Baking up a unique auction item

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Baking up a unique auction item

Editor’s Note: Many creative RHM minds turned a live and silent auction into a fun and exciting experience at the Patron Party on Friday, April 26, the evening before the Daffodil Stroll, the museum’s popular garden tour. No action item was more alluring on the auction list than an evening of biscuit making at the Buckeye Lake home of Dr. Thomas Wortham and the Rev. John Kauffman and sometime this summer, the flour will fly in their kitchen. The entire event - Patron Party, auctions, sponsorships, and garden tour - raised more than $18,000 for the museum, making this the highest net income event in the history of the museum. To take an inside look at one part of this amazing event, we asked Tom, a board member, to pen his thoughts about creating this one amazing auction item.

 

I love the excitement of auctions. They provide a relatively safe way to exercise that human demand for competitive behavior that is the underbelly of civilized society.  Therefore, when I saw that the Robbins Hunter Museum was going to hold an auction in connection with its recent Garden-Day celebrations, I mentioned to my husband John that we should contribute something. “Not our home,” he quickly replied, reminding me of the request from a local charity a year or two ago that we should vacate Heronroost, our house at Buckeye Lake, for a few days so that someone else could enjoy its views and cool breezes. 

Still we did want to participate in this new venture of the museum.  But how? John is a Master Gardener, and we are both great admirers of the gardens that Laura Burchfield is helping to create on the museum grounds. “We’ll figure out something,” he promised, “something that won’t require us to be homeless.”

A few days later we were having dinner with our friends Lucy Porter and Ann Lowder and the challenge of the auction came up in conversation. Silence descended.  Ann, always the master in these situations, was the first to break the silence: “Why don’t you share Regina Charboneau’s method for making flaky butter biscuits, and then allow your guests to practice their new skills at a party at Heronroost.”  

Even more than auctions, I like Regina Charboneau, whom the New York Times has called the “biscuit-queen of Natchez.” She is an amazingly talented woman with whom John and I became friends during my host duties on several UCLA-sponsored alumni trips on the “American Queen,” the stately luxury paddle boat on the Mississippi.  At the time, Regina was the vessel’s Executive Chef, and one of the shore excursions was always a visit to “Twin Oaks,” her Antebellum house in Natchez, where Regina would entertain “Southern Style,” the star of which for me was a heaping plate of her deliciously wicked ham biscuits.   

The Rev. John Kauffman and the “biscuit queen of Natchez”, Regina Charboneau, in her kitchen at Twin Oaks in Natchez, Miss.

The Rev. John Kauffman and the “biscuit queen of Natchez”, Regina Charboneau, in her kitchen at Twin Oaks in Natchez, Miss.

 I love good biscuits, and it came as no surprise to our friends that John and I both quickly fell in love with Regina.  We have been guests in her house on several occasions, and so it was just a matter of time before the day came when she called John into her kitchen with these magic words, “Let’s make biscuits.”  I doubt if Virginia was any happier when she was told that there was indeed a Santa Claus.

Now every good son or daughter of the South has a recipe for biscuits (in my case make that grandson).  My juvenile culinary creations even won a prize at the Kansas State Fair in 1959, a recipe that I later demonstrated on a local television station (yes, those were simpler times).  John, on the other hand, hasn’t a drop of Southern blood in his veins; he’s just a good cook.

So the matter was settled: we’d teach the lucky bidders how to make Regina’s biscuits. It was our sacred duty.   After all, hadn’t I told our neighbors in California when we announced our plans to retire in Ohio where we’d do “missionary work” among the natives? 

We’ll begin the afternoon with mint juleps fortified by trays of Regina’s cheese coins and ham biscuits.  Then proceed to the Kitchen Aide mixers lined up at attention in our kitchen ready for battle, the spoils of which will be boxes of biscuits for each of our guests to take home.  After these Herculean labors, we’ll retreat to our deck for a victory dinner.  Of course, the ever reliable Ohio weather will be perfect that day, but the next morning I shall probably wonder, “Where did all this flour on the counters and floors of the kitchen come from?” 

On second thought, perhaps we had better wait until the biscuits are done and the flour returned to it canister before we serve the libations.

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Board of Trustees expands to meet new challenges

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Board of Trustees expands to meet new challenges

The Robbins Hunter Museum is pleased to announce four new members to the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees manages the business of the Avery-Downer House. Members volunteer their time and passion to ensure the mission of the Robbins Hunter Museum is carried through.

Over the past year or so, the board lost several valuable members due to time commitments, moving away, or retirement. “Knowing the Museum was going into a period of self-analysis, it was time to create a long-range planning committee to chart a course for the future, and the growth and development of the museum,” said Christina Gray, president.

“Looking at the existing board, we realized there were several areas that needed representation. We needed more businessmen and women to keep our eye to the goals; we needed an attorney for insight and legal advice, and we needed younger members ready to make an impact on the museum and the community.”

We asked them to tell us a little about themselves and their perspectives as new members:

 

John Martin

John Martin

For 15 years John held executive positions at a software and services company. His executive responsibilities ranged from marketing to consulting services to international operations where he managed business development and marketing initiatives. He is a current member and former officer of East Central Ohio SCORE, a nonprofit association under SBA dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship.

