Monday, September 25, 2023

Ten Questions with Cheryl Griggs

(Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)

HISTORIC TRIANGLE — “Ten Questions with” is a series that allows readers to get to know local business leaders, volunteers and community members in the Historic Triangle.

This week, meet Cheryl Griggs from The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

What is your job title and description?

My title is Director of Interior and Exterior Design. I oversee décor-related initiatives, both
interior and exterior, for Colonial Williamsburg hospitality spaces, offices, residences and special projects.

Who do you interact/work with on a regular basis?

Project managers, construction managers, painters and carpenters, electricians, flooring
installers, furniture craftspeople, upholsters and drapery fabricators, curators, preservation and conservation professionals, development staff, furniture and fabric vendors, product licensing, hotel leadership including culinary, operations and management. I also work with internal marketing and PR, city leaders and external community organizations such as local garden clubs.

What is something about your job most people wouldn’t know about?

We have a sizable inventory of furnishings that has been collected over time starting in the early 1930s. We keep tabs on this inventory by photographing and documenting everything we install. It’s the only way to keep track of the thousands of (non-antique) furnishings assets at our disposal. I love using furnishings that have institutional provenance in interiors across the Foundation. It’s such fun studying old photographs of the interiors and spotting furnishings that are still part of our inventory. Many of these objects are original to the Williamsburg Inn, historic area guest houses and Williamsburg Lodge. My team teases me about treating these objects as if they are my children. I’m protective of the furnishings because they are not renewable, and they tell an important story about the history of Colonial Williamsburg’s interiors. As far as I’m concerned, they should remain part of our story forever more.

How do you define success?

The ability to persevere in the face of difficulty, working through challenges with a smile on your face, and remaining focused on the end goal, personally or professionally, no matter what obstacles you face along the way is key in achieving success. I have gained the most satisfaction from the most difficult opportunities.

What is your most successful accomplishment to date?

It’s difficult to say. I’m left with a sense of accomplishment at the end of most of my projects. But a recent renovation at the Williamsburg Inn was particularly rewarding. In this interior, I brought back many of the furnishings that had been removed during a 2016 renovation and featured a hot-off-the-press WILLIAMSBURG wallpaper mural, “Regency Views” produced by Paul Montgomery Studio, and inspired by artwork in a rare book at the John D. Rockefeller Library featuring Humphry Repton’s work. Repton was a well-known landscape designer in England in the late 18th and early 19th century. Also, the new “Dandridge Damask” fabric reproduced for WILLIAMSBURG by Schumacher from an original textile fragment of Martha Dandridge Custis Washington’s ball gown that’s part of Colonial Williamsburg’s textile collection at the museum. It was quite rewarding to see the spaces return to their former classical elegance, but with a fresh approach using multiple layers of décor that have meaning and relevance to the institution. I look forward to continuing this effort.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Time is a precious commodity; do not waste it! And don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for assistance. I’ve recently learned that colleagues and co-workers are willing to partner with you to accomplish a goal. Often, they’re equally interested in tackling a project, especially if it’s important to foundation goals.

(Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)

How long have you lived in the greater Williamsburg/York area?

36 years — and the time has flown by!

What is your favorite part of living here?

The rich and diverse history that can be found within the footprint of the historic triangle is
amazing. We’re fortunate to have such incredible resources at our fingertips!

What do you do for downtime/to relax?

Antiquing, spending time with friends and family, traveling, walking my one-year-old Cavalier King Charles, Abby, and researching to find new décor sources; new, vintage, and antique. I love the process!

What is the next step in your journey?

I’m always looking for an opportunity to learn, grow, and experience new things, and typically don’t shy away from taking on new challenges. I’m all about the ‘possibilities’ and look forward to the next challenging décor project to sink my teeth into!

Do you want to learn more about your community and the people that live and work in the Historic Triangle? We are looking for people with interesting jobs, super volunteers, or community leaders to showcase. Reach out to let us know if you (or someone you know) would like to be considered for Ten Questions.

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