the research microsite

CW Journal : Autumn 2005 : The President's Message

The President's Message

Investments in the Future

The President

Colin G. Campbell

It was, as I write, five years ago today—my first day on-site as Colonial Williamsburg's president—that I accepted a journal request for a late-afternoon interview. The first question was, "How do you like the job so far?" I laughed, and, the ice broken, the conversation turned to the future.

It was not as clear then as now that Colonial Williamsburg was entering a time of transition, a passage from what has been to what can be. On reflection, I realize that the journey began before my move to Williamsburg, in 1998 when the board of trustees adopted a plan for major facilities improvements: building the family-friendly Woodlands Hotel; renovating the venerable Williamsburg Inn; doubling the Visitor Center's size and modernizing its technology; completing the bridge to the Historic Area; and constructing the College Corner Building in Merchants Square. All that accomplished since 2000, and more to come.

In autumn 2006, we'll finish restoration and renovation of the Williamsburg Lodge, with its new 45,000 square-foot conference center. A 20,000 square-foot fitness center and spa will be located in the space once occupied by the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, and a new folk art museum will debut at the site of the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum—renamed the Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. In the Historic Area, we are completing the twenty-year restoration of the Peyton Randolph property with a kitchen, slave quarter, dairy, smokehouse, storehouse, lumber house, and granary.

Collectively, this more than $200 million undertaking is essential to our programming and supporting business aspirations.

As significant are the enhancements of the learning experience now under way on- site and off. Under the banner of "education for citizenship" the story we tell will no longer end on the eve of independence. Beginning next spring in the Historic Area, we'll present the history of the Revolution, too. In March, we'll introduce a dynamic Revolutionary City. We'll portray the events of the years in which the continent's first self-governing society emerged and Williamsburg stood center stage in the struggle for freedom. We'll emphasize the role its people played in creating our republic as the royal government collapsed and they began the long march to liberty at Yorktown. We think it will be fascinating, engaging, and enjoyable for all ages.

Our mission is education. Our accommodations and amenities support that mission through enhancement of the guest experience, directly and financially. That complete experience should be a magnet, making Williamsburg even more of an attraction and destination in the future.

Changing times and tastes require that we constantly reexamine our operations, our assumptions, and our methods. It is critical not only that guests look forward to a visit here for rest and relaxation, for fine food and great golf, but that what they learn and experience is relevant to their lives, hopes, and aspirations. Our programming must help them link today's challenges to those faced by the eighteenth-century people of this community. In the Historic Area, and in outreach initiatives, we must contribute more directly to the understanding of the idea of America in terms meaningful, memorable, and useful.

Williamsburg, almost eighty years ago, guided by the vision and support of Dr. W. A. R. Goodwin and John D. Rockefeller Jr., transitioned from what had been to what could be. So must we. Our future lies in remaining true not only to our origins but to the spirit that animated the eighteenth-century city. We will not compromise on integrity. Nevertheless, we intend to be relevant and immediate to the world around us, to be a destination where the future may learn from the past.

Colin G. Campbell
Chairman and President