Photo: Susan Reimer
It is wonderful to visit Colonial Williamsburg anytime but especially during the holidays. Colonial Williamsburg hosted its first Annual Christmas display in 1935, but it was not until the 1970s that decorations appeared on the outside of the buildings there and that natural materials such as fruit were added to the wreaths on the front doors. Fruit, assembled in a fan shape, was also added to the transoms and pediments above doorways.
Louise B. Fisher and the Williamsburg Style
Louise Fisher, the major flower arranger for the restored Colonial Williamsburg village, was the developer of the revivalist colonial style of decorating which is now known as the Williamsburg style. It reflects colonial influences but does not aim to create exact replicas of actual colonial designs.
Actually, it was fifteenth century Italian garlands created in terra cotta and wood carvings displayed in English churches that first prompted Mrs. Fisher to use fruits in her arrangements.She insisted, however, that only fruits that would have been available in colonial times, such as oranges and apples and pineapples that were imported from Jamaica, could be displayed in her decorations. Fruit was far too expensive to be used purely for decoration during colonial times.
Louise Fisher also was responsible for creating the lavish bouquets of flowers for the interiors of Williamsburg buildings. However, she insisted that only containers such as fluted bowls, finger vases, tankards and pitchers be used as containers as these were popular during the eighteenth century and provided an authentic colonial touch. She also borrowed the idea of lighted candles in each window from the decorations popular in Boston in colonial times. Thus she created a uniquely American decorative style of holiday decorations that was a more modern version of the decorations used during colonial times. She suggested the past but did not adhere slavishly to each colonial custom.
Her traditional yet creative approach was a major force in defining our American style of flower arranging, which persists as part of our cultural heritage.