Before Judge St. George Tucker was finished with this old Williamsburg house, he had carried it across three Palace Green lots to face Nicholson Street and Market Square, and turned a story-and-a-half, four-room affair into a two-story home with dormered east and west wings, a coveredway connection to the kitchen, a habitable cellar, and a deep lean-to-like back hall with two handsome staircases. Tucker needed the space. Under those roofs sheltered ten children, his wife, himself, and a housekeeper.
Theatrical manager William Levingston built the core of the structure circa 1717, about the same time Levingston raised English America’s first playhouse next door. Tucker, who would take the state bench in 1803 and federal robes in 1813, was in 1788 a lawyer and new College of William and Mary law professor. He acquired the home that year from absentee landlord Governor Edmund Randolph, and set to work. Eight years of sawing, hammering, and bricklaying later, it looked much as it looks today, restored, in the color photograph.
The restoration, begun in 1930 and finished in 1931, took a lot of work, too. Look at the archival black-and-white picture and compare, among other things, the arrangement of windows around the front door, the nineteenth-century lawyer’s office on the front lawn to the left, the then two-story kitchen behind it, and, to the right, the porch and doorway.
Tucker descendants lived in the home until 1992. After much research and more renovations, it opened in 1996 as Colonial Williamsburg’s reception center for donors making annual gifts of 0 or more. It also is open for tours.