“Robbins Hunter Museum is a unique part of the community and has the potential to appeal to a national audience,” John says. “As board members we have an individual and collective responsibility to expand the appeal of this asset to the wider area. And on a local level, to raise the awareness within the community of this not so well-known treasure.”

John believes the biggest challenge in the next few years is establishing financial stability and then to increase the endowment to ensure future stability and allow the museum to gain presence to a wider audience.

“The first step in addressing an issue is to define the problem and then the solutions,” he says. “The current board is well into this process.”

 

  

Catherine Burgett

Catherine Burgett

Catherine is a member in Frost Brown Todd’s Columbus office where her practice focuses on the representation of both public and private employers in a broad range of labor and employment matters, including traditional labor work, employment litigation, breach of contract, and advising employers on a daily basis regarding employment issues.  She represents a wide variety of small, mid-size, and large employers, including those in the health care, manufacturing, logistics, technology, food service, construction, retail, and customer service industries, as well as several public sector entities in Ohio and surrounding states.       

Catherine is a graduate of Denison University, the William and Mary School of Law, and the Mason School of Business.  In addition to other accomplishments, she was named to Columbus Business First 40 under 40 in 2015, is a 2015 graduate of the Leadership Columbus program, and an Ohio State Bar Foundation Fellow.       

“As a graduate of Denison and someone who believes that the treasures of the past must be preserved to inform and enhance the future, Robbins Hunter Museum is a perfect fit,” says Catherine. “I am excited to lend any assistance I can to the Board and the museum as a whole. I believe the biggest challenge for RHM is defining its mission to both serve its historical legacy and to be well positioned for future growth.”

 

 

 

Sandra Lodge

Sandra Lodge

Growing up in Lancaster, Ohio, Sandra became exposed to local history and unique historical homes at an early age. She recognizes that the Robbins Hunter Museum falls into both of those categories. “Serving as a volunteer board member provides an opportunity to work with other community members in preserving and promoting one of the jewels of downtown Granville,” Sandra says.

After graduating from OSU with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Sandra worked at a Big 4 public accounting firm in Columbus.  While working there she earned her CPA license and achieved her Masters of Business Administration from Capital University.   Following five years of public accounting, Sandra worked in The Limited’s corporate division of Store Design & Construction for seven years.  She then started at Licking County Library in 2007.  Sandra was thrilled to find a job that combined her knowledge of accounting / finance and her love of books, especially mysteries (book mysteries, not accounting mysteries!).

“I have enjoyed volunteering with multiple community organizations in Granville and would like to share those experiences with RHM,” she adds. “As a CPA, I can also offer financial skills to assist the board.”

One of the biggest challenges over the next few years, she said, will be to balance all of the unique features of the museum from its Victoria Woodhull Clock Tower and the history of Mrs. Woodhull to its nationally ranked daffodils garden to the architectural significance of the Avery-Downer house with the available financial resources. “The board is positioning itself to address all of these unique features by updating its strategic plan, preparing to have a facility assessment completed to properly plan for future maintenance and enhancing its marketing and event planning.”

 

 

Rachel Menzer

Rachel Menzer

Rachel hails from Johnstown, PA and Sebewaing, MI. She was first introduced to Licking County by her husband, Drew, who grew up here. They have two children, James, 3, and Kate, 2. Rachel graduated from St. John's College in Annapolis, MD, in 2013 with a BA of liberal arts. During college, she completed an internship at the Saginaw Art Museum in Saginaw, MI, another museum housed in a beautiful historic home and garden.

 “One of my favorite aspects of the village of Granville is its historic charm. I chose to volunteer as a board member so that I may become more involved in our community while volunteering my time to a museum that treasures our history,” Rachel said.

She is interested in helping the museum continue to engage a larger audience, especially families and students, so that the next generation appreciates its history and becomes leaders for tomorrow.

 “I think our biggest challenge is going to be balancing our goals to grow the museum with continuing the important work that is already being done,”she said.  “I believe the board is full of people with diverse talents and connections and that we will be well-positioned to achieve this balance.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We asked...you answered!

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We asked...you answered!

The last issue of our newsletter carried the story of a group of black and white transfer china pieces in which the potter used images created by W.H. Bartlett.   Our records were unclear as to the name of the donor and so we posed the question to you, our readers, to help us solve the mystery. 

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The good news is that three people responded…..and each had the same idea of whom the donor might have been.  Each one suggested Doris Mavis.  Now, we can find no record of Doris having been a volunteer at the museum, but obviously, in 1984, something prompted her to generously donate these fine pieces.

One caller identified Doris Mavis as having lived in the house at the corner of Elm and Mulberry Streets in Granville before moving to Kendal where she passed away in 2018.  The caller thought Doris had been a member of the Granville Garden Club (maybe she volunteered in the garden at the museum). 

Another reader says that Doris Mavis was married to Stephen Mavis (a Colonel  in the military) and was a sorority sister of one of our former docents (Kappa Alpha Theta), “an interesting and nice person.”  A third reader suggests the same information. 

Our records have been improved. Thank you to all who read and who took the time to help solve this mystery!

