Group honoring Virginia’s founding father to hold inaugural meeting

When Chip Zimmer moved to town, he was excited to delve into George Washington’s colonial past. But when the recent retiree and Williamsburg transplant discovered that the nearest historical society dedicated to the nation’s first president was nearly 300 miles away in Delaware, he took matters into his own hands.

“We decided to form the group with the idea to study and discuss Washington,” he said. “Whether it’s his leadership, legacy, faith or generalship.”

The George Washington Society of Virginia will hold its inaugural meeting this month in Chowning’s Tavern, the reconstructed 1766 pub and Duke of Gloucester Street institution. It’s no coincidence that the meeting will take place on the same street that Washington walked on as a 27-year-old budding politician, sitting in the House of Burgesses, attending Mass at Bruton Parish Church and working to shape the future of the colonies. According to the group’s mission statement, they aim to preserve and promote the founding father’s memory by offering a variety of educational events and discussions.

Doug Bradburn, president of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, says that it’s critical for groups like the Society to pass along Washington’s legacy to new generations.

“We need to really understand that our experiment in democracy in this country, it’s not inevitable that it will succeed,” said Bradburn. “I very much believe that without George Washington, that great experiment would not have succeeded.”

Zimmer says that the Society will be only the third in the country dedicated to covering Washington’s life. This need, coupled with his own personal interest in the larger-than-life general and political figure, led Zimmer to form the organization. He says that the meeting, which will be on the former president’s 286th birthday, has already attracted interest from local history buffs.

“The response has been terrific,” said Zimmer. “I’m finding that a lot of retirees are interested in learning more about the man.”

The meeting also will feature a presentation from Tony Williams, a local author and historian who has written six books on colonial history and the impact that the former Revolutionary War general had on the area.

Following this month’s meeting, the group plans to get together on the third Tuesday of every month at the 8 Shires Coloniale Distillery on Merrimac Trail. Society members will be asked to pay $25 a year in dues.

“We invite anyone who wants to get a better sense of the colonial times that embodied the tidewater region,” said Zimmer.

Want to go?

When: 6 p.m. Feb. 22

Where: Chowning’s Tavern, Duke of Gloucester Street

The event is limited to 32 attendees due to venue size, but those interested in reserving a seat can contact Karen McPherson at For more information about membership, contact Zimmer at


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