From My Desk...

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From My Desk...

Looking back…

2016 was a record breaking year for the Robbins Hunter Museum in many respects:

·         We dedicated the Dale and Tina Knobel Folly, a major capital project.

·         The Candlelight Walk brought more than 4,500 visitors.

·         For the first time, we kept the doors open during the last week of December allowing many more visitors to enjoy the magnificent tree exhibition.

Be sure to read the full report in this issue of how 2016 rolled to a close. The results are fascinating!

 

Looking forward…

After closing for the season on December 30, we have been scurrying around preparing for an even more memorable year. 2017 marks the 175th anniversary of the completion of the Avery-Downer House.  We will be celebrating with some spectacular newsletter features beginning in this issue, special events, and exhibits.  You will not want to miss these:

·         Opening exhibit will be The Mark Twain Nobody Knows: Reading between the Lines, with a curator talk by Dr. Thomas Wortham on April 6 and a book discussion of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on May 3.

·         The addition of “Treasures of the Collection” is a not-to-be-missed exhibition on the second floor, open all season.

·         Granville Garden Day, June 17, will open five private gardens for tours, a Garden Club of America sanctioned flower show in the museum, and a vendor fair in the Jill Griesse Gardens.

·         An art show is in the planning stages for October 7 to coincide with Big Red Weekend at Denison.

·         Once again in October the students at Welsh Hill School will create an invasion of scarecrows, all characters from Mark Twain stories this year.

·         And Christmas will be as festive as ever with the twinkling lights and display of trees.

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Temples in the hinterland

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Temples in the hinterland

Editor’s Note: This article is the first of three articles on the Avery-Downer House and its architecture in this 175th anniversary of the building.  Bill Heyer is a classical architect from Columbus who has long been actively involved at the Robbins Hunter Museum. As a member of the Board in the early 2000's, he created measured drawings of the interior and exterior of the building and researched appropriate finishes. More recently, he designed the Knobel Folly, an appropriate addition to the Jill Griesse garden.  On May 5, he will lead a walking tour of downtown Granville with emphasis on Avery-Downer House and St. Luke's Church.

 

Why did Alfred Avery build a Greek temple for a house? Granville had a tradition of building classical wood clapboard, brick and stone houses dating back to before its founding as a village, but none of these was such a temple! It is really kind of shocking, come to think of it, that the hinterland of the young United States would come to be dotted in the 1840’s with Greek temples that farmers, bankers, millers, and entrepreneurs would live in!

The notion that a young family would live in a Greek temple in America is quite reasonable and beautiful, actually. These young Americans in the first half of the 19th century prided themselves on their new democratic republic—a form of self-government that had its origins in ancient Greece. These young Americans also believed in individual rights quite apart from any monarchy, aristocracy, or other system of oppressive government. Hence, man was a special creature, endowed by the Creator with rights and value above and beyond royalty.

In a way, a farmer living in a Greek temple on his fertile and utopian property in Ohio or upstate New York was a symbol of the integrity, autonomy, economy, and sacred value of the human person. Wow, yes, even farmers knew they had as much value—if not more—as human beings than the monarchs of old England or France. They wished to celebrate it in their lives and especially their homes.

For the 20 years before Avery built his temple, there actually was a so-called classical revival in Ohio wherein temples—albeit somewhat clumsy and delicate—were indeed built as houses. Travel to Norwalk and see the 1835 Sturgis-Kennan-Fulstow House with its odd elongated octagonal piers, or in Cincinnati visit the 1820 Sinton-Taft house (Taft Museum) with its elongated columns spread like curtains in pairs. Jonathan Goldsmith in Cleveland had built several of these temple houses also, but this style was fairly uncommon.