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From the Collection

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From the Collection

Tucked inside of one of these ornate vases was a note that read:

“Mantle Vases—Pair—the gorgeous vases that were Aunt Lottie’s (Charlotte Spelman) always stood on a mantle piece—never on moveable furniture—accounts for their preservation for so long a time.  They are very valuable.”  The note is signed, “EDC” (Emily Downer Cole), 140 years old Family Heirloom, not to be sold.”

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In 1993, Marvanelle Downer Nelson, the great-great niece of Charlotte “Aunt Lottie” Spelman, brought the pair of vases back to Granville and they now grace the mantle in the Ladies’ parlor at the Robbins Hunter Museum.  They flank a clock that also belonged to the Downer family.

The vases are examples of “Old Paris” or “Vieux Paris” porcelain, a form that is highly prized by collectors around the world.  An incredible quantity and variety of forms were manufactured in and around the city of Paris in the nineteenth century, primarily before 1870.  As with most Old Paris porcelain, these vases are not marked.  They are beautifully decorated with applied poppies and leaves, cobalt, gilt, and painted flowers.  Also, as was the custom, each bears a similar, but slightly different image of flowers.

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If Charlotte were here, I would like to ask her how she came by the vases?  Did someone bring them as a gift? Perhaps a suitor? Or did she purchase them locally?  The more one learns, the more questions one has!

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From the Director

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From the Director

SUMMER

The song says, “Summer time and the living is easy.”  In the museum world, activity changes too.  School groups have come and gone, as have the Denison students.  Now the doors open to visitors who, for the most part, are on holiday, visiting the picturesque “New England” Village set in the Midwest.  Part of their relaxation is visiting historic homes, or studying early material culture, or renewing their spirits in a garden.  Robbins Hunter Museum is ready to meet those wishes and a whole lot more!

Daily, our docents are prepared to talk about the significance of the Greek revival architecture of the Avery-Downer House, its collection of 19th century furniture and art, and to tell the stories of those who lived here. Docents have prepared the house for its summer interpretation: a croquet set by the door in the Ladies’ Parlor, netting covering the gold leaf mirror to protect from fly specks, and a slipcover over the velvet upholstery, all give an impression of the family’s day-to-day life during summer months.  As a bonus, the Victoria Woodhull Clock Tower entertains hourly and her story is heard (mostly for the first time) by surprised audiences.  Our special exhibit, “Ordinary & Extraordinary: Victorian Undergarments 1860-1880,” that shows the wardrobe of a typical Granville woman, continues through the end of the year.

This summer marks our inaugural concert season in the Dale and Tina Knobel Folly.  On the second Sunday of each month, professional musicians will perform at 4 p.m.  On June 9, UCelli, a group of four virtuoso  opened the season to an appreciative audience. The series continues with Bel Aurora featuring the Newark-Granville Symphony string quintet on July 14 and a Brass Extravaganza with NGSO brass quintet on August 11.  All performances are FREE, thanks to support from the Granville Community Foundation.  They will be followed by a reception in the museum.  To make a reservation for the reception, go to www.robbinshunter.org. or call 740-587-0430.

So make a visit to the Robbins Hunter Museum part of your “summer time” plans.  You will be glad you did!

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Popular garden tour and patron party announced

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Popular garden tour and patron party announced

“There’s something about peacefulness and connection one feels in a garden,” says Holly Shai, this year’s chairperson for the biennial garden tour, sponsored by Robbins Hunter Museum. “The garden brings serenity to me and I want others to feel the emotions I get when I’m in the garden.”

Holly Griesse Shai chairs the Granville Daffodil Stroll this year and as you can see, she loves flowers, especially Daffodils!

Holly Griesse Shai chairs the Granville Daffodil Stroll this year and as you can see, she loves flowers, especially Daffodils!

Shai, as chairperson of this year’s tour, is pleased to announce the “Granville Daffodil Stroll, A Celebration of Spring,” a tour of selected gardens in Granville, is set for Saturday, April 27, from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., with a Patron Party on Friday, April 26, the evening before. This year’s tour is scheduled two weeks after the popular Granville Daffodil Show, setting the stage for more Daffodil viewing as they grow and bloom in the natural settings of village gardens.

Past garden tours have taken place in the summer. This year, Shai says, the event will be a celebration of spring. “Everything is so hopeful in the spring,” she says. “It’s a good time for enjoying our local gardens, especially with the popularity of the Daffodil flower here in Granville. It will be fun to see them blooming in gardens.”

Five gardens are on tap for touring, from those professionally designed to those that are homeowner labors of love. Shai’s own garden will be included, where visitors are invited to stroll her hybrid garden of rhododendrons and azaleas. “We’re now 24 years into our garden,” Shai says of the gardens on the 26-acre property, “and each year my husband, Park, and I add something new.”

A statue stands in the Shai garden, as seen at the 2017 Granville Garden Tour.

A statue stands in the Shai garden, as seen at the 2017 Granville Garden Tour.

