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Around the Foundation

A company fires near the Magazine

Near the Magazine, Colonial Williamsburg interpreter Richard Schumann as Patrick Henry, left, gives the company the order to fire. The restructured department of public history development offered new programs to illuminate and enrich the "Becoming Americans" story line that links Historic Area presentations.

Historic Area Programming

Following a six-year rollout of the themes for "Becoming Americans: Our Struggle to Be Both Free and Equal," Colonial Williamsburg's 2003 programs focused on the experiences of the town's and Virginia's residents in 1774. The rolling thunder of the American Revolution began to be heard that year in the colony, and storms started to build among its people. The year 1774 is rich with the events that led to the formation of the nation. The Revolution is an important spine for the body of the story that speaks to the trials and tribulations of everyday life during the colonial period.

Monthly programming reflected the seasons of the year by creating offerings representing national observances and significant historical events. Special programming was introduced for National Religious Freedom Day and Religion in American Life Month, Presidents Weekend, Black History Month, Women's History Month, Memorial Day, Independence Weekend, and Veterans Weekend.

Other seasonal programs visited milestones from 1774 to 1781. The arrival of Lady Dunmore in 1774, when the town still had a cordial relationship with the royal governor's aristocratic family; the British occupation of Williamsburg in 1781 during the War for Independence; the role of free and enslaved African Americans during the war; and the town's use as a staging area by the Continental Army in the defeat of the British at Yorktown were special programs that guests enjoyed as they learned about everyday life in the eighteenth century.

Robin Reed, project director at the Smithsonian's American History Museum Behring Center, arrived in May as the director of the newly restructured department of public history development. This department is responsible for planning day and evening programs with attention to their content and quality. In addition, its charge is to begin planning with the objective of setting programs twelve months before presentation.

The Language of Clothing exhibit

In 2003, the award-winning Language of Clothing exhibit at the decorative arts museum was one of several on display.

Collections and Museums

The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum opened exhibitions in 2003 that demonstrated the scope of the nation's oldest and best-known collection of American folk art. Heavy Metal featured whimsical yet functional American ironwork, including weather-vanes, fire backs, garden furniture, and even a nineteenth-century parlor stove in the shape of George Washington. In Tramp Art, guests encountered the intricate, chip-carved furniture and ornaments made of recycled wood by American men at the turn of the twentieth century, and the painting techniques of Pennsylvania folk artist Edward Hicks were explored in Decorative Details. The museum also hosted Lions & Eagles & Bulls, the Connecticut Historical Society's traveling exhibition of antique signboards from New England inns and taverns.

The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum premiered Different by Design, which looked at the transfer of American furniture styles from place to place before the age of mass communication. The Language of Clothing, a showing of Colonial Williamsburg's historic apparel collection, won the Richard Martin Award for Excellence in the Exhibition of Costume, an honor bestowed annually by the Costume Society of America. Also new in 2003 was Pewter at Colonial Williamsburg, a display of American and British pewter from 1650 to 1830. The exhibition celebrated publication of an award-winning book of the same title by John D. Davis, the Samuel and Pauline Clarke Curator and curator of metals.

Colonial Williamsburg continued to share its collections with the nation through the traveling exhibition Furniture of the American South, which opened to audiences at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh and the Cheekwood Museum of Art in Nashville. Degrees of Latitude, featuring historic maps of America, traveled to the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Concord Museum in Massachusetts, and the DAR Museum in Washington, D.C. Near the end of the year the virtual exhibition Mapping Colonial America was posted on the foundation's Web site. Using state-of-the-art technology, the site allows guests to zoom in on a host of highly detailed maps made between 1587 and 1782.

In the fall Colonial Williamsburg announced ambitious plans for moving and centralizing the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum to a new and more accessible site at the DeWitt Wallace Museum, creating the Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. When the transfer is complete in late 2006, the folk art objects will have greater visibility, there will be access to the Hennage Auditorium for folk-art related programming, and there will be more and better exhibition opportunities. Each of the folk art and decorative arts museums will retain its distinctive identity following centralization.

Pewter at Colonial Williamsburg book

The foundation began a partnership with Pearson Scott Foresman.

Poster about partnership with Pearson Scott Foresman

Colonial Williamsburg curator John Davis's book on pewter.

Young guests learn about being in the militia

On Market Square, Colonial Williamsburg militiamen drill a squad of very young guests on the finer points of military bearing.

Educational Outreach

The Productions, Publications, and Learning Ventures group extends the institution's educational reach to audiences across the United States. In 2003, the publications program released John Davis's Pewter at Colonial Williamsburg. It also issued Physick: The Professional Practice of Medicine in Williamsburg, Virginia, 1740-1775 by Sharon Cotner, Kris Dippre, Robin Kipps, and Susan Pryor, and Sue Rountree's From a Colonial Garden. The productions unit released two audio recordings—The World Turned Upside Down and The Grand Entertainment.

