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August 29, 2008

CW's Bassett Hall offers garden, Catesby tours this fall

Enjoy the beauty and splendor of the 1940’s gardens at Bassett Hall, the Williamsburg home of Colonial Williamsburg benefactors John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his wife Abby Aldrich Rockefeller.

During a Bassett Hall Garden Tour, guests can enjoy a walk in the Rockefellers’ garden with an interpreter at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Sept. 25-Oct. 16. The tour presents a history of the garden, the Rockefellers’ involvement in developing the garden and the garden’s restoration.

The tour presents a history of the garden, the Rockefeller’s involvement in developing the garden and the garden’s restoration. The Rockefellers spent a few weeks at Bassett Hall in the spring and fall. The garden was timed to bloom during their visits.

Arthur Shurcliff, landscape architect for Colonial Williamsburg, also is discussed on the tour, especially his involvement with landscapes in the Historic Area and Bassett Hall. The tour ends in front of the site of the Great Oak.

Nature, Art and Science explores the natural world with Mark Catesby, America’s first environmentalist, portrayed by Colonial Williamsburg interpreter Robb Warren. The walking tour takes place at 11 a.m. on Mondays beginning Sept. 15 and continues through Oct. 13. The tour meets at the Bassett Hall reception center.

Mark Catesby, a self-taught botanist, accompanied his sister to Williamsburg in 1712 and began studying and painting the flora and fauna of Virginia. During a second trip to the colonies he travelled to the Carolinas, Florida and the Bahamas where he observed, documented and collected plant and animal specimens. He published his findings in “Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands between 1731 and 1734.” It was the first published, fully illustrated book on the flora and fauna of North America.

A Colonial Williamsburg admissions ticket, Good Neighbor Card or museums ticket provides access to enjoy the Basset Hall tours. Both programs will be held weather permitting.

A two-story 18th-century frame house near Colonial Williamsburg's Capitol, Bassett Hall is set on a 585-acre tract of woodlands. In addition to the home, the property includes a teahouse and three original outbuildings: a smokehouse, kitchen and dairy. Bassett Hall is located at 522 E. Francis St. and is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except on Wednesdays.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City®,” a dramatic live street theater presentation, is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121