Architectural Photo Albums Collection

Dublin Core


Architectural Photo Albums Collection


Williamsburg (Va.) - Photographs
Williamsburg (Va.) - Buildings, structures, etc.
Photograph albums
Architecture, Colonial - Virginia - Williamsburg
Historic buildings - Virginia - Williamsburg
Public buildings - Virginia - Williamsburg
Architecture, Domestic - Virginia - Williamsburg


The Williamsburg office of architects Perry, Shaw and Hepburn began compiling this extensive collection of 367 boxes of black and white photographs in a series of photo albums in the late 1920s and early 1930s. After the establishment of a Department of Architecture in 1934, the architectural team continued to add photographs to the albums until the 1980s. Together, they comprise a detailed chronological record of the changes that have occurred over time at each site in the Historic Area, ranging from pre-restoration views and archaeological excavations to restoration or reconstruction progress, landscaping installation, completion, and renovation photographs.

Contract photographers Thomas Layton and Frank Nivison took many of the earliest images of the restoration work. Layton, a photographer who operated a studio at 507 E. Broad Street in Richmond, Virginia, worked for the restoration between 1928 and 1930 creating periodic photo documentation of work at the Wren Building, Capitol, Raleigh Tavern, and Ludwell-Paradise House, as well as many pre-restoration views of sites throughout the Historic Area. Frank Nivison, a photographer from the University Film Foundation at Harvard University, took over in late 1930 and spent the next five years meticulously photographing each successive stage of work at sites under reconstruction or restoration. Photos by Layton and Nivison are supplemented by images of pre-restoration Williamsburg that the architects collected from town residents and had copied for research use in the photo albums. They include images taken by Clyde Holmes, D.N. Davidson, and Edward Beckwith. In addition, the albums encompass some photographs taken by members of the architectural team, including Landscape Architect Arthur Shurcliff and Interior Designer Susan Higginson Nash. Post-1930s photos within the albums encompass those taken by official Colonial Williamsburg photographers such as Thomas Williams, Loring J. Turner, Dan Spangler, Chuck Kagey, and Steve Toth to document the continuing evolution of architectural and archaeological investigations and restoration work at each site.

The collection is organized according to the Foundation’s in-house Block and Building System. Initial folders on properties identify the various names associated with buildings through time. Some houses have been known by a succession of names and, in most instances, are now called by the builder’s name or that of the most famous occupant.

In some instances, the images are the first generation master prints, and notes on backs of photographs sometimes identify the people shown and describe what is shown—especially in those documenting archaeological excavations. Usually, the Foundation’s archaeological drawings (also in the Library’s Special Collections Section) show the exact positions and directions from which certain shots were made. Evolution of the work of restoration and reconstruction can be followed chronologically in most instances, although the collection has not been expanded since its transfer from the Architectural Research Department in the 1980s.

Images of Carter’s Grove Plantation are included due to its ownership by the Foundation until sale in the early twenty-first century. Van Cortlandt Manor, in Westchester Co., New York is also documented due to its acquisition by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in 1953. The restoration there was carried out by architects from Colonial Williamsburg and the Foundation’s drawing files contain the plans for this work. The house today is a National Historic Landmark belonging to Historic Hudson Valley.

Following the portion concerning Williamsburg’s Historic Area buildings are a series of notebooks identified by subject. Topics included are: aerial views of the Historic Area from 1925 - 1956, Williamsburg street views, architectural details, Williamsburg Shopping Center, mantels (salvaged models bought in early restoration), 18th-c. theaters, Kingsmill, H. Avery Tipping’s English Houses, and Johannes Kip engravings (bird’s-eye views of English country houses).

Is Part Of

Architectural Photo Albums Collection, AV2013.2


367 boxes

Rights Holder

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

Collection Items

N6845R w.jpg

Nivison, Frank 1942-03-17
N6829R w.jpg

Nivison, Frank 1937
N5697 w.jpg

Nivison, Frank 1938
N5696 w.jpg

Nivison, Frank 1938
N5570R w.jpg

Nivison, Frank 1937-07-26
N5569R w.jpg

Nivison, Frank 1937-07-26
N5568R w.jpg

Nivison, Frank 1937-07-26
N5564R w.jpg

Nivison, Frank 1937-06-14
N5563R w.jpg

Nivison, Frank 1937-06-14
N5562R w.jpg

Nivison, Frank 1937-06-14
N5556R w.jpg

Nivison, Frank 1937-05-01
N5555R w.jpg

Nivison, Frank 1937-05-01
AV-2013-02-B32-F2-001 w.jpg

Nivison, Frank
62-JC-1756-4 w.jpg

Crane, John 1962-08-14
62-GR-21 w.jpg

Rossner, Gerry 1961-10-09
62-GR-20 w.jpg

Rossner, Gerry
61-GR-607 w.jpg

Rossner, Gerry 1961-09-19
56-RV-1741 w.jpg

Veal, Ralph 1956-11-19
56-RV-1740 w.jpg

Veal, Ralph 1956-11-19
56-RV-1739 w.jpg

Veal, Ralph 1956-11-13
View all 1038 items