The Governor’s Palace was the official residence for the royal governors of colonial Virginia during much of the eighteenth century. Constructed from 1706-1722, the Palace housed seven royal governors and two post-colonial governors, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson.
Governors Who Lived in the Governor’s Palace
Nine governors resided in the Governor’s Palace: Alexander Spotswood, Hugh Drysdale, William Gooch, Robert Dinwiddie, Francis Fauquier, Norborne Berkeley, John Murray, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson.
History of the Governor’s Palace
Originally constructed to impress visitors with a display of authority and wealth, the historical building has a rich history that lived on even after the Virginia capital was moved from Williamsburg to Richmond in 1780.
The house served as a hospital for American soldiers during the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. The Palace was destroyed by fire later that year.
The site of the Governor’s Palace ended up in the possession of the College of William and Mary, which erected two school buildings near where the Palace once stood. The property was purchased by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in 1928.
It opened to the public as part of Colonial Williamsburg on April 23, 1934. Originally decorated with inaccurate Colonial Revival style antiques, the interior was refurnished in 1981 with pieces better representing the Palace’s eighteenth century décor. Additional changes were made in 2006 to reflect the Palace’s appearance during the residency of Lord Dunmore.
Today the Governor’s Palace is a part of Colonial Williamsburg. While its free to take pictures outside the Governor’s Palace when you visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area, you may want to get a more in-depth look at this royal palace. By purchasing a ticket to Colonial Williamsburg, you can take a self-guided tour of the Governor’s Palace from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. See the elegant décor and grand rooms for yourself, and get a glimpse at what life was like for the 18th-century elite.
To learn more about the Governor’s Palace, please make sure to check out one of our tours.*
*Note: We do not enter the buildings on our guided tours. You will need to purchase a separate ticket from Colonial WIlliamsburg to enter the Governor’s Palace. However, we can answer questions and tell special stories about what you’ve seen before or after your visit inside.