What happened at Colonial Williamsburg during Mitchell Reiss' tenure

aheymann@vagazette.com

This story has been updated.

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation President Mitchell Reiss will step down from his post in October. Here’s a roundup of major changes Colonial Williamsburg has seen during his time there.

» Oct. 2014: Reiss begins his tenure as Colonial Williamsburg Foundation president.

» May 2015: Forrest Mars Jr. donates $10 million to CW for a new archaeology and collections building in the name of Nancy and Colin Campbell.

» June 2015: A hands-on archaeology dig site geared toward children called DIG! Kids, Dirt, and Discovery opens.

» Sept. 2015: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation announced its first-ever mascot: a Briard puppy named Liberty.

» Oct. 2015: Haunting on DoG Street is launched, a two-day Halloween celebration with trick-or-treating and more.

» Nov. 2015: CW opened Liberty Ice Pavilion, an ice skating rink in Merchants Square.

» Dec. 2015: CW announced a partnership with the Historic First Baptist Church to repair the church’s Freedom Bell. CW loaned a team of its historic conservation experts for this project.

» Feb. 2016: CW runs an ad in select Northeast cities during the Super Bowl which featured film of historic events running backward.

» Feb. 2016: First Baptist Church’s Freedom Bell repaired. People could sign up to ring the bell all month as part of the “Let Freedom Ring Challenge.”story.html

» March 2016: CW adds a flint musket range.

» May 2016: Remodeling work begins on the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club’s Gold Course.

» May 2016: Lawn bowling green behind Williamsburg Inn closes to make way for Gold Course expansion.

» May 2016: CW opens Liberty Lounge, a rest spot for active duty and retired military guests and their families

» March 2017: CW resurfaces the idea of putting up a fence to keep those without tickets out of the historic area. At the time, Reiss said CW was losing money from people in the historic area without a ticket. However, Duke of Gloucester is a city-owned street.

» April 2017: Ground is broken for the expansion of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. The project will add 65,000 square feet to the building and includes a new cafe, more gallery space and a new entrance. The project is completely donor-funded, at just under $42 million. The new wing is poised to open to the public in April 2020.

» June 2017: Reiss announces a massive restructuring in an effort to course-correct, raise revenue and limit expenses after years of financial troubles. 71 CW employees are laid off, and another 262 jobs in its golf operations, product and retail management, landscaping and facilities management departments are outsourced. The Kimball Theater is closed.

» June 2017: Williamsburg Inn reopens after remodeling. Improvements included an expanded patio, upgraded golf course and spa.

» July 2017: Golden Horseshoe Golf Club’s Gold Course reopens after remodeling.

» July 2017: A new axe-throwing range opens.

» Aug. 2017: CW leases Kimball Theatre to William and Mary for three and a half years to use while Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall undergoes renovations.

» June 2018: CW moves administrative headquarters from the Goodwin Building in Merchants Square to the Bruton Heights Education Center Campus. Colonial Williamsburg had utilized the Merchants Square office as its headquarters since 1940. Since the move, the foundation has worked with a redeveloper to convert the 42,412-square-foot building into an apartment building with retail on its first floor.

» June 2018: CW moves its long-running Summer Breeze Concert Series from Duke of Gloucester Street to the lawn of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg.

» July 2018: Binns of Williamsburg moves out of Merchants Square. The clothing store had called Duke of Gloucester Street its home for over 55 years; it reopens in a new storefront at WindsorMeade Marketplace in James City County later that year.

» Sept. 2018: Colonial Williamsburg announced the retirement of its two Briard dog mascots, Liberty and Justice.

» Oct. 2018: Mellow Mushroom opens in the Henry Street Shops as part of a growing effort to diversify dining options downtown.

» Oct. to Dec. 2018, and ongoing: CW’s proposal for Goodwin Square first appears before city boards, but was withdrawn before its final hearing at City Council. The original plan called for an outdoor plaza taking the place of CW’s P3 parking lot, and would have included a splash pad for kids, outdoor seating and a 12x19-foot video wall.

The proposed downtown plaza is one of 11 projects under consideration by Williamsburg’s Tourism Development Fund Grant Review Committee. The new plan for Goodwin Square calls for a temporary video screen rather than a permanent one.

» Nov. 2018: City Council signs off on a request from CW to hold outdoor concerts at its 21-acre Palace Farms field, but no programming has been scheduled yet.

» June 2019 and ongoing: Precarious Beer Hall opened in Merchants Square. Other openings on the horizon: Illy Coffee is expected to open in part of the former Binns building, and other yet-to-be-announced tenants will open throughout Merchants Square over the next year.

Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0. Heymann can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828 or on Twitter at @HeymannAmelia.

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