Historic Area Programming Prepares Way for Innovation
Photo by Dave Doody
Illuminated by experience, research, and innovation, new days are dawning on Colonial Williamsburg's Historic Area programming.
THE COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG Foundation's Historic Area in 2004 portrayed the life and times of 230 years before. The 1774 story—a town and people on the eve of revolution—has long been the programming platform in Virginia's restored eighteenth-century capital. This year, it became the backdrop to exploring innovative ways to tell the story of the Revolution itself.
Informed by intensive planning and a comprehensive foundation approach to programming, interpreters experimented with thematic weeks tied to the seasons of the year. Themes included: The Gunpowder Incident, Prelude to Independence, In Support of Boston, Call for a Congress: The First Virginia Convention, The Revolution Comes Home, and Dunmore's Proclamation.
Programming reflected the ebb and flow of the year with offerings for National Religious Freedom Day, Religion in American Life Month, Presidents Weekend, Black History Month, Women's History Month, Memorial Day, Independence Weekend, and Veterans Weekend.
Programming to broaden the picture of the colonial town introduced links to American Indians and the French and Indian War. New programming on the events of 1773–76 laid the groundwork for 2005 interpretations of the winter of 1773, spring of 1774, summer of 1776, and fall of 1775. Each season will highlight the experiences of the community and the events behind them during critical years in the birth of the nation and its new culture—preparing the way for further program innovation in 2006 and 2007.
Photo by Hans Lorenz
Among the additions to the museums is this miniature portrait of Lord Dunmore, the last royal governor of Virginia.
Conservator Shelley Svoboda works on the Shaw parlor, which will be reinstalled in the new, larger Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum.
Collections and Museums Division Is on the Move
IN 2004, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's collections and museums staff completed plans for construction of a new Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum adjacent to the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Working with Alspector Anderson Architects, the team designed a state-of-the-art facility featuring eleven spacious, guest-friendly galleries for better display of the foundation's American folk art collection. Funded in significant measure through donor gifts, the more accessible facility is to open in October 2006. After closing the original folk art museum at the end of 2004, the staff presented two interim folk art exhibitions at the Wallace Museum.
They dismantled the 1836 Alexander Shaw parlor, a colorfully painted and decorated room rescued from a long-demolished North Carolina house and first installed at the original AARFAM in 1957. Conservators began the complex cleaning and stabilization of the grained and marbleized paneling, and discovered brilliant, well-preserved colors beneath later overpaint. The room will be reassembled at the new facility.
The exhibition Degrees of Latitude: Mapping Colonial America opened at the Wallace Museum early in 2004 after showings at museums in the Northeast and the Midwest. Drawn from Colonial Williamsburg's collection of historic maps, the exhibit explores subjects from politics to settlement. Curator Margaret Pritchard's definitive book of the same name accompanied the show. Also new in 2004 was American Furniture: Virginia to Vermont, an exhibition that examines regional differences in American cabinetmaking during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
In the Historic Area, curators carried out the first stages of long-standing plans to enhance the veracity of furnishings in the Capitol. The Governor's Council Chamber was fitted out with the original ceremonial chair made for the colony's chief executive in the 1750s, as well as an eighteenth-century glass chandelier akin to one ordered for the room more than 250 years ago, and a re-creation of the council's well-documented circulating library. Curators will enrich the ensemble of historic furnishings in 2005.
Educational Outreach Takes Foundation Story to Nation
THE COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG Foundation's Productions, Publications, and Learning Ventures division presents the story of Virginia's restored eighteenth-century capital to audiences across the United States, and extends the mission and brand of Colonial Williamsburg. In 2004, partnering with national textbook publisher Scott Foresman, the foundation contributed seventeen textbook presentations on early American history for grades 1–6, and created the interactive CD-ROMs Primary Sources, Grades 1–3 and Grades 4–6, which challenge students to "think like a historian."
Colonial Williamsburg's Teacher Institute introduced 1,035 elementary, middle, and high school teachers to early American history and learning techniques that will inspire their students.
The sponsorship of President David J. Serlo of PSCU Financial Services, and member credit unions, took Colonial Williamsburg's nationally televised classroom events called electronic field trips and teacher development programs to hundreds of American schools—thanks in part to the advocacy of Pat Hill, a member of the foundation's leading donor group, the Raleigh Tavern Society, and public relations consultant for PSCU Financial Services.
The foundation premiered three electronic field trips in 2004 and rebroadcast four. The publications department issued Holiday Fare: Favorite Williamsburg Recipes, by John R. Gonzales; Colonial Houses: The Historic Homes of Williamsburg, Hugh Howard, editor; Spreading the Gospel in Colonial Virginia: Sermons and Devotional Writings, in full and abridged editions, Edward L. Bond, editor; and, for children, D is for Drums: A Colonial Williamsburg ABC, by Kay Chorao.