The weekend kicks off with the Patron Party on Friday, April 26, at 6 p.m. at the Museum, a pre-tour event open to the public. Tickets are $75 and include one ticket to the garden tour the next day, food, beverages and lots of socializing. As tour day dawns, volunteers gear up to sell tickets and be on hand at tour gardens to welcome visitors.

The tour, in its 3rd year and the largest fund raiser for RHM, attracts more than 450 people. Tickets at $25 each can be purchased on line HERE or at the door of the museum anytime during tour day. The event is rain or shine. All proceeds support on the ongoing development and maintenance of the Jill Griesse Historic Garden on the grounds of the Avery-Downer House, the home of the museum, which just this last year earned the notable distinction of being placed on the National Registration for the American Daffodil Society. Shai is the daughter of Paul and the late Jill Griesse. Jill is noted for her vast Daffodil gardens, and for leadership on the national level as the chairperson for the Chicago and Columbus Conventions of the ADS. The Griesse Historic Garden at RHM, which features many of the special Daffodils moved from her mother’s garden, is a gem for Granville, Shai says. “And it’s open 365 days a year.”

Shai is quick to say she owes much of her love and commitment to gardening to her mother. “It was a chore to weed, water and help my mother maintain the garden when I was a kid, “ she remembers, “but as an adult when I planted my first bulbs and they grew and bloomed, I was so proud of myself for having done it on my own.”

That first small success turned into a lifetime of gardening and it is that love of planting, growing and blooming she hopes visitors to the Granville Daffodil Stroll will feel when they enter those backyard spaces of beauty and tranquility.

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Help Holly make this celebration of the gardens a resounding success! Support the RHM Garden Tour with your sponsorship at one of four levels:

 Daffodil $2,500

Your name and logo on the RHM donor wall and sponsor’s board, with six complimentary tickets to the party and tour.

 Bouquet $1,000

Your name and logo on the RHM donor wall and sponsor’s board, with four complimentary passes to the party and tour.

 Blossom $500

Your name and logo on the RHM donor wall and sponsor’s board, with two complimentary passes for the party and tour.

 Bulb $250

Your name and logo on the RHM donor wall and sponsor’s board, with 2 tickets for the tour.

 All gifts are IRS tax deductible and the Robbins Hunter Museum is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization. Make your donation with payment to RHM, PO Box 183, Granville, 43023 or click HERE to complete your donation online. All proceeds support the Jill Griesse Historic Garden.          

 

 

           

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RHM honors Gibson as 2018 Woman of Achievement

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RHM honors Gibson as 2018 Woman of Achievement

Flo Gibson.jpg

Flo Gibson

2018 Victoria Woodhull Woman of Achievement

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Book Cover and the Front Door

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Book Cover and the Front Door

Visitors astute to architecture and history sometimes ask questions that we can’t always answer as they tour our beautiful house museum. One such question reminded us that while we know a lot, we don’t always know it all. And in the process of tracking down answers, we learn something more about the wonder that is the Greek Revival Avery-Downer House, home to the Robbins Hunter Museum.

Doug Johnson, the archdiocese of Baltimore, toured the museum on his first visit to Granville not long ago. He noticed the design of the front door differed from the drawing of the door in the book The Modern Builder’s Guide by Minard Lafever, originally published in 1833.

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Why so, he asks? To answer his question, we turned to our expert, Architect Dr. William Heyer. Here’s what he said. “Because Minard Lafever was really only a consultant on the house for Mr. Avery and because Benjamin Morgan was in fact the designer/builder, it does not come to me as odd that some alternative design elements were used. This was common in the Grecian period. In fact, many of the design elements in the house were inspired by Lafever’s guidebooks and also Asher Benjamin’s guidebooks of the same date (1832-33). But they were really only a starting point and it is refreshing to see that Lafever trusted the local builders with whatever napkin sketches he provided for Mr. Avery in New York.”

Ann Lowder, director, adds “We had records noting the door itself was originally grain painted, a trompe-l’oeil, to resemble fine mahogany.” Delicate tracery of lotus vines above the door, restored to its original gold leaf, should be observed, she notes.

Above the front door of the Robbins Hunter Museum.

Above the front door of the Robbins Hunter Museum.

“The museum is grateful to Tom King, a Denison alumnus, who knew Robbins Hunter and donated his time and talent to restoring the finish to the door,” she adds.

Heyer also offers a broader perspective. “Much of the beauty of Ohio Grecian architecture resides in the inspired uses of Greek elements such as those of Mr. Morgan. That is why I—having moved here from New York—find the Grecian architecture of the “new” states after the revolution to be the most clever and original of the entire Grecian period. Look at Hamlin’s Greek Revival Architecture in America for other fun examples.”

An outstanding feature of the design of the house, perhaps another of those fun examples, is that it incorporates all three Greek column designs: Doric (found on the side porches), Ionic (found on the front porch), and the magnificent Corinthian columns that flank the front door.

Next time you step up to the front door, pause a minute and take a good look!

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Facilitating learning and laughter at RHM

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Facilitating learning and laughter at RHM

For the past nine years I have been a tour giver at Granville’s Avery-Downer House/Robbins Hunter Museum. Tour guides are known as “docents” and although I found the word rather archaic, it seemed acceptable. That is, until I recently came across an article that resonated with me, describing the power of giving oneself a job title that accurately reflects how one views what they do. I have therefore renamed my role. My new title is “facilitator of learning and laughter.” Less staid, more accurate and well, embraceable.

