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February 27, 2008

CW's Bassett Hall offers tours about how the Rockefellers' gardens grew

Enjoy the beauty and splendor of the 1940’s gardens at Bassett Hall, the Williamsburg home of Colonial Williamsburg benefactors John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his wife Abby Aldrich Rockefeller.

During a Bassett Hall Garden Tour, guests can enjoy a walk in the Rockefellers’ garden with an interpreter at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from March 25-April 29. The tour presents a history of the garden, the Rockefellers’ involvement in developing the garden and the garden’s restoration.

The house underwent a two-year renovation completed in 2003 that included the re-creation of the gardens 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.

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 11 a.m. on Mondays beginning April 7 and going through June 9. The tour 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 and later 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.

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. 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. “Revolutionary City®” – a dramatic live street theater presentation – is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121