In the 1820’s and 1830’s, thanks to the recent rediscovery of Greece and the publication of its ancient temples, Greek temple houses became all the rage in places like upstate New York; from Randolph near Chautauqua to Geneva in the Finger Lakes Region (see the fantastic Rose Hill Mansion), to Syracuse, Troy, and on to Albany and into New England. It was popular also in eastern Pennsylvania (see the great Andalusia estate near Philadelphia) and around the Mid-Atlantic and into the South. Greek temples began to be seen in Columbus with designs of the Alfred Kelley House (1836), the State Capitol (1839), and the Columbus Lunatic Asylum (1838), all of which Alfred Avery would have been familiar with through his travels and business ventures.

Alfred Avery began his entrepreneurial career in Granville as a drover taking livestock to eastern markets like his future business partner and brother-in-law Lucius Mower. On their travels, they would have seen some of the stately Greek Revival mansions being built and possibly had come in contact with other businessmen who were commissioning their own temple houses. Further, they quite possibly would have been introduced to the architectural pattern books of Asher Benjamin, John Haviland and others that were widely disseminated in the early 19th century. From all accounts, the tradition of grand domestic architecture was something any young aspiring entrepreneur like Avery would have been interested in at this time.

Later, Avery, in business partnership with Lucius Mower and others, established a furnace works, a grist mill, and a near majority contract in the new 1827 canal system that extended from Cleveland to Newark. And, although at this time he had been living in two other houses on Broadway, it was this canal venture that quite possibly fixed Avery’s goal for building not just a grand Grecian house, but a temple house on East Broadway.

Avery came to acquire the double lot at 221 E. Broadway about 1837, about the same time he helped organize and complete a building campaign for his own church, St. Luke’s Episcopal. Avery would have been instrumental in the selection of architect Minard Lafever and craftsman Benjamin Morgan to guide the congregation through the design and building process, the result of which was an outstanding example of ecclesiastical Grecian architecture. Avery subsequently hired Morgan to design and build his own home, introducing Granville to the new Grecian temple house. Benjamin Morgan, for all that is known, had not built a temple house before although he was familiar with Lafever’s temple house designs from pattern books. Lafever himself—although there is no evidence for this—may have communicated with Avery and/or Morgan about the design of the house as he had for St Luke’s.

But, wait. There is something missing here! How did Avery find and select Lafever and Morgan in the first place? What was the connection that put these men together for the building of arguably the two most important architectural landmarks in the village of Granville? This is where the canal venture just may have played a decisive role in bringing Alfred Avery, Minard Lafever, and Benajmin Morgan together.

To be continued!

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Huck Finn Opens 2017 Season

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Huck Finn Opens 2017 Season

“It's lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky, up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made, or only just happened- Jim he allowed they was made, but I allowed they happened; I judged it would have took too long to make so many.” Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

 

            The 2017 season at the Robbins Hunter Museum opens April 5 with an exhibit and programs on Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. The story of a precocious red headed boy who floated down the Mississippi River commenting on life as he saw and lived it has taken on timeless legend since its publication in 1884. And that legend has taken extraordinary turns over the years since.

RHM board member and professor emeritus at UCLA Tom Wortham, will open the 2017 season with his personal collection of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn memorabilia.

RHM board member and professor emeritus at UCLA Tom Wortham, will open the 2017 season with his personal collection of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn memorabilia.

Tom Wortham, local resident, RHM board member, and emeritus professor of English at UCLA, presents The Mark Twain Nobody Knows: Reading Between the Lines, April 5 thru September 9. An exhibit of memorabilia will be in the Robbins Hunter room, and Wortham will deliver an opening lecture on Thursday, April 6, with a full discussion of the book on Wednesday, May 3. Both programs are free to members, $10 to non-members and for both programs, $15. Register online for either or both of these programs.

Selections from Wortham’s personal collection of memorabilia will be on display. The story of Twain’s river boy reached mythological status and controversial heights in the decades following the book’s publication. That notoriety, and with the help of Twain who knew a thing or two about creating buzz, led to a sustained and often heated level of commercialization that Wortham says has unfortunately – if not unintentionally – clouded the literary merit of the book. Inside the folksy vernacular of Twain’s storytelling lies serious commentary on the social and political issues of the time, Wortham says.

