Martha Wren Briggs Amphitheatre at Lake Matoaka, Constructed 1946-1947
The Martha Wren Briggs Amphitheatre at Lake Matoaka at William & Mary sits on the edge of Lake Matoaka and is used primarily for concerts. In the past, the site has also been known as the Common Glory Stage, Matoaka Park, Matoaka Woods, Lake Matoaka Amphitheatre, or simply the Amphitheatre. The amphitheatre was planned in 1946 on the site of an old boathouse and was intended to be used for a colonial pageant in the summer and William & Mary functions during the academic year.
The Jamestown Corporation oversaw building the stage, dressing and prop rooms, and spotlight towers. Designed by architect Charles M. Major, the amphitheatre opened in the summer of 1947 with the production of The Common Glory which ran from July 17 to September 14 of that year.
In 1977, the lease with the Jamestown Corporation ended and, in 1979, equipment was auctioned, and storage and dressing rooms began to be used by dance classes. In May of 2006, a $7.6 million renovation began in cooperation with the Jamestown 2007 commemoration. Improvements include a new stage and seating area, ADA access ramps, and underground utilities. New buildings provided space for equipment and a ticket office/restroom. The project was completed in April of 2007.
In April 2016, the Board of Visitors at William & Mary voted to rename the amphitheatre in honor of Martha Wren Briggs ('55) for her commitment to the facility's restoration.