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But, I digress. Back to museums. I love museums. Museums are what I do. Historic house museums are at the top of my preferred list. And, I swoon over Greek Revival architecture. Not only does the movie-set town of Granville have a historic house museum, the house itself is one of the premier examples of domestic Greek Revival architect in the nation! I’m not kidding here.

And here’s the best part. If what I’ve described resonates with you—and if you live in Granville or the surrounding area—you could be one of the lucky ones who brings this incredible Greek Revival treasure to life. One who invites visitors to step into the past to experience the way a family lived. The museum embraces volunteers who enjoy enlightening an audience thru tour giving. But that’s not all. We welcome volunteers in multiple areas: our intimate apparel collection needs care, tours need greeters, seven breath-taking Christmas trees need all hands on deck, school children need facilitators, special events need hosts, seminars need an audience.

Rebecca Dungan and her collection of antique valentine cards at the Robbins Hunter Museum.

Rebecca Dungan and her collection of antique valentine cards at the Robbins Hunter Museum.

The 50’s tree in the Octagon room at the Robbins Hunter Museum.

The 50’s tree in the Octagon room at the Robbins Hunter Museum.

The next time you visit Granville, visit the Robbins Hunter Museum. I’ll give you a personal tour, one that is enlightening and participatory, one that will elicit the response “I didn’t know that!” And, if it gives you joy and the stars are aligned, you will become a part of this grand, significant place!

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From the Collection

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From the Collection

Mystery abounds at the Robbins Hunter Museum.  It seems that for every question we answer, three more arise.  This month’s question pertains to who really donated several pieces of a rare black and white transfer English pottery.

William Cullen Bryant wrote in 1830, ”There is in our scenery enough of the lovely, the majestic, the romantic, to entitle it to be ranked with that of any other country in the world….” And yet, he continued, “It would be easier to find a series of good scenes of China or Southern India than of the United States.”

Five years later, an English topographical artist, William Henry Bartlett, sailed for America with the express purpose of making “lively impression of actual sights.”  Between 1835 and 1852, he made four excursions to the US to draw the buildings, towns, and scenery of the northeastern states.  He was accompanied by on his first adventure by Nathaniel Parker Willis, an American journalist who wrote the text for the first comprehensive picture book of authentic American scenes.  That book was American Scenery, or Land, Lake, and River Illustrations of Trans Atlantic Nature.  The book was published by George Virtue, who employed Bartlett as an artist, author, and editor for two decades.  It was quickly translated and published in French and German editions.

W. H. Bartlett self portrait 1836

W. H. Bartlett self portrait 1836

This book, along with its companion Canadian Scenery, remain our best picture books of the landscape scene of America almost two hundred years ago.  Bartlett made his images directly from nature and reproduced each with almost photographic accuracy.

These drawings were not only reproduced on paper. The potters of England promptly seized on the opportunity to decorate their wares with views of the Hudson River and drawings of buildings and towns.  Some of the potteries to produce such wares include J. Ridgway; William Ridgway; William Ridgway & Son; Thomas Godwin; Charles Meigh; and Mellor, Venables & Co.

In 1984, the Robbins Hunter Museum received a generous donation of several pieces decorated with black and white transfer patterns including “Columbia Bridge on the Susquehanna,” “Undercliff near Cold Spring,” and “View from Ruggles House, Newburgh, Hudson River.”

 
“Columbia Bridge on the Susquehanna” on a platter.

“Columbia Bridge on the Susquehanna” on a platter.

“Undercliff near Cold Spring” on a chocolate pot.

“Undercliff near Cold Spring” on a chocolate pot.

 
“View from Ruggles House, Newburgh, Hudson River” on a teapot.

“View from Ruggles House, Newburgh, Hudson River” on a teapot.

We are delighted to hold these exquisite early picturesque renderings on china in our collection.  Our records are incomplete in that the donor is only identified as “Mavis”  with a donation date of May 19, 1984.  If any of our readers might know who this  Mavis is, please contact annlowder@robbinshunter.org.   

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Mary Frances Berry leads first 2019 Roundtable   

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Mary Frances Berry leads first 2019 Roundtable  

Noted activist for civil rights, gender equality and social justice, Mary Frances Berry, kicks off the first 2019 Victoria Woodhull: Phoenix Rising Roundtables on Monday, Jan. 28.

Three roundtables next year focus on women advocates, with focus on humanitarian advocacy in April and child advocacy in September.

January’s program is offered in collaboration with Denison University. The location of the roundtable on the college campus will be forthcoming.

The three-year series began in 2018 with roundtables focusing on the Voices of Women. Attendance was high at all three, paving the way for successful 2019 events. The Robbins Hunter Museum sponsors these events in partnership with Denison University.

Berry’s work as an activist is commendable. Serving as Chairperson of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Berry demanded equal rights and liberties for all Americans during four Presidential administrations. A pathbreaker, she also became the first woman to head a major research university, serving at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Berry also served as the principal education official in the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, working to improve access and quality education in our schools.