“We need to back off the Disney image,” he adds, “and realize how sophisticated the book really is for its time. This is not a kid’s book. I want to make people set aside the commercial images and read the book as serious literature. This is fantastic prose.”

And the Disney image, as Wortham dubs it, is enormous, even outrageous. A pudgy overstuffed Huck sits on a shelf as a Cabbage Patch collectible doll, or as red headed freckled statuettes of all sizes and interpretations. Jim, the wise mild-mannered black slave in the story, even shows up as a white boy on a poster. (no kidding!)  And finally, Twain, always dressed in white, poses as a solemn faced gentleman. These make up just a sampling of the hundreds of likenesses and often wild interpretations that fill the third story of Wortham’s Buckeye Lake home. Those depictions, in addition to boxes upon boxes of printed materials, make up a collection that Wortham says exceeds a thousand pieces.

Mark Twain and Huck Finn in just one of many representations since Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published in 1864.

Mark Twain and Huck Finn in just one of many representations since Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published in 1864.

Wortham has a personal interest and a respected academic reputation regarding Mark Twain. His talk on April 6 is one he has shared before, most aptly perhaps on the American Queen riverboat as it chugged along the waters of the wide Mississippi as Huck would have on his raft. Wortham will explain how the commercialization of a red headed, freckled kid and his black traveling companion clouded the deeper and more socially troublesome political issues of the day, to note, slavery. Twain’s liberal and unapologetic use of the “N” word has prompted argument, banning, or defending by schools and libraries over the decades, which added substantially to its enduring commercialization. The story of Huck Finn certainly has not receded into history.

The second program on May 3 is a discussion of the book with those who attend. Wortham will invite all who would like to read the book again, or for the first time, to join him to talk about the story and discover its layers of social and political commentary.

“I want people to read the book on its own terms without modifications,” he concludes.


Robbins Hunter Museum

April 5 – October 31, 2017

The Mark Twain Nobody Knows:

Reading Between the Lines

In four parts -

Part I – Mark Twain, Inc. The commercialization of Twain.

Part II – The Innocent at Large: Huck Finn as a book about boys, not a boy’s book.

Part III – Huckleberry Finn: “Only a Language Experiment.”

Part IV – Dark Twain: The late pessimistic Mark Twain.

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How Our Garden Grows

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How Our Garden Grows

This spring, the Jill Griesse Historic Garden project begins the third phase of our comprehensive renovation of the Museum grounds and gardens.

James Sayre and Brendan Kennedy, employees of Eagle Machine and Welding, set the gate post for the new fence.

James Sayre and Brendan Kennedy, employees of Eagle Machine and Welding, set the gate post for the new fence.

We are already off to a great head start for our third year of garden renovations and are proud to announce the recent completion of the elegant reproduction period fence and entrance gate across the entire sidewalk front of the Museum. Graciously funded by the Granville Community Foundation, the black powder-coated aluminum fence features a historic Greek key motif. This gift from the foundation is a handsome addition to the Museum grounds and to downtown Granville.

When summer arrives, we will turn our attentions to the Ladies' Garden where you will see us re-position the steps into the garden slightly to the south to align with the bronze statue located on the opposite wall. The center bed will be converted to crushed stone allowing for a handsome gathering spot for public or private meetings, lunches, and talks. The Granville Garden Club, who will oversee this project, has plans for a pair of clematis for a new arbor as well as other new and refreshed plantings.

The gate is finished. Powder coating on the fence is being completed and installation will follow.

The gate is finished. Powder coating on the fence is being completed and installation will follow.

In the summer of 2015, the first year of the project, we executed the first phase of landscape designer Laura Burchfield's master plan for the garden, installing plant material in fashion and in use during the mid nineteenth century when the house was occupied by the Avery’s and the Downers.  Five thousand daffodil bulbs, many from the original garden of namesake Jill Griesse, will be in bloom soon, flowering and multiplying each and every spring.

