Prentis Store Colonial Williamsburg

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 1740
Location: Williamsburg, Virginiamap
Surname/tag: Prentis
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Block 18-1, Building 5
Standing tall on the corner of Duke of Gloucester Street and Colonial Street since 1739, the Prentis Store is the oldest surviving commercial structure in Williamsburg.

Constructed of brick and other expensive materials, the intention was for the "ordinary" to be an exquisite building that would draw in the wealthiest clients. Opened for business in 1740, the store was stocked full of goods such as pottery, textiles, tools, toys, and goods for daily life of Virginia's Colonial Capital.

Although the enterprise that became the Prentis Store originated with Archibald Blair, it was William Prentis that constructed the brick building which still stands. In fact, the store was operated continuously from 1702 to about 1780 when Richmond became the capital of Virginia and trade slowed considerably.

Throughout the span of 200 plus years the building housed a variety of businesses, right into the early twentieth-century. Now part of Colonial Williamsburg, the initial restoration erased all evidence of previous uses. A further restoration in 1972 returned the building entrance to the original above grade height.

Prentis Store Location on Colonial Williamsburg Map

Store Ownership
Proprietor From ~ To Notes
Archibald Blair 1702 ~ 1738 originated the business
William Prentis 1738 ~ 1765 initiated construction
John Prentis 1765 ~ 1775 William's Son
Robert Prentis 1775 ~ 1779 William's Nephew


  • Winter, Kari J. The American Dreams of John B. Prentis Slave Trader. The University of Georgia Press, 2011

See Also

Images: 1
Prentis Store
Prentis Store

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