Annual Report 2006
Raising the Curtain
You may have seen the photographs: images of a boy or a girl on father’s shoulders, cheering and waving a three-cornered hat, participating in a Duke of Gloucester Street drama, the lively reenactment of a real event from the days when the men and women of 18th-century Williamsburg transformed themselves from subjects to citizens. That glimpse of our new Revolutionary City programming is a snapshot of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s achievements in 2006. It is, to me, emblematic of what Colonial Williamsburg is becoming, an illustration of what this special place and institution is doing to assure that 21st-century audiences grasp the meaning of a town, a community, that is a part of every American citizen. Our goal is that they understand this as a place focused on them.
For the past few years, we have been designing, building, and setting the stage for the presentation. In 2006, we raised the curtain on an experience that, in all its components, is engaging and appealing, at once educational and dramatic, that makes strong emotional connections between guests and those formative events of the 1770s that continue to shape choices today.
The reviews have been encouraging, and so are the results.
The highly anticipated Revolutionary City program premiered in the Historic Area creating a spontaneous real-time feel to Williamsburg during the years of the American Revolution. Guests participate in the everyday life of the city during world-changing historic events as they witness a society transforming from subjects of the monarchy to citizens of a new nation.
Admissions advanced 5 percent, the biggest one-year increase since the 1980s, to 767,000; our Education for Citizenship emphasis garnered more and stronger support; and our first comprehensive fundraising campaign surpassed by $10 million its $500 million goal.
Total revenue climbed almost 5 percent, we introduced the renovated and restored Williamsburg Lodge with its new conference center, and we unveiled a Governor’s Palace refurnished and rearranged to look as it did in 1775, complementing the Revolutionary City theme.
We enhanced and reopened the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum after updating the fire prevention system; attracted the support of a record 115,000 donors, whose $14 million in contributions to the Colonial Williamsburg Fund were 5 percent more than the year before; and, through outreach programming, reached the most people in our 81-year history.
The voyage of the Godspeed up the East Coast carried the news of Historic Triangle plans for Jamestown’s 400th anniversary. We created a regional welcome center for 2007’s commemoration of the event, and Colonial Williamsburg serves as a Founding Colony sponsor of America’s 400th anniversary.
Guests were treated to behind-the-scenes makeover tours of the Governor’s Palace as it was refurbished to reflect the lifestyle of the last royal governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, and his family.
Colonial Williamsburg’s Regency Room was named to the 2006 Fine Dining Hall of Fame by Nation’s Restaurant News, which welcomed only nine others from across the country for this special designation.
On January 14, 2006, Timothy M. Kaine joined an elite group of public servants taking the gubernatorial oath of office in Williamsburg, the first capital of the Commonwealth. The only other governors of the Commonwealth of Virginia to be inaugurated at the colonial Capitol were Patrick Henry on June 29, 1776, and Thomas Jefferson on June 1, 1779.
Guests join Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Trades carpenters to raise the frame of a tobacco barn at Great Hopes Plantation. The completed barn will further enhance the interpretation of life on a typical Virginia farm.
The Merchants Square and Resort Historic District, containing retail shops and the Foundation’s flagship hotels, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Nation’s Restaurant News inducted the Williamsburg Inn’s Regency Room into its Fine Dining Hall of Fame, and our architectural collections and conservation experts were recognized by the Vernacular Architecture Forum for post-Katrina Gulf recovery efforts.
Timothy M. Kaine became the first governor of Virginia to be inaugurated at the historic Capitol in Williamsburg since Thomas Jefferson took the oath in 1779. Perennially strong, products revenues grew in 2006 while helping to extend the Foundation’s mission, and the market value of our endowment after withdrawals to support operations grew 9 percent to more than $777 million.
In 2006, the prospective positive returns on our investments in programming, facilities, and marketing communications became ever plainer to Colonial Williamsburg, its supporters, and guests.
Attendance, press clippings, and guest surveys persuaded us that none of those investments was more important than the creation of Revolutionary City—the daily, two-hour, managed-access street-theater presentations of Williamsburg life before and during the War for Independence. The media notices—more than 225 stories, spread through 130 news outlets reaching 25 million people—reinforce our belief that today’s audiences respond enthusiastically when Colonial Williamsburg introduces fresh thinking to its programming. We learned that theater presented by trained actor-interpreters—each spent 11 weeks in classroom preparation and study—appeals to our visitors, and the authenticity to which we are so deeply committed improves the performance. Staff scholars ensured that authenticity by participating in content development, assisting in instruction, and advising on the use of historic structures and sites. We experienced the benefits of applying the same high standards of faithfulness to history to the stories we told elsewhere, on site and off. No institution like ours reaches, through the variety of its programs, as many people as Colonial Williamsburg. Our task is to improve and enhance that reach and impact while remaining faithful to our mission.