The second year of garden renovation, 2016, saw the completion of the Dale and Tina Knobel Garden Folly, our intimate Greek revival outdoor performance pavilion. The Folly was designed to ingeniously contain secure storage for tables and chairs used for outdoor public or private functions on the grounds. The Folly also provides an area for the Granville Garden Club to use in their ongoing maintenance of the Museum grounds.  But more than that, the Folly now becomes the focal point of the garden and is available as a venue for performances, celebrations, and weddings in the years to come.

Also in year two, new planting beds were designed and created east and west of the Folly. Of particular note in the new beds is a handsome pair of Thornless Hawthorne trees. The master plan also called for a six-foot high cedar fence to the east and south of the Folly, and this fence now accents the Folly and its new attendant plantings in a most sublime way.

Now is the time to contact the Museum to book our grounds for your family reunion or life celebrations. Please take advantage of our handsome landscaped grounds. To have a wedding at the new Folly would be magical!

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2016: A Remarkable Year at RHM

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2016: A Remarkable Year at RHM

            As we look back on the year 2016, it was remarkable in a number of ways. The nascent garden grew and bloomed, the newly constructed folly was dedicated in the 35th anniversary year of the museum, and visitors flocked to programs and events both inside the walls of the Avery Downer House and outside on its lawns.

If you were around, simple observation signaled resounding success, but when Rebecca Dungan, program chair, tracked attendance and participation, her findings underscore how affirming the year was indeed.

Tallied numbers and noted comments for participation and attendance in programs that brought the year to a rousing close tell a satisfying story. We share them here.

 

Let’s begin with 100 Years of Halloween, Part II (October 1-November 2). At the end of October, Dungan analyzed 180 visitors.

Where were our visitors from?

20% Granville, 20% Columbus

55% were from other cities in Ohio 5% other states

How did you learn of the exhibition? Most often listed: Sign on the side entrance railing.  Someone told me. Other: newspaper, social media, website.

Comments about the exhibition One visitor’s comments sums up all of them: “loved the tour, enjoyed the stories, learned the history”.

 

For A Glorious Christmas (November 9-December 30), 212 persons were tallied.

Where they were from: Columbus (12%) Lancaster (7%) Granville (6%) (as contrasted to The Halloween exhibit when Granville and Columbus were equally represented).

Information source: The most mentioned source of information was Someone told me (24%). An astounding 22% listed Country Living Magazine as their source of information. Country Living Magazine is the official publication of Ohio Electric Cooperatives, reaching nearly 300,000 members in Ohio and West Virginia. A large image of one of our trees was included with the information.

Positive comments ranged from ‘our guide was “fantastic/ knowledgeable/awesome/ wonderful” to expressions of gratitude for the beautiful trees and for learning the history of the house.

Visitors came from all over Ohio: 167 persons came from 36 Ohio towns. Not surprisingly, most represented was central Ohio. In addition to Columbus, Lancaster and Granville:  Pickerington 6%, Newark 5% and Westerville 5%. These six towns alone brought 41% of our visitors.

Most mentioned sources of information in order of response for A Glorious Christmas: “Someone told me”, Country Living Magazine, social media (including web site) passing by/sign, newspaper. (Interestingly, Columbus Underground was mentioned by two groups of visitors.)

A young boy admires the tree in the main parlor of the Robbins Hunter Museum during a Night Before Christmas event.

A young boy admires the tree in the main parlor of the Robbins Hunter Museum during a Night Before Christmas event.

(Three) Nights Before Christmas Evening Tours(December 8, December 15, December 22)

Participants exclaimed over the beauty of the house by candlelight, entertained one another, learned about the trees, embraced the room related Christmas quiz questions and enjoyed homemade cookies.