The division's K-12 education outreach initiative expanded. Five hundred eighty-three teachers attended the teacher institute and other on-site teacher development programs. Participants immersed themselves in primary sources, living history teaching techniques, and technology resources that invigorate the classroom and inspire children. With support from the Procter & Gamble Company, and in cooperation with the Cincinnati Public School District, the education outreach team piloted a teacher development format that has the potential to carry Colonial Williamsburg history teaching resources to school districts across the nation.

Partnerships lengthened the reach of the education mission. PSCU Financial Services, the leading provider of traditional and online financial services to credit unions, partnered with Colonial Williamsburg to sponsor a history education initiative. During the next five years, PSCU Financial Services' 500 member credit unions will support schools across the country by providing registrations for the foundation's award-winning electronic field trip program and sponsorship for teachers attending its training programs.

Colonial Williamsburg's educators and teacher advisors collaborated with Texas Instruments to create history lessons that use Texas Instruments' handheld TI-83 Plus, a small calculating, computing, and storage device. High school and middle school classrooms will use these lessons and this technology to engage students in the demographic analysis of early America.

In November 2003 a partnership was announced between Colonial Williamsburg and Pearson Scott Foresman, the nation's leading elementary social studies textbook publisher, for creation of American history materials for the elementary social studies textbook series.

The partnership will carry Colonial Williamsburg history education materials to millions of students during a period of debate about the teaching of history and the best way to accomplish it. In a nation that is the product of a long and spirited conversation about values and actions, the Pearson Scott Foresman partnership is a natural progression in ensuring that the lesson plan of American history is not reduced or diminished in importance.

Website Portal page
Interactive Tour the Town

The Web site offers interactive tours of the town as well as information about everything from exhibits to lodging.

Web Site

"A civilization torn between loyalty and liberty ...faces a decision that will change the world. Welcome to the Revolution. America. Chapter I." With these words, the Colonial Williamsburg Web site unveiled a new web design. The message is accented in the site's pages that follow with images and words that tell the story of America on the eve of the Revolution. The URLs,, and lead Web users to the same place—a site that excites and educates audiences.

Among the other initiatives of 2003 was a redesigned Visit section that features "Tour the Town," an animated, interactive map that brings the Historic Area to life online with sights and sounds, and helps individuals to plan vacations or teachers to bring interactive resources into the classroom. Virtual tours of the Capitol, the Courthouse, the Raleigh Tavern, and other signature buildings are available. A Historic Trades' show presents the tools of the crafts, and Web technology lets users listen to Patrick Henry protest against the Stamp Act at Virginia's reconstructed 1700s Capitol. A calendar of events and an itinerary planner were introduced so that Web users can check programming and performances, special events, and Kimball Theatre films, saving the information online. Streaming video of electronic field trips, enhanced versions of the journal Colonial Williamsburg, and tours of Colonial Houses properties are also on the Web site.

Architect's drawing of the Lodge renovations

Lodge-East Guest Houses. Architect's drawing shows the guest houses that will be part of the Williamsburg Lodge renovation.

The Williamsburg Inn

Condé Nast Traveler put the Williamsburg Inn on its "Gold List," and Travel & Leisure included it in its "500 Greatest Hotels in the World."


Design work began in 2003 on the renovation and restoration of the Williamsburg Lodge and Conference Center, the economic engine for Colonial Williamsburg's hospitality business. Our plans reflect its strategic importance. The goal is to create a facility suited to the contemporary business traveler and resort guest while restoring the look, feel, and charm of the original Lodge.

The work is to proceed in stages, beginning in 2004, when the East Guest Houses, containing sixty rooms, will be erected on South England Street. A phased approach will enable the Lodge to welcome guests throughout the renovation.

The Lodge opened in 1939. Its main building is to remain the cornerstone of the architectural plan, but the main façade is to be restored to its original concept. The renovated Lodge is to feature a conference center of approximately 45,000 square feet in the heart of the hotel, and is to have 323 guest rooms. The South and Tazewell wings are also to be preserved.

Plans were also announced in 2003 for a comprehensive spa and fitness center serving the Lodge and the nearby Williamsburg Inn, and a health evaluation center offering diagnostic services and lifestyle counseling. The spa would occupy the building currently housing the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, which is relocating to the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum site, and the health evaluation center is to be at the site of the Craft House at the Williamsburg Inn.