Colonial Williamsburg sharpened its appeals to families and children through the addition of costumed youth interpreters to street scenes and through the creation of engaging, interactive Historic Area opportunities. Among the innovations were three Kids Holiday Weekends, in-character conversations with Revolutionary City “extras,” in-place instruction in such subjects as 18th-century dance, and trades shop apprentice tours—all encouraging direct participation in the experience. The guest-assisted raising of a tobacco barn at Great Hopes Plantation, the Historic Trades carpenters’ program “Building Great Hopes Plantation: Reconstructing Rural Houses by Hand,” and the African American history presentation “Workin’ the Soil, Healing the Soul” had the same effect.
We also personalized the experience by offering digital technology on Historic Area streets. A grant from the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation supported the purchase of portable devices to deliver audio tours that give guests the option of self-paced introductions to Colonial Williamsburg with emphasis on important historical themes.
The same spirit of innovation infused our more formal instructional efforts—the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute, which graduated 500 teachers and attracted 912 more to off-site workshops and videoconferences; the Home Educators Week attended by 3,323 people; and our seven electronic field trips, telecast and Internet streamed, which reached five million students.
The annual two-session conference “Working Wood in the 18th-Century,” which explored chair making, was a resounding success. “Celebrating the American Garden: Spaces for Relaxing and Entertaining” was the theme of the well-attended 60th annual Colonial Williamsburg Garden Symposium. Award-winning presenters drew appreciative audiences to the 58th annual Colonial Williamsburg Antiques Forum, “In Search of the Past: Restoring and Furnishing America’s Historic Sites.” A behind-the-scenes Governor’s Palace makeover tour gave guests the opportunity to see the Foundation’s conservators and curators translating research into realism.
Colonial Williamsburg remained a popular destination for school groups and classes studying American history, and in 2006, we took Colonial Williamsburg into even more classrooms. In partnership with textbook publisher Pearson Scott Foresman, the Foundation placed a series of next-generation student and teacher texts, electronic media, and our proprietary active-learning strategies in 50 percent of the California elementary school system, the nation’s largest. We gave students the chance to have a little fun, too, posting on the Internet a daily jigsaw puzzle and our brain-teasing citizenship quiz.
Colonial Williamsburg’s websites attracted more than 15 million visits from people of all ages in 2006—students looking for homework help, educators engaged in research, teachers and parents looking for visit information, vacationers making travel plans, online readers of the popular history magazine Colonial Williamsburg, and the just plain curious. We are now looking forward to Virtual Williamsburg, a collaboration of the Foundation’s Digital History Center and the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia, which in 2006 began planning three-dimensional, online models of 18th-century Williamsburg for research and exploration.
Through the Foundation’s Internet initiatives run the three central strands of efforts so central to Colonial Williamsburg’s success: educational programming; revenue-producing activities such as hotels, restaurants, and products, which help to underwrite programs; and the marketing effort that communicates this broad range.
Consider WilliamsburgMarketplace.com. In 2006, product sales on this website grew by 20 percent. Sales from the web now account for 42 percent of all direct marketing revenue. Or go to history.org/history/museums/online_exhibits.cfm and see the digital exhibit Pounds, Pence, and Pistareens: The Coins and Currency of Colonial America, featuring gifts from Joseph and Ruth P. Lasser’s rich and important numismatic collection.
Grants, pledges, and gifts like the Lassers’ totaled $52.5 million in 2006 and included Maureen and James W. Gorman’s presentation of the magnificent Lord Dunmore Town Coach. The year’s largest gift was a $5 million endowment for Historic Area programming and program renewal from David Rockefeller, youngest son of Colonial Williamsburg co-founder John D. Rockefeller Jr.
Theresa and Lawrence Salameno of Allendale, New Jersey, pledged $2 million, and Patricia and Peter Frechette of Minneapolis, Minnesota, another $2 million, to endow outreach efforts. John and Linda Muckel of Palos Verdes, California, endowed the Magazine with a $1 million gift. Ambassador Bill and Jean Lane of Menlo Park, California, committed $1 million to endow the position of director of the coach and livestock program, and board of trustees Vice Chairman Richard Tilghman and his spouse, Alice, of Richmond, Virginia, committed $1 million for endowment. Shirley H. and Richard D. Roberts of Virginia Beach, Virginia, endowed the position of director of architectural history with $1 million. Words are inadequate to convey our gratitude for such commitments.
Colonial Williamsburg President Colin Campbell and Nancy Campbell welcome former President George Bush and Barbara Bush at the Williamsburg Inn on the eve of the christening of the George H. W. Bush, last of the US Navy’s Nimitiz-class aircraft carriers. The ship’s builder, Northrop Grumman of Newport News, Va., hosted a dinner in the Virginia Room of the Williamsburg Lodge, while the George Bush Presidential Library hosted a gala in the Colony Room.
