Branching Out: Large and in Charge

By Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak Premium

Quick — which US president was once an indentured servant who bought his freedom for $30? Which commander in chief was born in 1790 and has grandchildren still living today? You can discover answers to questions such as these at the newly opened Presidents Park, which gives history buffs yet another reason to visit Williamsburg, Va. Featuring 42 oversize presidential busts, the park joins nearby Colonial Williamsburg <>, Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center <> as an attraction that appeals to the growing ranks of history-minded travelers.

At age 68, when many people are already enjoying (or at least contemplating) retirement, artist David Adickes hired a dozen people and launched a five-year undertaking that would pay tribute to the American presidency in the form of 18- to 20-foot-tall, 7,500- to 9,000-pound statues. A local developer provided a home for an outdoor museum where the concrete and steel busts now dwarf people who wander among them, absorbing the accompanying biographies, lists of accomplishments, quotes and entertaining facts.

While most visitors choose to meander along the chronologically organized path, some opt to follow the color-coded theme tours on topics such as First Ladies and Assassinations and Near Misses. Audio tours, special exhibits, a gift shop and educational programs also are available — call (757) 259-1121 or log on to <> for details.

At Presidents Park in Williamsburg, Va., visitors can get up close and personal with larger-than-life-size busts of George Washington (top, in foreground), William Howard Taft (above) and 40 other US presidents.

Can’t wait till you get to Williamsburg to satisfy your chief-executive curiosity? Millard Fillmore was the servant-turned-head of state. And those present-day progeny call John Tyler “Grandpa.”

From the August 2004 issue of Family Tree Magazine.