In the audio and visual area, Jefferson and Adams: A Stage Play, written by Howard Ginsberg, premiered on DVD.
The Colonial Williamsburg Web site featured Politics, Elections & the Presidency: A Video Conversation with Thomas Jefferson, an eleven-week series of the third president's reflections on the electoral process. Christmas in Williamsburg, promoted the Historic Area's history, decorations, calendar of events, dining, and shopping opportunities.
Photo by Dave Doody
A national summit on obesity, sponsored by Time and ABC News, was hosted by Colonial Williamsburg for three days in June and drew more than 400 participants. Peter Jennings broadcast the ABC Nightly News from behind the Governor's Palace.
Research Efforts Central to Colonial Williamsburg
THE STAFF OF THE RESEARCH DIVISION participates in preservation, conservation, collections building, rare books and archives management, editing, training, field research, writing and publishing, classroom teaching, Web site development, administration of adult education programs, and interpretation to the public. Two projects loomed larger than others in 2004.
Theater research: Williamsburg in the eighteenth century was home to North America's first theater and, before the end of the colonial period, to three commercial theaters. Five years ago, the foundation's archaeologists discovered and excavated the site of the most celebrated, one to which Thomas Jefferson repaired almost every free evening during the court season. Research in American and British archives reveals that David Douglass, a Scot who operated playhouses from New York to Jamaica, built it in 1760. Gifts from Carole Crocker, Helen Lee Henderson, and the Serenbetz Foundation enabled our historians to investigate the remains of the Douglass Theatre, record the best surviving English playhouse of the period, and confer with leading authorities on eighteenth-century playhouse design. Further research, including study drawings and a computer model, are expected by the end of 2005.
Division Web site: The Digital History Center at the foundation's John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library had already used grants from the Andrew Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities to put large parts of the library's early American collections on Colonial Williamsburg's Web site. In 2004, division staff helped the center combine those materials with Web pages that will make available to the public selected archaeological, architectural, architectural conservation, and historical research files, and a trove of drawings, photographs, and reports.
Among other projects, the division took part in completing the College Corner Building on Merchants Square designed by British architect Quinlan Terry, endowing the visiting scholars fellowship program at the Rockefeller Library, launching a new cataloguing system, supporting the latest revision of the Becoming Americans interpretive plan, and rehousing the foundation's collection of historic architectural elements.
Photo by Dave Doody
Steve Donald Paige, left, and Dan Moore work in the rafters of the granary, the latest structure in the Randolph urban plantation complex.
Peyton Randolph Urban Plantation Re-created
COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG HAS re-created the Historic Area's largest eighteenth-century domestic complex: Peyton Randolph's urban plantation. Sixteen donors contributed to the decades-long reconstruction of the site's outbuildings. The largest contribution was a $1.5 million gift from Carole Davis Crocker of Lake City, Florida, which provided for the reconstruction and endowment of the property's kitchen and covered walkway.
Begun in the 1960s, the reconstruction introduces guests to the home, family, and slaves that shaped Randolph's private and public life. Elected to the House of Burgesses in 1748 to represent Williamsburg, he became its speaker in 1766, and was president of the Continental Congresses in 1774 and 1775. He died in Philadelphia in 1775, leaving his widow, Betty, to manage the property and twenty-seven slaves.
The Randolph site has become a premier Historic Area attraction. The house, which survives largely intact, was rejoined to the kitchen and slave quarters in 2000 with a reproduction of an original covered walkway that sheltered people carrying food and laundry to the residence. On the basis of archaeological findings, Colonial Williamsburg reconstructed a granary, storehouses, a smokehouse, dairies, and a well on original foundations to complete the restoration.
Foundation carpenters, joiners, bricklayers, and plasterers interpreted their trades at the site during the project, engaging guests in such efforts as raising the kitchen and granary walls.
Interpretation of the Randolph site opens a window to the range of society in Virginia's restored eighteenth-century capital. The public and powerful personages are met in the house itself, and the outbuildings provide opportunities to present the lives of women and slaves.
Churchill Bell Awarded to Browns
THE FOUNDATION presented its highest honor, the Churchill Bell, to the late Charles L. Brown, former chairman of the board, and to his wife, Ann Lee Saunders Brown, for institutional leadership, commitment to education, and generosity in the cause of freedom. At a December 4, 2004, board of trustees dinner, Ann Lee Brown accepted the Bell on the couple's behalf.
