Richard Garrison Photography Collection


Richard Garrison Photography Collection


Garrison, Richard
Historic buildings - Virginia - Williamsburg
Architectural photographs - 1930-1940
Williamsburg (Va.)--History



Richard Garrison was a New York photographer with a studio at 52 Vanderbilt Avenue in New York City. His architectural photographs appeared regularly in such magazines as "House Beautiful," "American Art and Architecture," "Architectural Record," and "House & Garden." According to a recommendation written by Mr. Frederic C. Hirons, Garrison “…was trained as an architect and …knows the vital points in taking architectural photographs…”

After F.S. Lincoln’s photography contract expired in 1937, Colonial Williamsburg hired Richard Garrison in his place. A contract signed by Garrison in June 1937 indicates that Garrison was contracted to be available when requested to photograph exterior and interior views of buildings between June 15, 1937 and June 14, 1938. Colonial Williamsburg renewed this agreement with Garrison in 1938 and 1939.

Colonial Williamsburg staff members asked Garrison to create a master collection of official photos of Colonial Williamsburg buildings and gardens. He was given several lists of suggested views to take of the exterior and interior of the Governor’s Palace, the Capitol, the Raleigh Tavern, the Public Gaol, the Wren Building, Market Square Tavern, and the Travis House. The lists also instructed him to photograph various gardens and street scenes in the historic area, as well as shops in the business block and exterior views of the Williamsburg Inn. Some of Garrison’s photos formed part of the Virginia exhibit at the New York World’s Fair in 1939.

Richard Garrison joined the Navy in 1942 and closed his office for the duration of World War II. During this period, his negative files were made available to Colonial Williamsburg at the offices of Underwood & Underwood in New York City. Garrison received his discharge from the Navy in 1946 and contacted Colonial Williamsburg about the possibility of additional contract work. The photographer presented Kenneth Chorley, President of Colonial Williamsburg, with a proposal to photograph the interiors of private homes within the historic area. Mr. Chorley vetoed the proposal because he felt the private interiors were not accurately restored and would confuse the public as to the objectives of the restoration work. Other Colonial Williamsburg staff members were more enthusiastic about the proposal, but it was never approved. Therefore, Garrison did not perform any more contract photography for Colonial Williamsburg after World War II.

Scope and Contents

The Richard Garrison Photo Collection consists of one portfolio of black and white and hand-colored photos ranging in size from 8x10 to 11x14. These are the only known Garrison photos in the Foundation’s photo archives. The whereabouts of the other negatives and prints created by Garrison while under contract to Colonial Williamsburg are unknown.

Although it is unfortunate that only a small portion of Garrison’s photographic work for Colonial Williamsburg has been preserved, this small portfolio provides a sample of the types of photographs he created. The subject matter includes interior views of the Governor’s Palace, George Wythe House, Market Square Tavern, and the Raleigh Tavern; exterior views of the Capitol, Raleigh Tavern, Public Gaol, Courthouse, Ludwell-Paradise House, Ayscough Shop, Palmer House, Travis House, Pitt Dixon House, Coke-Garrett House, and the Williamsburg Inn; and various unidentified garden scenes. Some of the photos are mounted on board and signed by the photographer. They date from the period of 1937-1939, when Garrison worked on a contract basis for Colonial Williamsburg.

Garrison's photographs of Colonial Williamsburg appeared in an exhibit at the Pedac Galleries at Rockefeller Center and also in the publication "Williamsburg, Virginia: A Brief Study in Photographs" published in 1939 by Colonial Williamsburg, Inc.


Garrison, Richard

Rights Holder

Special Collections, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Collection Items

Semple House Kitchen
Semple House (now William Finnie House) Kitchen, Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1930's

Travis House Dining Room
Costumed employees pose in the Travis House dining room, Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1930's

Raleigh Tavern
A horse-drawn carriage in front of the Raleigh Tavern on Duke of Gloucester Street, Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1930's

Apollo Room, Raleigh Tavern
Apollo Room, Raleigh Tavern, Williamsburg, Virginia, ca. 1937

Little Dining Room, Governor's Palace, Williamsburg, Virginia
Little Dining Room, Governor's Palace, Williamsburg, Virginia, ca. 1937

Pitt Dixon House
Pitt Dixon House (now known as the George Pitt House), Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1930's

George Wythe House First Floor Passage
First floor interior passageway at George Wythe House, Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1930's. On verso of photo is a note written by the photographer.

Williamsburg Inn Rear Terrace
Williamsburg Inn Rear Terrace, Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1930's

St. George Tucker House
Hand-colored photograph of St. George Tucker House, Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1930's

Governor's Palace Kitchen
Interior of Governor's Palace Kitchen with costumed interpreter, Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1930's

Courthouse of 1770
Hand-colored photograph of Courthouse of 1770, Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1930's

Williamsburg Inn
Main entrance to Williamsburg Inn, Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1930's

Public Gaol, Williamsburg, Virginia
Costumed nterpreters stand next to the pillory outside the Public Gaol, Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1930's

Ludwell-Paradise House
Costumed interpreters on the front steps of the Ludwell-Paradise House, Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1930's

Ayscough Shop
A cabinetmaker at work inside the Ayscough Shop, Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1930's

Rear View of Governor's Palace
Hand-colored photograph of rear view of the Ballroom Wing of the Governor's Palace, Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1930's

Governor's Palace
Hand-colored photograph of the Governor's Palace viewed from Palace Street, Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1930's

Hand-colored photograph of the reconstructed colonial Capitol, Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1930's

Carriage at Raleigh Tavern
Hand-colored photograph of horse-drawn carriage stopped in front of Raleigh Tavern on Duke of Gloucester Street in Williamsburg, Virginia, circa 1930's.

Northwest elevation of the reconstructed Capitol, 1932.
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