Join the Friends of the Owens-Thomas House
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Friends of the Owens-Thomas House, or FOT, is a member engagement group whose assistance allows the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters to continue its preservation efforts, interpretation development, and visitor programming. The group enjoys special access to the Owens-Thomas House through garden parties, lectures, and tours. In addition, opportunities to meet and socialize with others interested in architecture, decorative arts, gardening, and history are scheduled throughout the year, as well as local and regional field trips to historic sites.
Join the Friends of the Owens-Thomas House for
Dinner with the Experts: Sundays at 6:30pm
Lecture Series IV: March 21, 28 and April 11
A Matter of Materials: Preservation, Conservation, and Restoration
Moderated by Dr. Nicole Blackwood, President of Friends of the Owens-Thomas House
Preservation and the Architect’s Eye: Science and Imagination
Peter Pennoyer, Principal of Peter Pennoyer Architects
Award-winning architect, Peter Pennoyer, will discuss the challenges of architectural preservation. Some challenges can be met with technical expertise alone, while others require judgement and imagination – even artistic license. Using specific case studies, Pennoyer will discuss how he confronts these various problems with examples drawn from buildings from a range of historic periods. What do you do, for example, when a nineteenth-century house has some original moldings, while others are inferior catalogue-shopped parts from the 1970s? Pennoyer will explain his rationale and process for preservation and how his firm creates historically accurate restorations. He will also discuss how to approach buildings that were left incomplete or unfinished. Walking us through structure, historical sources, and context – he maintains that it can be appropriate to complete a historical structure as it might have been.
Another Shade of Blue: Paint Discoveries in Nineteenth-Century Urban Slave Quarters
Dr. Susan Buck, Independent Paint Conservator and Analyst
The most compelling and accessible paints in the Owens-Thomas House Cellar and the quarters for enslaved people in the Carriage House are the chalky blue washes that survive in many of these spaces. What are these pigmented coatings and what might they mean for the interpretation of these work areas and chambers? New comparative paint analysis using cross-section and polarized light microscopy analysis techniques has revealed that there are multiple pigmented and unpigmented limewashes on the plaster and woodwork. The blue-pigmented washes which are now obvious to visitors are the most recent coatings in areas where there are up to 17 generations of coatings, including earlier yellow and pinkish pigmented limewashes. These pigmented washes are not unique to the Owens-Thomas House. Similar nineteenth-century pigmented coatings have been found in context at other kitchen-laundry buildings and carriage houses of comparable importance in Charleston, South Carolina. This lecture will explain how these paints are analyzed and interpreted, and will offer new insights into their compositions and relative dates.
Restoring English Gardens and Researching Eighteenth-Century Plant Materials
Dr. Mark Laird, Associate Professor, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto
Professor Mark Laird will discuss why researching eighteenth-century plant materials involves a different methodology from that used by architectural conservators investigating interior ornamentation. He will illustrate, by example of Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, that in 2010, unlike the paints and plasterwork of the interiors, the vegetative remnants of Walpole’s gardening were non-existent. Visualizing how to restore Walpole’s vanished groves and shrubbery to the period 1747-1797 involved using textual and pictorial archives, supported by a fund of plant-material studies that began in the early 1980s with Laird’s replanting Charles Hamilton’s Painshill Park, Surrey, to its glory days 1738-1773. Mark Laird’s 40-year work for Painshill Park Trust also leads him to consider the place of women in Georgian gardening. By comparing the paltry wages paid to “weeder women” to the huge prices paid for a single Magnolia grandiflora from South Carolina, he arrives at some arresting conclusions. He will end by reviewing Professor Roderick Floud’s 2019 Economic History of the English Garden. Floud’s findings – that, put in 2020 money values, “Hamilton was paid well over £60 million from public funds for doing very little” — prompts a complementary proposition: that expenditure on plant-material-based restoration is today’s way of reclaiming assets for huge public benefit.
April Keynote / Garden Party Lecture
The Horse and the Historic House in England
Elizabeth Jamieson, Director, The Attingham Study Program
The story of the horse is woven into the fabric of Savannah and very much still present in the carriage house at the Owens-Thomas House. In this lecture, Elizabeth Jamieson, an independent researcher, lecturer, art-historian and curatorial advisor to the National Trust on horse-drawn carriages and historic stables, will discuss her research discoveries made in the process of writing her soon to be published book: Travelling in Style – The British Carriage in Town and Country.
(Oct 4, 2020) Captive Accommodations: Explorations of Extant Urban and Suburban Slave Quarters
September 13, 2020 “A Really Old Door…”: Rediscovering Nathaniel Russell House’s Kitchen House by Grahame Long, Director of Museums at Historic Charleston Foundation
Join us for these exciting FOT events!