In 2013, she was one of the recipients of the Nelson Mandela award from the South African Government for her work in organizing the Free South Africa Movement (FSAM) which helped to end apartheid. Berry was selected to speak by the South African Government representing FSAM at the national celebration of the life legacy and values of Mandela at the Washington National Cathedral in December, 2013.

As Berry continues her research, writing and activism, she insists that each generation has the responsibility to make a dent in the wall of injustice.

Berry exemplifies the leadership of early activist Victoria Woodhull, whose life passions were driven by the unshakeable desire to bring about equality for all. Her remarkable life and resulting consequences became the basis for the three-year series of roundtables designed to further discussions about causes and reforms that she thought important and that continue to be relevant today.

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Gibson honored as 2018 Woman of Achievement Recipient

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Gibson honored as 2018 Woman of Achievement Recipient

Each year since its inception in 2011, Robbins Hunter Museum has recognized a local woman for achievement in her field of endeavor. For 2018, Florence R. Gibson, “Flo”, has been named the recipient of The Victoria Woodhull Woman of Achievement award.

Flo will be honored at a luncheon and ceremony on February 14, 2019, at the museum. A brick with her name, her area of achievement, and the year of presentation will be installed in the clock tower walkway at the museum.

Locally, Flo is widely known for her gardening expertise, but it is her care for women at risk that places her in a position of esteem. In the many years she tended at least 16 gardens scattered on her Alexandria, Ohio, farm, her gardening efforts often turned into the regular and anticipated Flo’s Garden Party, a fund raiser to support Action Ohio Coalition for Battered Women and the local Center for New Beginnings, a battered women’s shelter in Newark, which she founded.

It is the founding and operation of Center for New Beginnings that, in particular, earns our respect and admiration for her accomplishments. As reported in the Newark Advocate in 2015, Flo realized that Licking County needed to do more to help women in need of protection.

“So she teamed up with a group of women and a few attorneys to start a shelter for women affected by domestic violence. They didn’t have any money, and at one point considered renting out a storefront downtown and setting up some cots. Eventually, the team was able to get a grant to open a formal shelter and it took off from there,” the article reported.

“Flo’s work with the Center for New Beginnings and Action Ohio certainly has made a huge impact on the lives of so many women and their families in Licking County and beyond,” says Ann Lowder, director of the Robbins Hunter Museum.

           

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This wonderful season of madness

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This wonderful season of madness

To visitors during the holiday season, it may seem like there is a decorated Christmas tree in every corner of the house museum. Meticulously decorated trees everywhere! But to the curators, each tree is representative and essential to Robbins Hunter Museum theory, practice and mission. In other words, there is method behind the “Christmas tree madness” at RHM.

The mission of the holidays here is to interpret the life and times of the occupants of the house, says Dr. Rebecca Dungan, former program director and board member who continues to love doing Christmas at the museum.

Two mission-driven trees in particular, the 1950s tree in the Octagon Room and the 1870s tree in the Parlor stay essentially the same each year, Dungan says. “They are purposefully designed to further our tour goal for visitors to ‘step into the past to experience the way a family lived.”

The Octagon Room tree interprets the life and times of Robbins Hunter after the war and is also a tree for learning the effects of World War II on the American Christmas tree. The Parlor Room tree is an interpretation of the way families celebrated Christmas in the 1870s and offers an opportunity to gain insights into the custom of the times, she added.

“Putting up these trees each year is the equivalent of our practice of putting netting over the mirrors, slipcovers on the furniture, and a croquet set in the ladies parlor in the summer months,” she said.

Then there are trees that are exhibits and they will change over time. The Suffragette tree and the World War I tree this year are designed to inform and, in these cases, honor. The Suffragette Tree that sits in the Ladies’ Parlor,  speaks to one of the interpretive themes of the parlor, that “women made a difference.” The WWI tree commemorates the 100th anniversary of the end of the war and the sacrifices of Licking Countians. On the tree are the names of the 82 Licking County men who died from disease or on the battle field, she said. A smaller tree honors the Denison men who did not return. “These trees offer a moving participatory experience for our visitors,” Dungan said.

Another tree with programming potential is the dried botanical tree. “This tree is unique in that we are just beginning to recognize its potential to further our mission by bringing the gardens into the house,” she said. Programming is possible, for example, when we explore how to properly dry flowers and choose which varieties are best for this purpose. And best of all, she says, when we experience how to connect the interior and exterior by using the museum’s garden botanicals on this tree, thus also placing it in the category of exhibit trees.

The Beaded Styrofoam Ornament tree is also an exhibit, representing America’s fascination with the elegance and perceived sophistication and glamor of the 1960s. “Housewives created millions of these ornaments to bring elegance into their homes, Dungan said. “Visitors enjoy and identify with this tree,” she added.

All aspects of house decoration during the holiday season is mission and goal driven, Dungan maintains, and a result of careful consideration of how best to immerse visitors in the tour experience.

“The intense research and the hours spent to insure the accuracy and beauty of these trees are a source of pride, a notable example of best practice and the careful work of interested volunteers.”

Yes, this wonderful madness is real!

