John D. Rockefeller, Jr.—the visionary and financial force in the creation of Colonial Williamsburg—supported the planning and building of the commercial properties contained within the Merchants Square and Resort Historic District. Rockefeller envisioned Merchants Square as a retail and hospitality service area for visitors to Colonial Williamsburg, which was located adjacent to it. Merchants Square also served as a new location for many of the downtown stores and offices that were moved out of the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area as a consequence of its restoration. The district’s period of significance spans from 1927, when Rockefeller and his architects began work on Merchants Square, to 1956, just four years prior to Rockefeller’s death. Many of the district’s buildings, such as the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, Craft House, and Williamsburg Lodge, are exemplars of the Colonial Revival style and were designed by architects of local and national renown who had to work out the problem of creating new buildings in historic community contexts that could serve modern uses and enterprises. The square’s landscaping softened the impact of automobiles by relying on landscaped parking areas and limited vehicular access. As a result, Merchants Square is a picturesque assemblage of structures designed to enhance a visitor’s experience in Colonial Williamsburg.
Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.
VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark
DHR has secured permanent legal protection for over 700 historic places - including 15,000 acres of battlefield lands
DHR has erected 2,532 highway markers in every county and city across Virginia
DHR has engaged over 450 students in 3 highway marker contests
DHR has stimulated more than $4.2 billion dollars in private investments related to historic tax credit incentives, revitalizing communities of all sizes throughout Virginia