The Lodge renovation project, the spa, and the health evaluation center will place Colonial Williamsburg's facilities at the forefront of the hospitality industry and maintain the foundation's position among the leading resorts in the country. Serving Colonial Williamsburg guests and the community, these facilities will yield a significant revenue stream in support of educational programs.

The Williamsburg Inn returned to the Condé Nast Traveler magazine's "Gold List," and was recognized in Travel & Leisure magazine's "The 500 Greatest Hotels in the World" list. The Inn's Regency Room received the American Automobile Association's "Four Diamond Rating," and the "Distinguished Restaurants of North America Award." Hotel properties also earned Successful Meetings magazine's "Pinnacle Award," Meetings South's "Stars of the South Award," Corporate Meetings and Incentive's "President's Award," Meetings & Conventions magazine's "Gold Key Award," and the "Planner's Choice Award" from Meetings News.

Golf magazine recognized the Inn and Golden Horseshoe with its "Gold Medalist Award for 2003," one of twenty-two presented in the nation. Golfweek listed the Golden Horseshoe as one of the best golf courses. Travel & Leisure Golf reader's survey also accorded the Inn prominent recognition.

In the Historic Area, Chowning's Tavern revised its lunch menu to offer indoor and outdoor Colonial Quick Fare, an attractive alternative for guests, especially families with children.

It also introduced early Gambols, starting at 5:00 p.m., to appeal to a family audience. This presentation of colonial games and entertainment features light fare and beverages.

Ad for Shoemaker

The Prentis Store now carries goods made by Historic Area crafts- and tradespeople.


The year 2003 meant growth, refinement, and focus for Colonial Williamsburg's products division. Strong financial results were realized across retail, direct marketing, and licensing operations.

In a collaboration with the education division, the Prentis Store became the venue for the sale of historic products produced by the artisans of the Historic Trades program. A collection of marketing materials was developed that included portraits and biographies of craftspeople at each of the trades exhibition sites.

Retail store marketing strategies were targeted to the individual needs of each location. More in-store events and regional advertising enhanced store revenue. The Craft House at Merchants Square, a home furnishings business, and Green-how Store, a Historic Area shop, celebrated twentieth anniversaries, and the Golden Horseshoe, one of our two championship golf courses, celebrated its fortieth anniversary. The complex planning phase of remerchandising of the Colonial Williamsburg Shops at Merchants Square was completed, and preparation began for the summer 2004 opening of Williamsburg at Home in the new College Corner Building. The store will offer top-of-the-line reproduction furniture and other quality goods.

E-commerce almost doubled. Growth was fueled by an expanded product assortment available at www. The catalog merchandise assortment was also refined to more clearly articulate Colonial Williamsburg's mission.

In spring of 2003, licensee Waverly launched the Images of Nature collection in the WILLIAMSBURG brand casual life-style line. It features fabrics and bedding and is supported by licensed bath and decorative accessories products. A partnership with the country's oldest continuously operated furniture manufacturer, Nichols & Stone, was announced in the autumn. The line is featured in more than 130 furniture stores across the nation.

Palace Green cleanup

Palace Green cleanup

Hurricane Isabel

Advance preparations by Colonial Williamsburg employees and an unwavering commitment to the guest experience played critical roles in minimizing the potentially catastrophic consequences of Hurricane Isabel and ensuring the comfort and safety of guests during and after the storm.

Well before Isabel slammed into Williamsburg on Thursday, September 18, Colonial Williamsburg's landscape, facilities, and maintenance crews had developed and implemented a complete action plan. During the two days before the storm, in conjunction with hospitality, products, collections, and Historic Area staff, they secured the foundation against the hurricane's fury, sealing buildings against rain and floodwater, closing shutters and interiors, and tying down signs and benches.

The day of and after the hurricane, hundreds of employees from every area of the foundation braved the elements and reported for duty. In many cases, the homes of those employees had been damaged, and some destroyed. Their attention to Colonial Williamsburg's need and Colonial Williamsburg's guests was selfless. Within hours, downed trees were moved, buildings were opened, and roads were cleared.

Hundreds of Historic Area trees were toppled. Colonial Williamsburg's Green Course Clubhouse was seriously damaged. There was lesser harm to the teahouse at Bassett Hall, a Wetherburn's Tavern outbuilding, and a perimeter wall at the Governor's Palace, and almost everyone in the region was without electricity.

Historic Area staff provided programs for guests in hotel venues during the two-day closure of the Historic Area. Dozens of hospitality staff worked around the clock for more than four days to provide comfortable rooms and hot meals to guests. Employees across the foundation pulled together to provide the best possible experiences for guests, and afterward efficiently worked to erase the evidence of the hurricane's visit.