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June 5, 2012

Colonial Williamsburg Receives Gift to Support Historic Architecture Preservation

The Grainger Foundation of Lake Forest, Ill., has provided a $2 million gift to support Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Architectural Resources Department. The gift will provide initial endowment funding for the department and money for a variety of preservation projects.

“We are exceedingly grateful to The Grainger Foundation for this latest gift,” said Colin G. Campbell, president and CEO of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “It provides critical funding as we seek to meet our obligation to preserve the restored colonial capital for generations to come.”

One million dollars of the gift will be used to partially endow the position of director of Historic Architectural Resources. The position is currently held by Matthew Webster, who is responsible for ensuring careful, ongoing conservation of nearly 600 Historic Area structures — including 88 original 18th-century buildings. The director works with Historic Trades artisans and facilities maintenance staff to develop innovative approaches to making sensitive repairs to buildings that range from the early 18th century to the present. Drawing on the talents and insights of the Historic Trades staff, he shares architectural and structural expertise in methods and processes with Colonial Williamsburg’s modern maintenance craftsmen.

The gift also includes $800,000 to endow a departmental fund for projects, equipment and training. When fully endowed, the fund will produce sufficient revenue to address emerging preservation issues and provide additional opportunities to increase the expertise of Colonial Williamsburg craftsmen. Equipment needs reflect recent architectural preservation advances that include sophisticated tools for assessing and analyzing original structures and materials without causing unnecessary damage.

Training funds will educate maintenance and construction employees in new investigative methods, historic materials and techniques, and provide networking opportunities with other professionals vital to maintaining Colonial Williamsburg’s preservation expertise. These funds also will support expanding the skills of the Historic Trades staff, as well as providing internships and workshops to develop the necessary skill sets for the next generation of preservation craftsmen. The gift enables Colonial Williamsburg to assist other historic sites by sharing knowledge and techniques with the worldwide preservation community.

The third element of the gift provides $200,000 to support Colonial Williamsburg’s masonry preservation initiative. With new research and analytical tools, Colonial Williamsburg is developing solutions for preserving its public buildings, trade shops, and homes in non-intrusive ways. This effort will preserve the structural fabric of the Historic Area by addressing brick, stone and mortar needs of 55 structures. Sophisticated analytical tools allow determination of the original masonry formulation, which Colonial Williamsburg produces on-site and uses to replace earlier repairs that have deteriorated over time.

The Grainger Foundation, an independent, private foundation based in Lake Forest, Ill., was established in 1949 by William W. Grainger, founder of W.W. Grainger, Inc. The foundation is one of Colonial Williamsburg’s most generous benefactors with several previous gifts and grants for Historic Area and museum initiatives, including Historic Trades apprenticeships, endowment of a curatorial position and support for museum exhibitions and publications.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program. Explore The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and discover the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum featuring the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670 – 1830 and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, comprising more than 5,000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Colonial Williamsburg Hotels feature conference spaces and recreation activities from spa and fine dining to world-class golf. Colonial Williamsburg is committed to expanding its thought-provoking programming through education outreach on-site and online. Purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the preservation, research and educational programs of the Foundation. Philanthropic support by individuals, corporations, and foundations benefits the educational mission of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

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. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

Media Contact:
Jim Bradley
(757) 220-7281