Brown, former head of AT&T, became a Colonial Williamsburg trustee in 1979, and was elected chairman in 1986, serving until 1991. While he was chairman, the foundation expanded educational programs and services, implemented a seven-year strategic plan, and introduced African American interpretive programs. He was also co-chair of the Raleigh Tavern Society from 1991 until his death in 2003 at age eighty-two.
The Browns were members of Colonial Williamsburg's National Council and created the Charles L. and Ann Lee Saunders Brown Endowment for the Teaching of History. Ann Lee Brown also made a gift for stables construction, and has supported the stables and livestock programs and their staff.
gifts support new programs and staff training and educational outreach, among
many other foundation activities. They are also crucial to helping maintain the
almost 500 original and reconstructed buildings in the Historic Area, which
require conservation and preservation by the skilled staff at Colonial
Photo by Dave Doody
Products Division Increases Institutional Contributions
CHANGE, TARGETED GROWTH, and brand expansion characterized 2004 for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's products division. This segment of Colonial Williamsburg's operations increased its contributions to the institution by controlling expenses and increasing direct marketing and licensing revenue.
WILLIAMSBURG At Home opened in Merchants Square in June, as the Craft House at the Inn closed its doors after decades of service to foundation customers. The new store merges Colonial Williamsburg's casual and formal home furnishing collections. In March, Williamsburg Celebrations began business in Merchants Square, offering collectibles and garden accessories in the space formerly occupied by WILLIAMSBURG Pure Simple Today.
The retail stores, catalog, and e-commerce operations unified their message under the umbrella "WILLIAMSBURG Marketplace," as the division made communications more cohesive and expanded guest service.
The Visitor Center store, opposite the bookstore at the north entrance, was renamed Revolutions.
Direct marketing achieved record revenue results through strong holiday sales and growth on the Web site: www.williamsburgmarketplace.com.
Launches of the Language of the Garden fabric collection by Waverly, and the WILLIAMSBURG Color Collection by Pratt & Lambert paints, highlighted the licensing year.
The Waverly agreement added supportive products to the licensee line, and the Pratt & Lambert collaboration extends WILLIAMSBURG to more retailers and includes thirty-eight new colors.
The foundation's home furnishings offerings also grew with the additions of licensees Global Views for decorative accessories, NDI for permanent botanicals, and Oriental Accent for lighting.
The division initiated a strong and thoughtful marketing plan for 2005 to bring continuity of message and increase brand strength through all distribution channels.
Income from Colonial Williamsburg's retail operations supports the foundation's educational activities and programs.
Photo by Tom Green
Ya-Ni Tseng of Taipei won the Women's Amateur Public Links tournament at the Golden Horseshoe's Green Golf Course.
Photo by Barbara Lombardi
Room model for the renovation and expansion of the Williamsburg Lodge, which is to be complete by 2006.
Hospitality Operations Support Educational Activities
INCOME FROM HOSPITALITY operations supports Colonial Williamsburg's educational activities and programs. The Williamsburg Lodge's phased renovation and restoration moved from design to construction in 2004. Work on the main building and Tazewell and South Wings started, as did erection of the sixty-room East Guest Houses, to open in mid 2005. Model guest rooms were built to show the prospects for the hotel's business and resort guests. When the project is done in autumn 2006, the Lodge will have 323 guest rooms and a 45,000 square foot conference center.
Plans for a spa and fitness center to serve Lodge and Williamsburg Inn guests advanced. The spa is to occupy the adjacent building that housed the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, which is moving.
The historic taverns diversified to better serve Historic Area guests. Chowning's began offering Colonial Quick Fare, leaving á-la-carte dining experiences to The King's Arms and Campbell's Taverns. Colonial Williamsburg announced that in 2005 Shields Tavern would re-open as an eighteenth-century coffeehouse, providing light fare and beverages, and interpretive experiences.
The Inn was again on the Condé Nast Traveler magazine's Gold List, and recognized by Travel & Leisure magazine as one of the "Top 100 Hotels in the World. "Departures Readers Favorites Survey," published by American Express, spotlighted the Inn as the second-most popular boutique hotel in the nation.
The Inn's Regency Room again earned the American Automobile Association's Four Diamond rating, the Distinguished Restaurants of North America Award, and Wine Spectator magazine's Award of Excellence. Colonial Williamsburg's hotel properties earned Corporate Travel & Incentive magazine's Award of Excellence.
The USGA Women's Amateur Public Links Championship was played at the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club—which earned one of Golf Magazine's eight national gold medals. Golf Digest recognized the Golden Horseshoe as a Five Star course—one of sixteen nationally. Condé Nast Traveler magazine cited the Inn and Golden Horseshoe complex as among the "75 Top Golf Resorts around the World."