In 1936, 10 years after he’d turned Williamsburg, Virginia, into the pristinely preserved living-history museum it is today, John D. Rockefeller Jr. realized that there was a unique opportunity to monetize it. His idea was to create high-quality reproductions of the furnishings in the 88 buildings that make up the museum.
The furniture line was a runaway success, with pieces sold in the major department stores of the day like B. Altman in New York and Marshall Field’s in Chicago. The Williamsburg Brand continued to be a successful source of revenue for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation until the ’90s, when traditional American design began to fall out of fashion. “That’s when we realized we needed to evolve with the times and meet customers where they were at,” Liza Gusler, the museum’s product manager, tells Business of Home. “Our mantra now is ‘Trend meets tradition.’”
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