June 14, 2002
CW's first new horse carriage in four decades made possible by the generosity of donors
Colonial Williamsburg’s first carriage since the 1960s was officially dedicated Wednesday, June 5 by Colonial Williamsburg President and Chairman Colin G. Campbell and his wife, Nancy. The dedication at the foundation’s stables also honored James and Maureen Gorman of Cumberland Foreside, Maine, whose generosity made the carriage a reality.
The Gormans are long-standing friends and supporters of Colonial Williamsburg. Their generous gifts to the foundation have supported the annual fund, the acquisition of furnishings for the St. George Tucker House, Colonial Williamsburg’s new stables and the restoration of the Timson House. James Gorman is a part owner of L.L. Bean and the grandson of Leon Leonwood Bean, who founded the L.L. Bean mail order retail clothing and outdoor equipment business in 1912. Maureen Gorman is a director and part owner of Reel Star Productions, Inc., a film casting business for commercial television and corporate video.
“The Gormans’ great spirit and enormous generosity have added substantially to the enjoyment and educational value of Colonial Williamsburg,” said Colin G. Campbell, president and chairman of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “Their most recent gift of the new carriage is a wonderful addition to the sights and sounds of the 18th-century Historic Area.”
“Jim and I are most interested in preservation and archaeology, so seeing the wonderful examples of early American architecture at Colonial Williamsburg is always exciting,” said Mrs. Gorman. “We come back as often as we can and we make our visits real family events.”
The well-appointed carriage is an accurate reproduction of an 18th-century traveling coach patterned after one owned by Robert Carter, one of the wealthiest Virginians of the time and a resident of Williamsburg. Carter’s original coach was built by Joseph Jacobs Jr. at his shop on St. Mary’s Avenue in London. When the coach arrived in Leeds, Va., on Sept. 12, 1774, Philip Fithian, tutor to the Carter children, described the coach as “a plain coach with the upper part black and the lower part Sage or Pea Green.” Colonial Williamsburg’s newest carriage features those same colors and was crafted in Austria by carriage maker Florian Staudner.
Richard Nicoll, Colonial Williamsburg’s coach and livestock director, met Staudner while Nicoll was attending a horse show in Austria in 1999. After corresponding with many other coach makers, Nicoll invited Staudner to come to Williamsburg to look at the operation and research the vehicle. While in the United States, Staudner and Colonial Williamsburg’s Ron Vineyard, former master of the wheelwright shop, studied other 18th-century vehicles on the East Coast and later went to France to study private vehicles. “Based on those visits Staudner presented a design of the coach which was tweaked a bit and evolved into a traveling coach,” Nicoll said. “Then the contract was signed.”
In 2001 Nicoll, Colonial Williamsburg wheelwright John Boag and 18th-century vehicle body specialist Chris Wright went to Austria to examine the details of the carriage before it was painted. Nicoll went to Austria in February 2002 to test the vehicle with horses. “It was just what we wanted and excellent workmanship,” Nicoll said “A nice feature of this carriage is the lamps copied from an original carriage mounted on the front corners."
Lorraine C. Brooks