Highlights & Milestones
The thirty millionth viewer saw the longest-running film.
The conclusion of Colonial Williamsburg's seventy-fifth anniversary celebration saw completion of the footbridge and walkway from the Visitor Center to the Historic Area. Through embedded informational plaques, the "Bridge to the Past" takes guests on a reverse timeline from the present to the eighteenth century. On the return journey, guests are reminded of significant individuals and their contributions to the growth and development of American democracy and society.
A familiar Colonial Williamsburg icon achieved a significant milestone in 2002. Williamsburg—The Story of a Patriot, the thirty-five-minute film that introduces guests to the issues and conditions that faced Virginians on the eve of the American Revolution, surpassed the mark of thirty million viewers. The film, a production of Paramount Pictures, has been shown daily since its debut in April 1957.
Historic trades carpenters raised another building—a storehouse—on the urban plantation landscape at the eighteenth-century Peyton Randolph House, home to the first president of the Continental Congress. The Randolph kitchen, completed by Colonial Williamsburg's carpenters in 2001, joined the collection of interpretive sites in the Historic Area.
More than 125 acres, including the Bassett Hall property and several other smaller parcels, were added to the Historic Area by the board of trustees to bring the total acreage to 301. This step furthers Colonial Williamsburg's commitment to preserve and protect the historic town and its immediate environs.
Historic Area Programs
In the Historic Area, guests stepped back in time to 1774 to experience a colony, and a community, on the eve of the Revolution. New interactive and seasonal programs explored the social, political, and family life of the Virginia colony's eighteenth-century capital. The six main program themes addressed in the Historic Area, one per year during each of the previous six years—slavery, religious freedom, family life, commerce and trade, land acquisition, and choosing revolution—were combined in 2002. These themes were broadly incorporated into core Historic Area programs to provide guests with a more complete and integrated understanding of the "Becoming Americans" story that is central to the foundation's educational mission.
New programs included "About Town," a walking tour in which guests were escorted throughout the Historic Area by People of the Past; "Talk of the Town," in which eighteenth-century characters met guests beginning their Colonial Williamsburg visit to provide an unparalleled, first-person introduction to colonial Virginia; and "Among the Dipping Gourds," a multiday series exploring aspects of Williamsburg's eighteenth-century African American experience from the perspectives of free and enslaved blacks.
Museums and Collections
Bassett Hall, the Williamsburg home of Abby Aldrich and John D. Rockefeller Jr., reopened in December following more than a year of painstaking restoration and research, all made possible by a generous gift from Abby O'Neill, the Rockefellers' granddaughter, and her husband, George O'Neill.
Mrs. Rockefeller's interest in folk art was reflected in exhibitions opened in 2002 at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, including hand-made coverlets in the Made in America collection of Muriel and Foster McCarl and carved wooden figures by nineteenth-century Pennsylvania carvers Wilhelm Schimmel and Aaron Mountz. The Colonial Williamsburg folk art exhibition Innocent Eye opened at the Katonah Museum of Art in Katonah, New York, in September.
The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, which houses the foundation's renowned collection of English and American decorative arts dating from 1600 through 1830, premiered The Language of Clothing, an extraordinary display of Colonial Williamsburg's eighteenth- and nineteenth-century clothing collection, and fascinating exhibits of nutmeg graters and eighteenth-century jewelry. The clothing exhibit was accompanied by the book What Clothes Reveal: The Language of Clothing in Colonial and Federal America, written by exhibit curator Linda Baumgarten, Colonial Williamsburg's curator of costumes and textiles and published by the foundation in association with Yale University Press. Guests continued to enjoy other exhibits at the Dewitt Wallace Museum, including, for a portion of the year, Furniture of the American South, and a model of Thomas Jefferson's design for the Virginia Capitol, which had been restored by the foundation's conservation staff and was on loan from the Library of Virginia.
Colonial Williamsburg also shared its collections with other museums. The Degrees of Latitude exhibition of eighteenth-century maps opened at the New-York Historical Society, and Furniture of the American South was shared with audiences at the Atlanta History Center and the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina. The map exhibition was accompanied by another new Colonial Williamsburg book, Degrees of Latitude: Mapping Colonial America, written by Margaret Pritchard, Colonial Williamsburg's curator of prints, maps, and wallpaper, and Henry Taliaferro, acclaimed dealer of rare maps and prints, and published by the foundation in association with publisher Harry N. Abrams.
The foundation's Electronic Field Trip series takes advantage of satellite-delivered, interactive television and computer technology to bring the eighteenth century to life for more than one million students annually throughout the United States. Supported with lesson plans and other materials, including historical background, glossaries, timelines, and booklets, each of the seven field trips provides guidance for teachers to make the best use of the programs. In addition, each field trip features student comments and questions, teams of historians answering telephoned and emailed questions, and a dedicated Internet website at which students find additional interactive experiences and related resources. The Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute achieved two milestones in 2002. During its fourteen years, the institute has shared the principles and techniques of inspired history education with three thousand teachers from forty-three states and three foreign countries. In addition, the one-thousandth teacher from California completed the Teacher Institute curriculum by the end of 2002.
The foundation's business activities include hospitality, products, and commercial properties, principally Merchants Square. Hospitality highlights for 2002 included the March opening of HUZZAH!, a family-style restaurant adjacent to the new Woodlands Hotel & Suites. The former Cascades Restaurant and Conference Center reopened in the spring of 2002 as the Woodlands Conference Center. Gary Brown returned to Colonial Williamsburg as vice president of sales and conference operations in hospitality, and Clyde Min joined the hospitality leadership as vice president of hospitality operations, with oversight of the Williamsburg Inn and Providence Hall, the Williamsburg Lodge, the Colonial Houses, the Woodlands Hotel & Suites, and the four historic dining taverns.
Construction began in 2002 on the largest addition to the Merchants Square shopping district in decades. The College Corner Building, on Duke of Gloucester Street near the College of William and Mary, will add 35,000 square feet of retail and office space when completed in late 2003. Merchants Square's prominence as a community gathering place and thriving retail center provided the opportunity to begin a successful farmer's market. The west end of Duke of Gloucester Street bustled on Saturday mornings from late spring to early fall of 2002 as the community and Colonial Williamsburg guests acquired seafood, fresh, homegrown fruits and vegetables, and other products from the region.
Architect's rendering of the College Corner Building in Merchants Square, carefully designed to follow tradition and opening in late 2003.
Colonial Williamsburg's products and licensing programs evolved with the addition of licensees and the introduction of several products and product lines. Established in 1936, the WILLIAMSBURG Products Program supports the mission of the foundation by offering authentic reproductions of antique furnishings, historically accurate accessories, and an interpretive lifestyle collection. Revenue from the sale of WILLIAMSBURG products supports the foundation's educational programs.
Capel, one of the nation's largest rug manufacturers, joined the ranks of Colonial Williamsburg licensees, as did India Overseas Traders and Period Lighting Fixtures. Lenox introduced its Feather Edge stainless pattern and launched its very successful Boxwood and Pine dinnerware collection. Spode debuted a line of porcelain tea and coffee service and cornflower dinnerware. L. & J. G. Stickley introduced furnishings, Murray Feiss added to its line of eighteenth-century-style lamps, and India Overseas debuted household linens and other casual home textiles.