Bassett Hall, the $4.4 million restored Williamsburg plantation house that was the vacation home of several generations of Rockefellers, has been given to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
Among plans being considered are restoring it as an early plantation and developing interpretive exhibits there, according to Pat La Land, a spokesman for the foundation that operates the restored 18th century town as a tourist and convention center.
The 18th century, two-story frame plantation house comes with 585 surrounding acres of woodland, stream valleys and ravines at the edge of the town's restored district.
It was willed to the historic town by the late John D. Rockefeller III, who was killed in a car accident last July. Rockefeller's widow, children and his brother, David Rockefeller, were given prior rights to the home, but have released them to the foundation, according to Carlisle H. Humelsine, foundation board chairman.
Humelsine said the gift "reflects Rockefeller's lifelong interest" in Williamsburg.
Williamsburg has been a continuing Rockefeller family interest since 1927 when John D. Rockfeller Jr. and his wife, Abby, stopped to visit the then-decaying town during a motor tour of the South. Approached by the Rev. Dr. William Goodwin, professor of sacred literature at the College of William and Mary, with an idea to restore the buildings still standing from the colonial period, Rockefeller entered into a partnership that eventually led to a $50 million investment and the complete restoration of the town.
In 1927, Rockfeller bought Bassett Hall, built before 1766 by a member of the colonial House of Burgesses, and began its preservation and restoration.
According to foundation spokesman La Land, Rockefeller and his wife used Bassett Hall at least two months each year until Rockefeller's death in 1960. "Mrs. Rockefeller especially liked to visit back and forth in small-town fashion with the next door neighbors who acquanted her with such delicacies as Sally Lunn (cake), beaten biscuit and pickled oysters," La Land said.
The plantation house is surrounded by 18th century outbuildings, a kitchen, smokehouse, dairy and organery. "The house is in excellent condition," La Land said, "and we certainly want the public to see it."
"Bassett Hall represents a rare opportunity to preserve an original 18th century property and its environment, Humelsine said, and, at the same time, a unique and important historical document as a home of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller Jr. and their family. CAPTION: Picture, Bassett Hall, a restored plantation house,was built before 1766 by a member of the House of Burgesses. Colonial Williamsburg