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A souvenir for your collection

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A souvenir for your collection

We are excited to offer for the first time, a keepsake ornament that depicts the Avery-Downer House, home to Robbins Hunter Museum. As captured by Gary Chisolm in the photo to the left, it is crafted in brass and features the house with its fine details etched in the metal. It is framed with a Greek key motif representing the iron fence fronting the Jill Griesse Historic Garden. 

Hand crafted in heart of America, the house is the first in a collection celebrating the museums extraordinary architectural features. Proceeds from sales of the ornament benefit the programs at the Robbins Hunter Museum.

The ornament comes packaged with a brief history of the house. These make an excellent corporate gift or addition to your personal collection of Granville related memorabilia. They are offered for sale in Just Write, adjacent to the museum. Or click HERE to purchase online.

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Don't miss this!

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Don't miss this!

If you’ve ever been awed by the four massive columns supporting the roof over the front porch of the 1842 Avery Downer House, an exhibit at The Works in Newark might interest you.

For there, as part of a celebration of Licking County’s rich architectural history, a piece of one of the original columns is on display.

“Purpose. Pride. Style, Our Living Art,” Blueprints from Licking County’s Architectural History, runs now through the end of the year in the main gallery at The Works in downtown Newark, Ohio. For more information about visiting the exhibit, click HERE.

The exhibition features nine celebrated local architects and their incredible vision and talents that gifted the county with a sense of purpose, pride, and style. The column piece is part of the rare architecture artifacts on display.

The remnant of the original Greek Revival column is fashioned from a single walnut tree. When discovered, it retained the original gray paint that led to the repainting of the house to what is believed to be its original color, says Ann Lowder, director of the Robbins Hunter Museum.

“Another section is in the study collection at the School of Classical Architecture at Notre Dame University,” she added.

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From the Director

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From the Director

An Investment in the Village of Granville

 Because of our generous friends and donors like you, the Robbins Hunter Museum has been able to build a welcoming, entertaining, and educational experience for visitors and residents to the Village of Granville. 

·       “Phoenix Rising,” a series of three exciting round tables presented in partnership with Denison University, was the highlight of the 2018 season.  Beginning in February, experts from around the nation gathered for civil discourse regarding issues that Victoria Woodhull dared to voice in the 19th century and that continue to be relevant today.

·       Looking ahead, discussions will build on the events of 2018 and broaden into national level speakers, reaching a crescendo in 2020.  Your support will ensure lively discussion with well-known experts, beginning with Mary Frances Berry on January 28, 2019.

·       Victoria Woodhull, Continue the Legacy: Join the Conversation,  promotes the Phoenix Rising roundtables as well as women’s disenfranchisement  and features a replica dress and famous quotations by and about Woodhull.

·       Our current exhibit, “Ordinary & Extraordinary,” would have raised eyebrows in earlier times as it features “unmentionables,” underwear worn by 19th century Granville ladies.  The exhibit ties in beautifully with the new Woodhull exhibit by illustrating some of the disadvantages women faced in their expected daily wardrobe. Curated by Elizabeth Miller, Parsons School of Design, the well-researched exhibit includes letters and other primary documents.  It will remain through December, 2019.

·       A new website www.woodhullandclaflin.org features primary resources for students and scholars to learn first hand the facts of Woodhull’s life.

·       Visitors refresh and reflect in the Jill Griesse Historic Garden, now an official American Daffodil Society display garden.  Coming on April 27:  Granville Garden Tour featuring Spring gardens.

As we look ahead to our 38th season, we anticipate an exciting future that will include programs for school children as well as their parents and grandparents.  With your help, the Robbins Hunter Museum and  Jill Griesse Historic Garden will continue to be a vibrant part of the Heart of the Village. 

Stop in to see us Wednesday-Saturday from 1-4PM.  We will be open through December 28.

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Kappa Sig member returns to Avery-Downer House

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Kappa Sig member returns to Avery-Downer House

We always say if the walls could talk, what stories they would tell. 

Whispers of the past slip out when walls are opened up to reveal a glass, a bottle, a wadded  up newspaper, or a scrap of fabric. Joined with artifacts --- letters, diaries, photographs --- these clues stitch together stories and stories make history.

And then sometimes, someone comes along to speak first hand and give testament to that history.

A few weeks ago, 88-year-old Irvin Harlamert and his wife, Barbara, walked through the front door of the Avery-Downer House, nearly 70 years after Irvin lived there as a fraternity brother when the house was owned by Denison University’s Kappa Sigma Fraternity.

Top photo: Don Bren, Zeke Ellis and Irvin Harlamert pose in their athletic sweaters with their graduation year, 1952. Bottom photo: Harlamert, Zeke and Don. --- photo courtesy of Harlamert

Top photo: Don Bren, Zeke Ellis and Irvin Harlamert pose in their athletic sweaters with their graduation year, 1952. Bottom photo: Harlamert, Zeke and Don. --- photo courtesy of Harlamert

These were the years when fraternities owned houses in town, scattered here and there. “Students were living all over the Village, in fraternity houses and in rented rooms,” Harlamert said. “I lived in a room in a house on Elm and Pearl for a while before moving into the fraternity house.”

