The George Wythe House
In the heart of Williamsburg, down the road from The Governor’s Palace, sits the home of George Wythe (pronounced like with). George Wythe was a planter, a lawyer, a teacher, a statesman and a signatory to the Declaration of Independence and a friend of Thomas Jefferson.
The Wythe House is one of few brick buildings in Williamsburg; one may call it the original five, four and a door referring to the classic architectural design. The proportions are near perfect in every detail with the prominent hip roof, twin chimneys, central hallway, oversize rooms, four up and four down and those unique windows. The windows are all of generous dimension and all are dressed with embrasured raised panel shutters, four shutter panels per window with the distinctive triple panel configuration known so well as typical of Williamsburg.
Frame homes of the 18th century had paneled shutters installed on the exterior but brick homes had the panel shutters installed on the interior of the house and frequently folding into pockets or embrasures built into the wall and window jamb. Masonry homes of the period often had walls exceeding 12 inches in thickness. This wall thickness provided an opportunity for the architect to build into the window jamb a pocket to receive the shutters when hinged open.
The shutters would fold neatly into the embrasures and appear as part of a paneled window casing. The shutters then fold out of the pockets and close tightly across the window providing privacy and insulation from the elements. Embrasured shutters may be seen in Monticello as well as many other masonry buildings in Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.
This clever architectural design can be incorporated into today’s home where there may be book shelves or cabinetry, either side of the window. By simply locating the cabinetry directly adjacent to the window the carpenter can use the depth of the cabinet to build a pocket to receive the shutters. At DeVenco we can assist your architect or cabinetmaker with this task by supplying typical designs or necessary drawings and specifications required for the project.