WILLIAMSBURG – It's the job of William and Mary's Historic Campus executive director to coordinate the care of three historic buildings on campus: the Wren Building, the Brafferton and the President's House.

The current executive director, Louise Kale, has spent close to two decades serving William and Mary in various capacities, and on July 18 the college announced Kale will retire in August.

"As the intrepid interpreter and faithful steward of our Historic Campus, she enjoys iconic status among us, just as do the Wren, the Brafferton and the President's House," William and Mary president Taylor Reveley said in a statement. "Louise's knowledge of William and Mary's storied past and her devotion to its explanation and preservation are simply extraordinary. Her contributions to our understanding of William & Mary and to the welfare of its venerable precincts have been enormous."

Kale grew up in college housing on Jamestown Road as the daughter of J. Wilfred Lambert, an alumnus, respected professor and administrator who served as dean of students from 1945 to 1970. According to the college's announcement, Kale learned how to play tennis on the college's tennis courts, went ice skating on Lake Matoaka with her brother and witnessed noteworthy moments in campus history such as the 1953 fire in the original Phi Beta Kappa Hall.

Kale went to work for William and Mary first for the fine arts department, where she helped manage the college's art collection, which included many important portraits of people associated with the college's history. She later worked for the Muscarelle Museum of Art, where she served as registrar and then building manager. According to the college's announcement, she became the Historic Campus caretaker in 1995, and since then has overseen the management, care and preservation of the school's colonial buildings and colonial revival structures around the Sunken Garden.

Timothy J. Sullivan, who served as the college's president from 1992 to 2005, called her "a William and Mary treasure."

"Few can know how much she has done to protect and enhance the architectural crown jewels of the college," Sullivan said in a statement. "Louise's brilliant stewardship has also illuminated our understanding of William and Mary's early history and the power of its relevance not only for our time but for the future."

Kale said in a statement she is currently writing a book about the development of the William and Mary campus over the years.

"I really feel like I have experienced almost every facet of the College of William and Mary on one level or another," she said. "There are very few parts of the college that I have not had some contact with in the last 19 years. And that has been my greatest joy."

Sampson can be reached at 757-345-2345.