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Woodlands (Motor House)

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Motor House
1956, Department of Architecture, Colonial Williamsburg. 1966–1967, Cascades Wings, David Warren Hardwicke Associates. 2001–2002, addition, Carlton Abbott. Visitor Center

Conceived as part of the Visitor Center complex, the Motor House was distinct in character from accommodations at the Williamsburg Inn and Williamsburg Lodge. While the prewar hotels emphasized old-fashioned comfort and relaxation, here even the name connoted rapid modern travel. Approached by car from the north, it has the appearance of a conventional motel, distinguished only by careful brickwork with eighteenth-century overtones and modernist gables reminiscent of Charles M. Goodman's work in the 1950s. A staggered site pattern created open-fronted courtyards and reduced the apparent scale of the complex. On the rear, large-mullioned windows looked onto wooded land and gave the rooms a modern residential quality. Rooms were originally furnished with Eero Saarinen furniture and Ansel Adams photographs.

Buildings added in the 1960s were conceived as a series of flat-roofed pavilions with doubleloaded corridors on two floors. Richmond architect David Warren Hardwicke used gray wood siding applied vertically in a manner that allowed the walls to push out at the window bays, creating a columnar effect that stands comfortably in a mature pine grove. A portion of the 1956 woodlands is scheduled to be replaced by a multistory addition designed by Carlton Abbott.

Writing Credits

Richard Guy Wilson et al.


What's Nearby


Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Woodlands (Motor House)", [Williamsburg, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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