Prior to European settlement, the area around modern-day Williamsburg was settled by the indigenous American tribes of the Powhatan Confederacy. Williamsburg was first settled in 1638 and was originally referred to as Middle Plantation due to its location on the high ground in the middle of the Virginia Peninsula. In 1699, Middle Plantation was renamed Williamsburg in honor of King William III of England.
By the turn of the 20th century, Williamsburg was a quiet country village, and many colonial buildings, while still standing, were in disrepair. The Reverend Dr. D.A.R. Goodwin made it his goal to restore Williamsburg to its colonial spendor, seeking financial help from none other than John D. Rockefeller Jr., the heir to Standard Oil. It was due to the Rockefeller contributions that Williamsburg became what it is today: A living museum, with history preserved and on exhibit every day.