A Guide to the William Graves Perry papers, 1930-1940 Papers, William Graves Perry MS 1999.15

A Guide to the William Graves Perry papers, 1930-1940

A Collection in the
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation`s
John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library
Manuscript Number MS 1999.15


John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
P.O. Box 1776
Williamsburg, Virginia 23187
Phone: (757) 565-8520
Fax: (757) 565-8528
Email: speccoll@cwf.org
URL: http://www.history.org

© 2008 By The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

Processed by: Special Collections Staff

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Manuscript Number
MS 1999.15
William Graves Perry Papers 1930-1940
Physical Characteristics
Papers, LPs, and other items.
Perry, William Graves
On site

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

William Graves Perry papers, Manuscript #MS 1999.15, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Acquisition Information

Gift, 1999

Biographical Information

William Graves Perry was born November 8, 1883 in Boston, Massachusetts and raised in Newburyport. He was a descendent of an old Newburyport seafaring family. Perry graduated from Harvard in 1905, received his first degree in architecture from MIT in 1907, and another from Paris’ L’Ecole des Beaux Arts in 1913. He taught architecture at Harvard from 1915-1916. In 1908 he married Eleanor Gray Bodine. Together they had three children, two daughters and one son, but divorced in 1934. Perry served as a Captain in the Air Force from 1916-1919. In 1922 he founded the firm of Perry, Shaw, and Hepburn. Their firm continues to be known for university and commercial buildings, including several on the Harvard campus and Colonial Williamsburg’s John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library. Perry’s relationship with Williamsburg began informally in 1926 after a chance meeting with Reverend Goodwin, the originator of the plan to restore the capital. In 1927 Perry, Shaw and Hepburn submitted drawings and were officially hired as the project’s architects. The firm retained ties to the project until the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation created its own architecture department in 1953. Perry married Frances McElfresh Ames in 1945. She remained his wife until he died April 4, 1975 in Boston.

Scope and Content

A series within the 20th Century Collection, the William Graves Perry papers are organized into subseries: Art and architecture, Collections, Colonial Williamsburg, Correspondence, Family, Notes, and Photographs, prints, and other art.

Art and Architecture comprises items related to Perry's practice, including a certificate to practice in Maryland and an article about Sir Christopher Wren. An avid collector, the Collections series is a sampling of the items Perry acquired through the years. Evidence of Perry's contribution to the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg is available in the Colonial Williamsburg subseries. A small amount of Correspondence is contained in the subseries of the same name. Items within the Family subseries pertain to his wife, France, and son, William G. Perry, Jr. Notes taken by Perry in a variety of circumstances, including a Spanish language class, are found in the Notes subseries. Photographs is the largest of the subseries, and is a collection in its own right. Ranging from photographs of the American Embassy in London to prints of Benjamin Franklin and Japanese art, these items represent the range of Perry's interests.


The papers are arranged in series.

Index Terms


  • Perry, France McElfresh
  • Perry, William Graves
  • Perry, William Graves, Jr.
  • Corporate Names:

  • Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
  • Perry, Shaw, and Hepburn
  • Subjects:

  • Architecture
  • Correspondence - Perry, William Graves.
  • Genre and Form Terms:

