If These Walls Could Talk… (The History of the Hitchens Building)

If These Walls Could Talk… (The History of the Hitchens Building)

Sure, you may have seen old photographs up on our walls if you have stayed with us before, but do you know the whole story of the Hitchens Building?

Albert Webster Hitchens, grandfather of owner Sharon Scruggs, was a merchant in the Historic Area when the Restoration started the reconstruction of “Colonial” Williamsburg. Hitchens owned a house and ran a general store on DoG St. where the James Anderson House and Armoury stand today.

Historic picture of a man

Reconstruction of historic area was on the rise and all the properties in the area were being bought by Colonial Williamsburg, forcing businesses to move elsewhere. Merchants Square was one of the first planned shopping centers in America that came about to provide these uprooted businesses with a new location.

Hitchens didn’t want to lease from Colonial Williamsburg. In fact, he sold his property to them and purchased the corner of land on Prince George and North Henry St. to build the Hitchens Building in 1933. The upstairs of the building was comprised of apartments which mostly housed people who had been uprooted from the Historic Area. Webster opened a new store, the West End Market, where the Tervis store is today, and he leased other spaces in the building for other businesses.

The building has stayed in the family for four generations surrounded by William & Mary College and Colonial Williamsburg properties and has leased countless businesses over the decades. 2 of the tenants were here for 40 years or more, Massey’s Camera Shop and the Williamsburg Shoe repair.

Sharon remembers that in the days of her childhood the basement held a bowling alley, a pool hall, and barbershop.

Picture of a historic building

In the 70’s, Sharon’s mother Yvette ran an art loft & artist consignment shop in the building. Practicing artists had a studio in basement– there was a silversmith, a potter, a leather worker, and visitors could come down and watch them work.

Sharon ran two gift shops, Webster’s Incredible Gifts and Webster’s Too collectively from 1994-2006 where LOKAL and Retro’s Good Eats stand today.

In 1999 the apartments were converted to a 9 room bed and breakfast, The Fife and Drum Inn, now a historic Williamsburg  bed and breakfast.

So much history, so many stories, and the dreams of so many entrepreneurs have lived in these walls. We believe that they all come together to make the Fife and Drum Inn an all-the-more special place to stay!

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