Ornamental Separator

Vote for Your Favorite Holiday Wreath

The decoration contest winners are in. Now it’s your turn to pick the best of the best.

The ribbons have been awarded! We’re excited to announce the winners of the Historic Area Residents Doorway Decorations Contest, which dates back to 1937. And for the first time, we’re asking you to chime in and vote for a People’s Choice winner among these top wreaths!

Residents are divided into two categories, amateurs (persons with no floral arranging experience) and professionals. Trade Shops were added as a separate category in 2017. The Creative award recognizes one of Colonial Williamsburg’s floral designers who make the holiday decorations for all of the public buildings and unoccupied residences in the Historic Area, which is a lot of buildings!

Decorations are judged on the following criteria: the types of materials used; creativity and elements of the design; originality and faithfulness to the spirit of eighteenth-century decorative ideas; attention to detail and written information provided by the residents.

The votes are in! This poll closed Monday December 14 and you chose the Prentis House for the "People's Choice Award!" among the Historic Area Residents Doorway Decorations Contest winners.

See and read about from each winner about the ideas and materials behind their creations below!

A. Robert Nicolson House, Amateur category
On the North side of York Street, east of Bassett Hall

“The design theme for these decorations is the chinoiserie/Chinese Chippendale aesthetic popular in the 18th century, as used to interpret the Christmas story of the Magi, the basis of the Twelfth Night celebrations central to the 18th-century holiday season. The decorations are also a celebration of various objects and themes from the newly renovated Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. The primary inspiration for the decorations is the Byrd China Table. The table was likely made in Williamsburg c. 1770, and features designs derived from Household Furniture in the Present Taste, by Thomas Chippendale, et al., the name sake of the “Chinese Chippendale” style. The grapevine form and gingko leaves echo the foliated rococo scroll work of the table skirt, while the Japanese lanterns reflect the drilled rosettes along the lower edge of the table apron. The focal point bird has been rendered as a Carolina Parakeet, a now extinct but indigenous species named Psittacus carolinenesis by Linnaeus in 1758 in Systema Natura and illustrated by Mark Catesby in The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands. The bird is hand sewn from reproduction silk fabric and features a button form eye, a nod to tailor Robert Nicolson and the period taste for imported Asian textiles.” (Photos by Kurt Reisweber)

B. George Pitt House, Amateur category
On the corner of Duke of Gloucester Street and Colonial Street

“Our inspiration was the Somerset v. Stewart case mentioned in the runaway ad of John Christian who was previously owned by Dr. George Pitt, our houses namesake. The fight for freedom, resistance, and agency of the enslaved community here in Williamsburg and the many paths that fight took. Financial agency by keeping chickens and selling their eggs. Keeping African culture and religion alive by practicing here in the colonies, apparent by the pit of cowrie shells found at a Mr. Lightfoot’s house in Yorktown, the bakongo cosmogram and other African symbols found at gravesites. Using the British legal system and its every changing landscape to fight and establish legal precedent, Somerset, Griffin, and Walker are all examples. Finally, as in John Christian’s case, physically escaping from slavery, theft of self. The bundles of Rosemary are for remembrance, both of the named and unnamed. Our decorations include the names of enslaved people who lived and worked on this site, as well as some runaway ads and accounts that we have researched over the past year. Our door represents our greatest wish for them, permanent freedom and remembrance. We don’t know that they made it, but we hope they did.”(Photos by Kurt Reisweber)

C. Greenhow Tenement Kitchen, Amateur category
Off of Duke of Gloucester Street, directly behind the Shoemaker

“The building was originally a kitchen but the parlor is now temporarily being used, during the pandemic, as a schoolhouse for virtual learning. The schoolhouse theme brings a unique motif but highlights the necessity for Colonial America to address education.” (Photos by Kurt Reisweber)

D. William Waters House, Amateur category
On the north side of Duke of Gloucester Street next door to the William Pitt Store

Inspired by one of the newest exhibitions at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, “The Art of Edward Hicks” and the artist’s paintings of the Peaceable Kingdom. (Photos by Kurt Reisweber)

E. Peter Hay’s Shop, Professional category
On the corner of Duke of Gloucester Street and Queen Street

“This year’s decorations were inspired by the theme of joy as celebrated in one of the oldest surviving English carols, “I Saw Three Ships,” representing the Three Wise Men. The image of the Three Wise Men (the “three ships” in the carol) provides us with our basic design elements of barn wood, vine and greens, the star overhead, the repeated theme of three, the precious gifts from the East, and bells ringing throughout the earth (“And all the bells on earth shall ring”), all suggesting a new age born of the marriage of Earth and Heaven, East and West. It also provides us with our color scheme of brown for the manger, green for the winter boughs, and yellow (gold), cream (frankincense), and amber (myrrh) of the Wise Men’s gifts. The blue and white ceramic spice containers suggest the “three ships” and their origin “in the East.” The bright colors stand out like a joyous shout from the plain background, and sound like bells to fill the world with rejoicing. So concludes the carol: Then let us all rejoice, amain, On Christmas day, on Christmas day , Then let us all rejoice, amain, On Christmas day in the morning!” (Photos by Kurt Reisweber)

F. Prentis House, Professional category
On the corner of Duke of Gloucester Street and Botetourt Street

“Flowers and colors are uplifting. Nature always gives us hope and joy for a brighter day ahead. I hope the guests will enjoy the arrangements especially this year.” (Photos by Kurt Reisweber)

G. Wythe Lumber House (Coopers), Trades category
On Prince George Street between Nassau Street and the Palace Green

“The design inspiration for our wreath was “liquid cheer”. We also wanted to highlight some of our work in the wreath. The initial design idea was Bonnie's, as was the construction of the spray at the top of the wreath. Harry made the small tub that serves as the faux tapped cask in the middle, and Jonathan made the cannikins. As far as the materials are concerned, the spray at the top features wheat and rye, pomegranates, a dried quince slice, dried sliced green oranges, and hops. Mixed wheat and rye are also spilling out of the cannikins (tankards), while a cinnamon stick serves to represent "liquid cheer" flowing from the tap. Red and green apples and fresh oranges round out the decoration.” (Photos by Kurt Reisweber)

H. The Quarters, Creative category
On the southwest corner of Francis Street and Colonial Street.

“I love the ethereal look of lunaria (money plant) and wanted to use it somewhere, but it is so fragile. The Quarters has a small, covered porch that would give protection and keep the piece out of the weather, so it seemed safe to use it there. ” (Photos by Kurt Reisweber)

If you’re visiting, look for the ribbons to view these winners in-person. A blue ribbon is attached to each of the six winning residences for the duration of the holiday season. A single green ribbon is awarded to the winning Trade Shop. A single yellow ribbon is awarded to the winning floral designer’s decorations.

These eight wreaths are just a sampling of the holiday décor adorning hundreds of doorways in the Historic Area. Not to mention the charming glow of candles in each window. Plan your visit to experience the magic of the holidays, or sign up for our emails to keep in touch!

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