Donald MacDonald Millar Sketchbook

Dublin Core


Donald MacDonald Millar Sketchbook


Millar, Donald MacDonald, 1884-1973
Architecture, Domestic - Virginia - Williamsburg
Public buildings - Virginia - Williamsburg
Williamsburg (Va.) - Buildings, structures, etc.


A pioneer in the fledgling field of architectural history in America, Donald MacDonald Millar contributed his expertise to some of the earliest research and planning for Williamsburg’s restoration in the late 1920s. He received his training in his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, where he worked for a firm of architects. As one of the founding members of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, he became interested in recording the measurements and architectural details of colonial structures and published two books, Measured Drawings of Some Colonial and Georgian Homes (1916) and Measured Drawings of Some Colonial Furniture (1925), as well as articles in the Architectural Record and the Pennsylvania Museum Bulletin.

A call to the ministry led Millar to the Theological Seminary in New York City and he became an Episcopal clergyman. His acquaintance with Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin, another Episcopal minister with a keen interest in historic architecture, and William Graves Perry, a partner in the firm Perry, Shaw and Hepburn, brought him to the attention of Colonel Arthur Woods, who sent him an invitation on May 28, 1928 to “…do research work in England and France for the Williamsburg project.” Millar received a six month leave of absence from his position as assistant to Rev. Frederick Burgess of St. Matthew’s and St. Timothy’s churches in New York City to undertake the assignment. With the help of several assistants, he traveled through the two countries to gather information about the types of building materials that would have been available to colonial Virginians and to record architectural precedents to assist in the reconstruction of Williamsburg buildings. His investigations contributed to the discovery of the Bodleian copperplate whose engraved illustrations of the Governor’s Palace, Capitol, Wren Building, President’s House, and Brafferton Building provided critical visual evidence for their accurate restoration.

This sketchbook contains field drawings and notations about several historic buildings in Williamsburg that Millar examined during a visit to the town in 1919. Sketches include architectural details of the Mary Cary House, Ludwell-Paradise House, Powell-Hallam House, Dudley Digges House (today identified as the Bray School) and the Robert Carter House. The sketchbook is significant as a record of the condition of these buildings in the second decade of the twentieth century, nine years before John D. Rockefeller Jr. agreed to fund the commencement of in-depth restoration work on some of Williamsburg's colonial structures. It also illustrates the growing interest in Williamsburg's architectural history among early pioneers in the field of historic preservation.


Millar, Donald MacDonald



Is Part Of




20 pages





Rights Holder

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

Collection Items


Millar, Donald MacDonald 1919
View item