Get the latest
Recent Posts

A Tribute to Our Namesake


Alice and Bill Marriott looking over a model for one of the Marriott Hotels.

In 1969, when J. Willard (Bill) Marriott Sr. contributed $1 million for library collections, he planted the seed for what is now one of the largest research libraries in the nation.  But his penchant for turning small beginnings into large-scale successes began long before the founding of the Marriott Library.
The Marriott empire made a humble beginning in 1927, when Mr. Marriott purchased the rights to sell Allen & Wright (A & W) root beer in Washington, D.C.  Alice Marriott’s flair for Mexican food soon led to the very popular Hot Shoppe restaurants, and the Marriott food service tradition, including the first airline catering service, took flight. In 1957, the first Marriott hotel – the Marriott Motor Lodge – opened in Arlington, Virginia. Sons of the late Bill and Alice Marriott, J. Willard Marriott Jr. and Richard E. Marriott, took the business that their father established and grew it into one of the largest empires in the hospitality industry.
Since the 1969 gift for collections, the library has benefited in many ways and on several occasions from the Marriotts’ generosity.  A sizable donation from Alice in 1988 established the Alice Sheets Marriott Endowment for the Fine Arts and Humanities in support of related collections. Several gifts made between 1990 and 1995 created the Marriott Endowment Library Fund, which provides important funding for the library.
The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation and the Marriott family made several major gifts to the library’s building renovation project, which commenced in 2005. A rededication ceremony was held on October 26, 2009 to celebrate the completion of the renovation, at which Former First Lady Laura Bush spoke.
Most recently the Alice S. Marriott Foundation committed to a $5 million gift, which will be used for facility improvements including new classrooms, furnishings, and equipment. A portion of the gift will create an endowed fund to support collections, facility maintenance and improvement, staff development, and other critical projects.