Scuotto Brothers’ art studio La Scarabattola has become the most important workshop for the creation of sculptures for nativity scenes in the world. Furthermore, La Scarabattola has received a silver medal from the President of the Italian Republic for the outstanding quality of its “Made in Italy” production.
Binns of Williamsburg prides itself in purveying unique and upscale merchandise from around the world since the 1920s, and is located on Duke of Gloucester Street in Williamsburg, Virginia. Binns is pleased to add these timeless pieces of art to their holiday home merchandise selection. The public has also strongly expressed their gratitude for this incredible addition. Binns has invited La Scarabattola artisans to visit Williamsburg for in-store demonstrations and signing for the next holiday season! Rejoice angels on high. Prices for angel and figures start from $1,150.
If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Thomas Smith, please call (757) 561-3652 or email binnsofwilliamsburg.com.
Virginia Theatre Machine Celebrates Five Years with Popular
30-Minute Version of the Dickens Classic
Click on photos for a hi-resolution version.
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (December 6, 2012) – Merchants Square is pleased to host the Virginia Theatre Machine for its fifth incarnation of the annual holiday production Master Thespians’ A Christmas Carol. The 2012 production began on Thanksgiving Day and runs on weekends through December 23. Performances are free. Audience members are invited to join Grand Master Thespian Ed Whitacre and Stage Manager Bob for their fifth year of attempting to perform Mr. Dickens ghostly tale of redemption in record setting time! For those who have followed this annual serial production, the performers haven’t yet succeeded in their task, but this is the year! Not only is it the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens, but this year the Virginia Theatre Machine reached out to the many loyal fans from the past four years of performing in Merchants Square and asked them to submit a line of text to be included in this year’s play! Add new puppets (giant and small) to the mix and you can be sure mayhem ensues!
“We rewrite and re-design the show every year to keep it new and fresh for the many returning audiences we’ve developed. Incorporating the line submissions from our fan base has added a more contemporary feel to this year’s loose adaptation of A Christmas Carol,“ says Virginia Theatre Machine Director Mark Lerman. “Puppets, special effects, fast and furious costume changes, audience interaction…there is a lot packed into this year’s 30-minute production.”
The Virginia Theatre Machine mobile stage is set up on Duke of Gloucester Street adjacent to the Trellis Restaurant. Performances are scheduled for 3:30 and 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through December 23, weather-permitting. Please see merchantssquare.org for the complete schedule and any weather-related updates.
Merchants Square, the shopping and dining district adjacent to Colonial Williamsburg’s renowned Historic Area, is home to more than 40 shops and restaurants. Built in 1935, Merchants Square is recognized as one of the first planned shopping malls in the United States. In 2005 Merchants Square was added to the National Register of Historic Places along with the Williamsburg Lodge and the Williamsburg Inn to make up the Merchants Square and Resort Historic District. Merchants Square properties are owned by Colonial Williamsburg with the majority leased to private business owners. Revenue from Colonial Williamsburg’s commercial property initiatives supports the educational programs of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the not-for-profit educational organization that oversees and operates the restored 18th-century town of Williamsburg. For more information on Merchants Square, visit www.merchantssquare.org
The Virginia Theatre Machine (VTM) isa custom built mobile stage prepared to transport engaging and innovative professional theater to audiences anywhere a 2,000 lb trailer can be embedded. Virginia Theatre Machine's proprietor and Director is Mark J. Lerman, former Artistic Director of the internationally renowned Perishable Theatre in Providence, RI. The sets, special effects and puppets are designed by Jeremy Woodward, art director for film and television and scenery /puppetry designer for the stage. Ed Whitacre, one of the Peninsula’s favorite and critically acclaimed actors, performs. Janea Whitacre, Millinery Mistress of the Millinery at Colonial Williamsburg, designed and built the costumes. NYC Designer Bart Fassbender designs Sound. Virginia Theatre Machine is part of the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 Virginia Commission for the Arts Touring Roster. For more information about the Virginia Theatre Machine, see virginiatheatremachine.com.
Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at www.history.org
Lisa Akdogan (left), co-owner of the Precious Gem, is pictured with Hannah Pierce (right) of Williamsburg, a senior at ODU, and lucky winner of a $5000.00 diamond ring.
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (December 12, 2012) –The old Christmas carol The Twelve Days of Christmas, must have been playing in the background on 12/12/12 as Hannah Pierce, a senior at ODU from Williamsburg, got an early holiday treat. It wasn’t five golden rings but something much, much better thanks to a holiday event sponsored by The Precious Gem in Merchants Square.
The Precious Gem owners, Reggie and Lisa Akdogan, wanted to do something special this holiday season to bring attention to the shop’s fabulous and unique jewelry collection. Their idea was to give away a limited number of “diamond candles,” special candles that all contained a ring worth at least $10.00 but one candle in particular with a diamond ring appraised at $5,000.00. The event was scheduled for December 12 at both The Precious Gem locations in Merchants Square in Williamsburg and La Promenade in Virginia Beach.
December 12 was certainly an auspicious day for Hannah who had stood patiently in line that morning with the hope that there would be a candle for her before the limited supply of fifty was exhausted. Hannah’s patience was rewarded. She received one of the last remaining candles. Holding her breath she carefully opened the candle. Inside was a ring. She looked up and smiled. It was the beautiful and valuable diamond ring worth $5000. This would be one holiday season that she would remember for a long, long time.
The Precious Gem, doing business in Williamsburg for more than 30 years, reminds all its clients and friends that master goldsmith and jeweler Reggie Akdogan spends months travelling the globe looking for the best gems and precious metals for his unique creations. Back in his Williamsburg workshop Reggie fashions these handpicked stones and precious metals into stunning works of beauty. These objects of sublime beauty - - rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, chains and pendants - - are a wonder to behold, especially at this time of year.
Reggie and Lisa invite their friends and clients to stop by The Precious Gem between now and The New Year to see Reggie’s gorgeous new creations or just to say hello. Reggie’s artistry can also be viewed on The Precious Gem website: www.thepreciousgems.com