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May 29, 2003

Colonial Williamsburg Awarded Grant to Conserve Photographic Record of Foundation's Restoration

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded a $25,000 Conservation Project Support grant to Colonial Williamsburg to conserve 555 photographic negatives recording the foundation’s restoration. The restoration, which began in 1926, was the dream of the Rev. Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. Today the restored colonial capital is comprised of 88 original buildings and more than 300 other structures that have been reconstructed, most on their original foundations.

“No other source illustrates as comprehensively Colonial Williamsburg’s renowned Historic Area before, during and after restoration,” said James Horn, director of the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library and deputy research division administrator. “Unfortunately, many of the negatives are deteriorating rapidly and have had to be put into cold storage to slow down further degradation. We are therefore delighted to have been awarded this grant from the IMLS Conservation Project Support program, which will allow us to create high-quality duplicate negatives for general use while retiring the originals to safe permanent storage."

“The Institute of Museum and Library Services strives to raise the visibility of conservation as a cornerstone of museum practice,” said IMLS Director Robert Martin. “With funding from the IMLS Conservation Project Support grant program, museums are able to care for collections that encompass the artistic, historical and scientific heritage of our nation.”

The John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library houses the historical negative collection that consists of 11,000 images of Colonial Williamsburg’s restoration. These materials represent the work of numerous architects, consultants, contractors and professional photographers dating from the late 1920s to the early 1940s. As restoration progressed, photographs documented every step. In some cases, the negatives of some 18th-century buildings now serve as their only existing record.

Highlights of this valuable photographic archive include images by New York photographer F.S. Lincoln, who was contracted in 1935 to produce architectural photographs of the completed restoration; Frank Richard Nivison, who worked from 1930-35 to take detailed photographs of each building; Arthur A. Shurcliff, Colonial Williamsburg’s first landscape architect (1928-1941), whose photos were used as precedents for the restoration of buildings and gardens in Williamsburg; and Washington, D.C., photographer Theodor Horydczak, who took pictures of Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown during the 1930s.

Today the historic collection is used by outside researchers and Colonial Williamsburg employees to trace the evolution of the foundation’s restoration and to provide material for ongoing research.

IMLS’s Conservation Project Support awards fund a wide range of projects to help museums safeguard their collections, including conservation training, surveys and treatment. These grants, which are awarded by a competitive peer review process, help museums undertake their most critical conservation activities.

Known worldwide as the nation’s largest living history museum, Colonial Williamsburg recently was recognized as the “Best Historic Site” by readers of Southern Living magazine for the seventh straight year. Colonial Williamsburg is located 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information or reservations, call toll-free (800) HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s web site at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121