Colonial Williamsburg dedicated the Courtyard of Philanthropy to honor major donors whose generous gifts help advance the Foundation’s mission. Names of benefactors are placed on the brick wall beneath the flags of the 13 original states at the entrance plaza to the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center. The Courtyard of Philanthropy is a prominent landmark honoring 65 lifetime donors of $1 million and above. Future donors will be honored as their giving level reaches the $1 million mark.
Colonial Williamsburg’s Productions, Publications, and Learning Ventures division provided key production support services for Jamestown Live!, a one-hour educational webcast from Jamestown Settlement. Students from all 50 states and 13 countries gathered to join students online to learn about three of Jamestown’s enduring legacies—exploration, diversity, and self-government. The live webcast was hosted by PBS senior correspondent Gwen Ifill (center) and included interviews with Jim Horn (left), Colonial Williamsburg’s vice president of research, and Rex Ellis (right), vice president of the Historic Area.
Presentation of the Foundation’s messages and mission to distant and diverse audiences—to more than 20 million people by electronic outreach in 2006—is essential to Colonial Williamsburg’s future. We approached the job at a one-to-one level by meeting friends, new and existing, at such gatherings as Godspeed sail functions in Alexandria, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Newport, and Boston. In somewhat broader examples of outreach, Colonial Williamsburg produced 52 new image-enhanced podcasts; the CDs From Ear to Ear, Fourth of July, and Storytelling Festival 2006; and the books Jamestown, Williamsburg, Yorktown—The Official Guide to America’s Historic Triangle and 1607: Jamestown and the New World released early in 2007.
The Official Guide to America’s Historic Triangle is a fine example of what was done in 2006 and before to prepare the Foundation for, and to support, America’s 400th anniversary. As a Founding Colony sponsor of the commemoration, Colonial Williamsburg worked closely with anniversary planners and provided, among other things, satellite, sound, video, and Internet services for Jamestown Live!, a program moderated by the Public Broadcasting Service’s Gwen Ifill and webcast to students in 50 states and 13 countries studying exploration, diversity, and self-government.
All these activities point toward achievment of a major objective: to increase substantially the numbers of people that come to the Historic Triangle and partake of Colonial Williamsburg’s lively programming and citizenship message, as well as the attractive resort, dining, and shopping opportunities that help to sustain the core mission.
There is a synergistic aspect to the relationship of Colonial Williamsburg’s hospitality businesses to its educational enterprises. The resort attracts guests to the Historic Area and vice versa. The income generated is crucial; it goes toward Colonial Williamsburg’s primary enterprise, education.
We improved the resort’s appeal, and gave people more reasons to stay with us, when we completed the phased renovation of the Lodge and opened its Nicholas and Tyler guesthouses as well as the 45,000-square-foot conference center. Room revenues advanced more than 12 percent in 2006.
Concurrently, the reopening of the Lodge gift shop, as well as the Museum Store at the DeWitt Wallace site, brought all our retail outlets back on line, and they had new products to offer. In 2006, we licensed eight more vendors: Campania, for garden products; Ellery, for bedding and window treatments; Hudson Valley Lighting, for interior fixtures; Reed & Barton, for stainless and sterling flatware and gifts; Sedgefield by Adams, for brass lighting and giftware; SPI, for garden products; Troy-CSL, for exterior light fixtures; and Windham, for quilt fabric.
Revolutionary City actor-interpreters joined guests at special tavern breakfasts during the year. The hospitality press celebrated the Williamsburg Inn’s Regency Room, which earned the American Automobile Association’s Four Diamond rating and Four Stars from the Mobil Travel Guide.
The Inn again made Condé Nast Traveler magazine’s Gold List and Travel & Leisure magazine’s roster of 500 Great Hotels in the World. The Golden Horseshoe Golf Club’s Gold and Green courses earned recognition in Zagat’s survey of America’s Top Golf Courses as well as the Condé Nast Traveler 2006 “Reader’s Pick: Top 100 Golf Resorts in the World” poll.
Publicity and marketing are important undertakings. Our broadcast, interactive, and print campaigns draw on research to appeal to media-savvy audiences. Upbeat and memorable, they portray Colonial Williamsburg’s relevance in the life of today’s citizens, connecting across generations. Other advertisements present Colonial Williamsburg resort properties as places drawing on centuries of the American experience to offer opportunities to relax, enjoy 18 holes, and eat well, and maybe serve as a site for your company’s next meeting.
We campaigned for earned airtime and column inches, too. For example, we sent our new home stylist on a tour of nine major media markets and took “The New Traditional” products line to a New York media event that attracted more than 60 editors. On the museum side, coverage of the DeWitt Wallace reopening was extraordinary.
