W. A. R. Goodwin
The Reverend Dr. William Archer Rutherfoord Goodwin (June 18, 1869 – September 7, 1939) (or W.A.R. Goodwin as he preferred) was the rector of Bruton Parish Church who began the 20th century effort which resulted in the preservation and restoration of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. He is known as "the Father of Colonial Williamsburg."
William Archer Rutherfoord Goodwin was born in Richmond, Virginia only four years after the end of the American Civil War. He was the son of a wounded Confederate captain who returned from the war to find destitution on a hilly farm near the town of Norwood in Nelson County, Virginia, along the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. After attending a private school at a local plantation and then the area's first public school, he graduated from Roanoke College in 1889 with a bachelor's of arts degree and from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1893 with a divinity degree.
After serving for a number of years in Petersburg, Dr. Goodwin became pastor of historic Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg in 1903. The small city had been the capital of Virginia from 1699 until 1780. Aside from the College of William and Mary, founded in the 17th century, time had largely left the town of Williamsburg behind after the Capital was moved to Richmond late in the 18th century.
Dr. Goodwin was inspired by his historic parish with its many still-standing 18th-century buildings. He assumed fund-raising, preservation and restoration of the aged and historic church building begun by his predecessor, using information gathered from town and church records. He successfully led completion of the church's restoration in 1907, the 300th anniversary of the establishment of the Episcopal Church in America at Jamestown.
He left to serve another church in Rochester, New York, and did not return until 1923, when he was recruited as a department head at the College of William & Mary by its President, Dr. J.A.C. Chandler. Dr. Goodwin also resumed serving as rector of Bruton Parish Church.
Upon returning to the old colonial capital, he was shocked at the changes and additional deterioration and loss of 17th century structures during the years he had been away. In 1924, fearing that the other many historic buildings in the area would be destroyed as time went on, he started a movement to preserve the buildings in the district.
As his primary source of funding, Dr. Goodwin was fortunate in this effort to sign on John D. Rockefeller Jr., the wealthy son of the founder of Standard Oil, and his wife, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. He stimulated their interest in the old city, and their generosity financed the restoration. Working with a small group of confidants, Dr. Goodwin acted as Rockefeller's silent partner and acquired dozens of properties located in and near in what would become the restored area. Williamsburg attorney Vernon M. Geddy, Sr., did much of the title research and legal work and later drafted the Virginia corporate papers for the project and filed them with the Virginia State Corporation Commission. Mr. Geddy served briefly as the first President of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
Together, the local team and the New York-based Rocekefellers made Dr. Goodwin's dream of restoring the old colonial capital come true, creating what grew to become Colonial Williamsburg, with a public announcement finally revealing the Rockefellers' role at two town meetings in the historic city held in June 1928.
He died in 1939.
Today Colonial Williamsburg's Historic Area occupies 173 acres (700,000 m²) and includes 88 original buildings and more than 50 major reconstructions. It is joined by the Colonial Parkway to the two other sides of the Historic Triangle. At Jamestown, in 1607, England established its first permanent colony in the Americas. At Yorktown in 1781, the Continental Army under George Washington won a decisive victory during the American Revolutionary War to end British rule.
Virginia's Historic Triangle area is a major tourist attractions, with Dr. Goodwin's Bruton Parish Church and Colonial Williamsburg as the centerpiece.
- History of the Restoration : The Colonial Williamsburg Official History Site
- http://www.gfhlawoffice.com/Firm%20Info/Firm%20Profile.aspx[dead link]
- "Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin, Virginia Rector,70; "Father of the Williamsburg Restoration" Dies. Gained Rockefeller's Support. Widely Praised for Work. Head of Religious Education Department at William and Mary Since 1923". New York Times. "Williamsburg, Virginia, September 7, 1939 (Associated Press) The Rev. Dr. William Archer Rutherfoord Goodwin, former rector of Bruton Parish Church and the "father of the Williamsburg restoration," died at his home here tonight. He was 70 years old."
Dennis Montgomery (1998-09-22). A Link Among the Days; the Life and Times of the Rev. Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin, the Father of Colonial Williamsburg. Dietz Pr. ISBN 978-0-87517-100-5.