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May 7, 2004

$3 million completes ten-year, $25 million Annenberg commitment

A final installment of $3 million recently received from the Annenberg Foundation fulfills a $25 million pledge made more than a decade ago by Walter and Lee Annenberg for unrestricted use by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

That commitment, made in 1993, provided the funding that gave the go-ahead to the acclaimed Bruton Heights School Education Center project. Colonial Williamsburg President and Chairman Colin G. Campbell expressed his profound gratitude to the Annenbergs for their generosity in making the Bruton Heights project a reality and “a transforming event in the life of this institution.”

The $25 million total gift represents one of the largest gifts ever to Colonial Williamsburg, and pushed the Annenbergs’ cumulative support for the foundation to more than $31 million. The Annenberg legacy to Colonial Williamsburg began in 1977 with an unrestricted gift of $100,000. That first pledge also included an additional $10,000 gift annually, “or at least until my philanthropic funds run out,” wrote the late Mr. Annenberg, a former U.S. ambassador to Great Britain and Ireland. “No thinking American can deny that Colonial Williamsburg is a stirring inspiration for all Americans. It is only fair that all citizens across our country be asked to assume a share of the costs. Truly the future of Colonial Williamsburg rests with the American people.”

A media and publishing leader and one of America’s foremost philanthropists, he and Mrs. Annenberg – both life members of the Raleigh Tavern Society, Colonial Williamsburg’s foremost donor recognition group – continued their support with a $1 million gift in 1983 for renovations to the Visitor Center, followed by a $5 million gift for Bruton Heights in 1989, which Colonial Williamsburg used to plan the Bruton Heights project.

The Bruton Heights project was a multi-year Colonial Williamsburg initiative that transformed a former Williamsburg school for African-American children into a 30-acre complex housing one of the nation’s leading centers for scholarship, research, conservation, storage and collection of materials and artifacts related to 18th-century America. The facilities include the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, the DeWitt Wallace Collections and Conservation Building and Colonial Williamsburg’s educational outreach facilities, home of the foundation’s Electronic Field Trips -- interactive programs on early American history broadcast live to over a million schoolchildren around the nation each year.

In 1993, Colonial Williamsburg awarded the Annenbergs with the Churchill Bell, named after its first recipient, former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, as a tribute to the Annenberg’s generosity, leadership, philanthropy and public service to the foundation. Upon Walter Annenberg’s death in 2002 at age 94, Campbell said, “Walter Annenberg had a transforming impact on Colonial Williamsburg. His extraordinary philanthropy will be felt for generations to come.”

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that restores, preserves and operates the 18th-century capital of Virginia and its 301-acre Historic Area. Gifts to Colonial Williamsburg support program presentations in Historic Area buildings, trade shops and museums, acquisition and conservation of art and artifacts, building preservation and maintenance, production of publications and audiovisual programs and the research, documentation and interpretive training fundamental to the foundation’s educational activities. Williamsburg is located 150 miles south of Washington, D.C.

For information about gift opportunities, contact Sarah Houghland, director of development services, toll-free at (888) 293-1776, via e-mail at or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

Media Contact:
Jim Bradley
(757) 220-7281