Kappa Sigma bought the house from Phi Gamma Delta, another Denison fraternity in 1930, for $6,000. The Phi Gammas owned the house for 27 years. The Kappa Sigs were proud of the house and their tenure there. “We were aware of the history of the house and tried to maintain it responsibly,” he said, “but I’m certainly more aware now.”  They were also proud of their country. Harlamert was among those fraternity members to enlist in the military when Korean War broke out. He served in a fighter squadron for the Navy for five years.

“When the fraternity bought the house, they hired an interior decorator to bring the furnishings up to the latest style.  They hired an architect to construct a “Chapter Room” below grade and enlarged the dining room over that area to make what we call the Long Room,” said Ann Lowder, director. This room became the fraternity’s dining room.

An exhibit of the Kappa Sig years at RHM shows photographs of fraternity members scrubbing and painting to maintain the house under their care. Shortly after renovations were completed, the house was voted the most beautiful fraternity house in America and published in the national fraternal magazine in the 1930’s.

Harlamert also carved out fond personal memories of his time at the Kappa Sigma House and they spilled out to Lowder, who encountered Irvin and his wife and took them on a tour. “The gift shop room was our dorm and we all slept there every night,” he said as they peered into the room originally built as a woodshed. Long ago completely restored, the space has been home to several shops and  is currently leased to the Just Write stationery shop.

“There could be 30 of us at any one time sleeping in bunk beds,” he said.  “We also had rooms in the house with our clothes and desk and I shared a room upstairs with three other guys.”

“The kitchen was ancient,” he remembers. “But Mrs. Philbrook managed to do all the cooking, three meals a day and all the shopping for the 45 – 50 of us who ate there in the dining room.”

Kappa Sigma owned the house until 1956 when Denison called all fraternities to campus. The Kappa Sigs and other fraternities built houses to create fraternity row. 

During the time Harlamert lived in the Avery- Downer House as a fraternity brother, the house sported a second floor porch. “Some of us would sleep out there in all sorts of weather, rain, snow, noise,” he said. “We didn’t care. It was fun.”

A large Christmas wreath mounted on what was once the second story porch was the brainchild of Harlamert to send holiday greetings to the community. His wife, Barbara, later depicted it in a painting. --- photo courtesy of Harlamert

A large Christmas wreath mounted on what was once the second story porch was the brainchild of Harlamert to send holiday greetings to the community. His wife, Barbara, later depicted it in a painting. --- photo courtesy of Harlamert

One day, Irvin decided to reach out to the community from that porch. He oversaw the construction and installation of a two-story Christmas wreath, which his wife, an oil on canvas artist, later depicted. “I’d like to see the museum do that wreath again,” he said wistfully. Irvin met his wife, Barbara, also a Denison graduate, at the house when she was dating a fellow fraternity brother. They didn’t date then, he said, but they later reunited and married just six years ago.           

While the porch brought pleasure to the Kappa Sigs, historical record shows the porch was not original to the house, but added later, around 1870.  It was removed about 20 years ago, Lowder said, as its condition deteriorated.           

After his graduation from Denison in 1952 and law school at Ohio State in 1955, Irvin spent a career in law as a judge for the Oakwood Municipal Court in Dayton He was appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court to serve as bar examiner to test the legal knowledge of incoming law school graduates. He also served as Special Council to the Ohio Attorney General.  He founded a real estate investment business in 1959 with 30 partners that he continues to oversee today.           

As he strolled around the house, he saw the beauty and permanence of its presence. “We took reasonably good care of it in our days, but our fraternity abused the house some I suppose.” Time has brought perspective though, and appreciation.  Irvin says he’ll be back.

 

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Volunteers on the move

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Volunteers on the move

A group of RHM volunteers traveled together to the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio in Lancaster on June 19 and in return, those at the DACO visited our museum on July 9 to both learn about each other’s passions and to foster mutual relations.  Each year the RHM board sponsors a trip for volunteers, including lunch, said Ann Lowder, director. In the recent past, volunteers have toured Zoar village, Dawes Arboretum and enjoyed tea at the Kelton House in Columbus.  “It’s a great way to show our appreciation for all that they give and to inspire them with the importance of a well-versed docent,” she added.  Shown here from left, Dorothy Garrett, Sharon Bafford, Suzanne Kennedy, Teri Niedermeyer, Rebecca Dungan, Tracey Fleitz, Director Ann Lowder, and Cheryl Moore.

A group of RHM volunteers traveled together to the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio in Lancaster on June 19 and in return, those at the DACO visited our museum on July 9 to both learn about each other’s passions and to foster mutual relations.

Each year the RHM board sponsors a trip for volunteers, including lunch, said Ann Lowder, director. In the recent past, volunteers have toured Zoar village, Dawes Arboretum and enjoyed tea at the Kelton House in Columbus.

“It’s a great way to show our appreciation for all that they give and to inspire them with the importance of a well-versed docent,” she added.

Shown here from left, Dorothy Garrett, Sharon Bafford, Suzanne Kennedy, Teri Niedermeyer, Rebecca Dungan, Tracey Fleitz, Director Ann Lowder, and Cheryl Moore.

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