Colonial Williamsburg’s new historic site will interpret barber John Hope’s story

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – The Barber of Gloucester Street’s story is about to reach a wider audience.

Colonial Williamsburg will host the ceremonial ribbon-cutting of its newest historic site, Hope’s Barber Shop, on September 17 at 11:15 a.m. The site will interpret the story of John Hope, also known as “Barber Caesar,” who endured slavery before winning freedom and achieving professional success. It will open to the public on October 1.

In attendance will be Peggy Hammond, one of Hope’s direct descendants, along with actor-interpreter DeAndre Short, who portrays Hope.

In 1743, Hope was captured as a child and sold into slavery to a York County tavern operator who advertised haircuts and gave him the name “Caesar.” His sale in 1768 for £150 indicates that he had acquired valuable skills. Hope was quoted by the Virginia Gazette as “Caesar, the famous barber of York,” in 1775. Freed by his owner in 1779, he was doing business in Williamsburg under the name John Hope and had purchased and freed his own son, Aberdeen.

“Every day at Colonial Williamsburg we share with our guests the remarkable lives of African-Americans who comprised more than half our city at the time of our nation’s birth,” said Colonial Williamsburg President and CEO Mitchell B. Reiss. “Along with his fellow characters like Gowan Pamphlet, Aggy Randolph, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, John Hope offers guests a window on the courage and complexity that define America’s enduring story.”

Hope’s Barber Shop is available to guests with tickets from the north side of Duke of Gloucester Street between the Palace Green and Market Square. It will be open Sundays through Thursdays from 10-12 p.m. and from 1:30-3:30 p.m. starting October 1.