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September 11, 2007

Two new tours offered at CW's Bassett Hall this fall

Bassett Hall, the Williamsburg home of Colonial Williamsburg benefactors John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his wife Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, is the site of two new programs this fall.

“Nature, Art and Science” explores the natural world with Mark Catesby, America’s first environmentalist, portrayed by Colonial Williamsburg interpreter Robb Warren. The tour takes place at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 25, Oct. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, Nov. 6, 13, 20 and 27, and meets at the Bassett Hall reception center.

Mark Catesby, whose father had scholarly and scientific connections, studied natural history in London and then traveled to the New World. In 1712 he visited Virginia, the Carolinas and the Bahamas, where he observed, documented and collected plant and animal specimens. He published his findings in “Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands” between 1731 and 1734. It was the first published, fully illustrated book on the flora and fauna of North America.

Guests also can enjoy a walk in the Rockefeller’s garden with a Bassett Hall interpreter at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays beginning Oct. 1. The tour presents a history of the garden, the Rockefeller’s involvement in developing the garden and the garden’s restoration.

A two-story 18th-century frame house near Colonial Williamsburg's Capitol, Bassett Hall is set on a 585-acre tract of woodlands. In addition to the home, the property includes a teahouse and three original outbuildings: a smokehouse, kitchen and dairy. The house underwent an extension renovation that included the re-creation of the gardens to their 1940s appearance with the addition of more than 5,000 new trees, shrubs and ground cover. The Rockefellers spent a few weeks in the spring and another few weeks in the fall each year at Bassett Hall. They therefore designed their garden to be in bloom when they visited.

Bassett Hall is located at 522 E. Francis St. and is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except on Wednesdays. Admission is included in any Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket. Both programs will be held weather permitting.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture — stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic tradespeople research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. Williamsburg is located 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information or reservations, call toll-free 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg on the Internet at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121