Admissions revenue, which dropped 3 percent from 2005 because of a ticket mix assuring introductory access to the Revolutionary City program, covers but a fraction of operating costs, and there was again in 2006 a substantial operating deficit. The closing of major sections of the Lodge for construction and renovation and start-up costs for new facilities were significant factors. Reducing the shortfall is of primary importance, but a task to be undertaken with care, deliberation, and planning. If there were a quick and sustainable fix, we would already have made it.
Managing an operation as complex as Colonial Williamsburg requires prudent, and sometimes difficult, decisions. We reached a decision about Carter’s Grove in 2006, completing a four-year evaluation and concluding the best approach is to offer it in a fully protected sale. Restrictions will ensure protection of the James River view shed, wetlands and forest, exterior and interior architecture, and archaeological sites on the property as well as prohibit residential and commercial development.
At bottom, the challenge with Carter’s Grove was that it did not connect directly with the focus on presenting Revolutionary-era Williamsburg and was unable to attract sufficient audiences. Audience development—the appeal to rising generations—is fundamental to the Foundation.
In this connection, the success of the Campaign for Colonial Williamsburg and the meaning of that effort are most encouraging. Publicly launched in 2001, the campaign built on a quiet phase during which donors provided $256 million. In the campaign’s final five years, contributors provided 30 gifts of $1 million or more, and from 290,000 individuals came $112.5 million. Planned gifts produced 20 percent of the campaign total. To each person who participated, no matter the size of the gift, my colleagues and I again offer our sincere thanks.
We appreciate as well contributions to our work made by other foundations. In 2006, they included $1 million from the Gladys and Franklin Clark Foundation of Williamsburg, Virginia, for Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum exhibitions; $350,000 for religious programming from the Kern Family Foundation of Waukesha, Wisconsin; and $250,000 for educational outreach from The Pew Charitable Trusts of Philadelphia.
It takes leadership to earn such support, leadership like the kind provided by Vice President for Research Cary Carson, who retired after 30 years of service; Vice President for Operations Andrew Hungerman III, who retired after 10 years of service; and trustees Norman R. Augustine of Potomac, Maryland, Marshall N. Carter of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Richard D. Roberts of Virginia Beach, Virginia, who departed the board after 22 cumulative years of distinguished service.
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation donated three conservation easements to the Williamsburg Land Conservancy on 230 acres of land west of Route 132 in York County, preserving a primary gateway to the Historic Triangle and providing permanent protection for scenic views along the entry to the Colonial Williamsburg Regional Welcome Center. This action preserves the natural environment around Queen’s Creek and protects a significant archaeological site and is an important example of how the Foundation is protecting the vital greenbelt surrounding Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area for future generations. The conservation easements prohibit development on this land, and protect woodlands and wetlands. The Benjamin Powell plantation site, home to a prominent 18th-century builder, is preserved for future archaeological investigation.
A portion of the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum reopened to Colonial Williamsburg guests. Selected objects from the permanent exhibition Masterworks from the Colonial Williamsburg Collection were on display in the introductory gallery while major renovation work continued in the rest of the building.
Colonial Williamsburg President Colin Campbell (center, left), Rex Ellis (center, right), vice president of the Historic Area, and Revolutionary City cast members Hope Smith and Bill Weldon join Hearsay on the Road host Cathy Lewis (left) at the Kimball Theatre for a special live broadcast of the highly regarded program on NPR station WHRV-FM to discuss Colonial Williamsburg’s popular, new interactive street-theater program and other recent initiatives.
The board of trustees elected to their number Thomas F. Farrell II of Richmond, Virginia, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Dominion Resources Inc.; Judith A. McHale of Bethesda, Maryland, immediate past president and CEO of Discovery Communications Inc.; Barbara Bowen Oberg of Princeton, New Jersey, professor and lecturer in the department of history at Princeton University, where she is general editor of the Papers of Thomas Jefferson; and Henry C. Wolf of Norfolk, Virginia, vice chairman and chief financial officer of Norfolk Southern Corporation. They and their colleagues will help lead Colonial Williamsburg into the future.
In the near term, at least at this writing, that future held Revolutionary City improvements and expansion, the opening of The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg, the opening of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in its new home at the DeWitt Wallace Museum site, exciting initiatives in distance learning, partnerships in outreach with textbook publisher Prentice Hall and with MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, innovative use of technology in support of research and citizenship programs, and such Jamestown events as Queen Elizabeth II’s spring visit and the 400th anniversary weekend in May followed by autumn’s World Forum on the Future of Democracy.
All of these opportunities will be informed by the successes and lessons of 2006. On that basis, we turned to 2007 with confidence and optimism, as a year of great promise. This is, after all, an institution persuaded of the idea that the future may learn from the past—and in the process, improve upon the present.
Thank you for your interest and support.
Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer.
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation