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$1 million gift to add market building to Colonial Williamsburg

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Colonial Williamsburg plans to reconstruct a market house on its grounds with the help of a $1 million gift from one of the owners of McLean-based Mars Inc.

The market house is the third major historic reconstruction funded by Forrest Mars Jr. of Big Horn, Wyo.,  since 2007 with gift funds totaling $11 million.

The reconstructed market house will be a wooden structure on a brick base. It will be about 20 feet in width and 40 feet in length with a shingled hip roof. The sides of the building will be entirely or partially open.

Early in the 18th century, the colonial legislature set aside space in Williamsburg midway between the Capitol and the College of William and Mary to be used for markets and fairs. By midcentury, Market Square was an important center of community life with daily markets and auctions.

Despite its well-known existence, physical evidence of Williamsburg’s 1757 market house is scarce. The building was used through the early 19th century until it was replaced by a new structure in 1835.

Previous gifts by Forrest Mars include $5 million for reconstruction and endowment of R. Charlton’s Coffeehouse and $5 million for reconstruction and endowment of the James Anderson Blacksmith Shop and Public Armoury, including the recently completed Tin Shop, which formally opens this fall.

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