Friday, June 12 marks David Rockefeller’s 100th birthday. We here at The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation would like to wish him the happiest of days!
On March 29, 1926, David and his father, John D. Rockefeller Jr., visited Virginia. Rev. Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin would show the Rockefeller family around Williamsburg. In his 2002 book, “Memoirs,” David wrote about the trip:
“Dr. Goodwin met us on the road into town early in the morning of a glorious spring day, with the dogwood and azalea in full bloom. He showed us the memorial hall and then led us around the sleepy village that had been the capital of Virginia before the American Revolution. But after the Revolution, when the capital moved to Richmond, the town entered a long period of slow decline. Many of its splendid public buildings, including the Governor’s Palace and the House of Burgesses, had literally fallen into ruins. Dr. Goodwin was an eloquent tour director and a very good salesman. When we visited a handsome but dilapidated brick building known as the George Wythe House, he extolled its fine architecture but pointed out with sadness its state of disrepair. Father picked up on the observation and later agreed to provide the funds needed to restore the house.”
About nine months later, Dr. Goodwin received a telegram from Mr. Rockefeller authorizing the purchase of the Ludwell-Paradise House that had just come on the market. The telegram was signed “David’s Father” in an effort to keep the transaction a secret and prevent real estate prices from going up in the historic district.
Dr. Goodwin and young David, who was 10 at the time, had created a special bond that would last many years. That same year, Dr. Goodwin sent the Rockefellers a box for Christmas, including nuts for David. David wrote to Dr. Goodwin thanking him for the gift.
The letter reads:
“Dear Dr. Goodwin: Thank you very much for the lovely nuts you sent me it certainly was nice of you to think of me. I shall never forget the lovely trip we had in Virginia with you. Your Friend, David Rockefeller”
Over the years, David Rockefeller has contributed to Colonial Williamsburg in so many ways and for that we all are extremely grateful.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Rockefeller!