  • Black-and-white photographs

Contents List

  • Box 1
    Art and Architecture
    • "Builder's Compleat Assistant" (2 pages)
    • Calendars (2)
    • Certificate to practice architecture, Maryland
    • "Documentary Research-Tryon Palace"
      (3 folders)
    • Material brochures
    • Postcards (various artists)
    • Scrapbook, primarily English and French architecture
    • "Topographical List of Subjects Illustrated"
    • Wren, Sir Christopher (Article from "Life" magazine)
  • Collections
    • Books
      • Catalogs
      • French songs
      • International Postage Stamp Album
    • Box 2
      Historical manuscripts
      • "A Notable Lawsuit"
      • Commonplace book, ca. 1884
      • Diary/recipe book
      • Navigational record
      • Physics class notes
      • Perry, Rev. Gardner B. "Constitution of the Sabbath School Association, Bradford"
    • Newspaper clippings
      • Animals and naturalists
      • Art and architecture
      • Books
      • Colonial Williamsburg
      • Gardening
      • Harvard University
      • Language
      • Political history
      • Royal wedding, 1947
      • Stamps
      • Weather
      • Miscellaneous
    • Recipes
    • Religion
  • Box 3
    Colonial Williamsburg
    • "General Statement on the Restoration of Colonial Williamsburg"
    • Interview, Charles B. Hosmer, Jr. and William G. Perry (transcript)
    • Phone book and Travis House booklet
  • Correspondence
  • Family
    • Guest book
    • Perry, Frances McElfresh
      • Connecticut College reunion materials
      • Continental Literature notebook
        (2 folders)
    • Perry Jr., William Graves
      • "Of Study and the Man"
  • Notes
    • Building record
    • Furniture (mother's estate)
    • Income tax, ca. 1933-1934
    • Spanish lessons
  • Photographs, prints, and other art
    • American Embassy, London (40 5x7" prints)
      • Exterior (4 prints)
      • Interior (36 prints)
    • American Embassy, London (8x10" prints)
      • Bathrooms (4 prints)
      • Stairway
      • Kitchen
    • Foreign art and architecture (multiple locations)
    • Franklin, Benjamin
      • Doctor Franklin, London: Published by William Cole. 10 Newgate Street. January 1825.
      • Benjamin Franklin. Né à Boston dans la Nouvelle Angleterre, le 17 Janvier 1706. Des rayes del. La Beau scul A Paris chés Esnauts et Rapilly, rue St. Jacques à la Ville de Coutances A.P.D.R.
      • Benjamin Franklin. Drawn by h. Billings. Eng'd by Smith, Knight & Tappan. Handwritten on back-"September 17, 1856" "Boston" There is also a faint signature on bottom right corner on the back.
      • Franklin. From Hudson's Bust. Engraved by T.B. Welch. R. Andrews printer Boston. Published by Tappan & Dennet. There is a handwritten note on bottom, "Fred-Can get another [illegible] if you want but this is superb."
      • The "Many-Sided Franklin." Copyright: J.L.G. Ferris, Philadelphia.
      • Benjamin Franklin, L.L.D. Engraved by R. Page. Published by J. Robins & Co. London. May 17, 1823
      • Benj. Franklin. Painted by Alonzo Chappel. Engd. By T. Phillibrown. Martin, Johnson, & Company, Publishers, New York. Entered according to act of Congress AD 1857 by Martin, Johnson, & Co. in the clerk's office of the district court of the southern district of N.Y.
    • Box 4 (oversize)
      Scrapbook (Madeira 1970)
    • Asian (unspecified, 1 print)
    • Assorted
      • India print of Mr. Charles Major
      • "The Architect"
        • Cathedral Series, No. 641 and No. 642, 1908 July 31
        • Oxford College Series
          • St. John's: Chapel and President's Dwelling (No. 21)
          • St. John's: Garden Front (No. 22)
          • Queen's (No. 37)
          • Queen's: Front Quad (No. 38)
          • Queen's: Back Quad and Library (No. 39)
          • Queen's: Back Quad (No. 40)
      • "The British Architect", 1887 December 16
        • Old Cornish Bench Ends (Plate 6)
        • An Old Cornish Coach (Plate 7)
        • An Old Cornish Doorway, Trewinnard (Plate 8)
        • Rambling Sketches-Ludgvan, St. Hilary, and Guval (Plate 13)
      • Rowlandson, 'Doctor Syntax, Rural Sport', published by R. Ackermann, 1812 May 1 (Plate 20)
      • Pugin and Havell, 'Hall of Sidney College', published in R. Ackermann'sHistory of Cambridge, 1815 January .
      • West Deeping, Wyman & Sons Printers (Plate 109)
      • Haghe, L, Unidentified building, possibly King's College, (Original drawing by Rev. J. Tomkyns, Fellow of King's College)
      • Sheldon Jr., J, 'View Near the Laurels, Newbury [MA]', Bufford & Co. Lithographers, 1841.
      • Beagley, C.A. St. Darr-Wilby Northants from the Northwest (À)
      • Samuel H. Cress Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
        • Robert, Hubert, 'The Old Bridge'
        • Guardi, 'A Seaport and Classic Ruins in Italy'
      • Currier and Ives, 'The Celebrated Clipper Ship "Dreadnought"'
      • Coello, 'Phillip II Prado', 1952
      • Unidentified female wearing crown
      • Eakins, Thomas, 'Miss Van Buren', The Phillips Collection, Washington
      • Wickes and Newman, 'Saint Peter's, Kettering.'
      • Turner, W. 'Stretton Upon Dunsmore Church'.
      • B., A.E. 'Doors'.
      • Dighton and Bartholomew, 'West Elevation of Hamptonlucy Church, Warwickshire.'
    • National Palace Museum, Taichung, Taiwan
      • Li, Ti, 'Cowherds Fleeing a Storm'.
      • Shen, Tzu-fan, 'Landscape'.
      • Johnson, John and Newman, A., "Reliques of Ancient English Architecture", ca. 1857-1880.
        • St. Mary's, Warmington (pp. 58 and 60)
        • Middleton Cheney (p. 8)
        • Luddington (p. 37)
        • Holy Cross, Byfield (p. 52)
        • St. Mary, Rushden (p. 17)
        • Kingstead Church (p. 38)
        • St. Margaret's Crick (p. 76)
        • Aldwinkle All Saints (p. 70)
        • Barnark (p. 10)
        • S. Porch of Chacomb Church and S. Porch of Dundle Church (p. 17)
        • Kings Sutton (p. 72)
        • West Doorway in Tower, Higham, Ferrers' (p. 62)
        • Barnwell, St. Andrew (p. 18)
        • Whiston Church (p. 41)
        • Dundle Church (p. 73)
        • St. Mary's Higham Ferrers (p. 61)
        • West Doorway in Tower, Warmington and Aisle Window, Warmington (p. unknown)
    • Japanese (4 prints)
    • Oxford College
      • July 31, 1908-Sprague & Co., ltd., Printers, 4&5 East Harding St., E.C.
        • No. 21.-St. John's: chapel & President's Dwelling.
        • No. 22.-St. John's: Garden Front.
      • April 16, 1909
        • No. 37.-Queen's.
        • No. 38.-Queen's: Front Quad.
      • April 30, 1909
        • No. 39.-Queen's: Back Quad and Library.
        • No. 40.-Queen's: Back Quad.
    • Sketches, unknown origin (49 pieces)

Significant Persons Associated With the Collection

  • Perry, France McElfresh
  • Perry, William Graves
  • Perry, William Graves, Jr.