The greatest benefit to events and programs, perhaps, is the friend making we do at the Robbins Hunter Museum. This was especially true with the Nights’ Before Christmas tours. Thanks to Country Living, The Columbus Dispatch, and our web site, numerous visitors from out of town (notably Lancaster) participated.  Participants became friends, one became a volunteer, and people hung around at the end of the evening. It’s difficult to say who enjoyed it more, those of us who were hostesses and event directors or our visitors.

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From the collection...

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From the collection...

“Woove at Newark Ohio 1840”

One of Robbins Hunter’s prize possessions was only one-half of an original object.  It was half of a red, white and blue jacquard coverlet with a corner block reading “Woove (sic) at Newark Ohio 1840.”  Hunter was an avid collector of early Ohio and especially anything from Licking County.  After all, his gravestone reads “I loved Licking County.”

This type of coverlet is named for Joseph Marie Jacquard, a Frenchman who invented the loom on which it was possible to weave these intricate designs.  The loom used a “punch card” and today many refer to his loom as the first computer.

The field of the coverlet is an overall floral design.  The border depicts city buildings including a church, a courthouse, and houses.  This bed cover would have originally consisted of two pieces, each about 40 inches wide, which were sewn together to make the cover wide enough to fit a bed.  Corner blocks on the bottom right and left display the historical inscription. As time moved on and the coverlets were replaced in style with quilts and eventually chenille bedspreads, the old jacquards with their history marking corner blocks became family heirlooms.  In many families, the coverlet was taken apart with one half given to one heir and the other half to a different heir.  So Hunter was not surprised that he only was able to purchase one half.

Then the unexpected happened.  One day a letter arrived in the mail from San Jose, California.  The writer enclosed a photo of one half of a coverlet, with the corner block “Woove at Newark Ohio 1840.”  Knowing that Hunter was an antique dealer, she wondered if he would be interested in purchasing her half.  Imagine his great delight, even amazement! 

Today, you may visit the museum’s “Treasures of the Collection” exhibit and see first hand, this miracle of miracles.

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From My Desk...

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From My Desk...

Fall has been as colorful at the Robbins Hunter Museum as the glorious display of autumn color was on Village trees and the surrounding countryside. Giant spiders and pumpkins invited visitors inside to see the incredible collection of Halloween ephemera belonging to George and Jeanne Johnson of Logan, Ohio.

Vintage Halloween costumes and jack-0-lanterns attracted record crowds at the museum during October.

Vintage Halloween costumes and jack-0-lanterns attracted record crowds at the museum during October.

  Mid-month, sixteen scarecrows invaded the garden, each made by a student at Welsh Hills School depicting a president or first lady. In addition to Halloween, Victoria Woodhull is prompting much interest as we get closer to election day.  Talks by Jeff Gill and Sarah Wallace, the 2016 Victoria Woodhull Woman of Achievement recipient, drew enthusiastic crowds.  A full page article in USA Today about Woodhull was reprinted on the front page of the Newark Advocate.  One man came to see the exhibit with his copy of USA Today in hand!

Between now and the end of the year, focus will shift to the exhibit, Glorious Christmas.  Thousands of white lights will illuminate the house and this year we will add lights to the Knobel Folly.  Our members are invited to view the bedecked mansion at our annual Christmas Gala on November 12.  Gingerbread Houses as well as Santa and Mrs. Claus will be featured at the Candlelight Walking Tour on December 3.  This year for the first time, we will be open on Thursday evenings in December for “Nights Before Christmas,” an intimate evening in the candlelit house, by reservation.  We have also added open hours for the last week in December.

In January, the Board of Trustees will hold a full-day retreat to examine our strategic plan, scheduled for completion next year.  The coming year will also mark the announced completion of the Jill Griesse Historic Garden as well as the 175th anniversary of the Avery-Downer House.  So we look forward to another year with many possibilities for celebration, with plans for exciting, enlightening, educational events.  

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The Glorious Holiday

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The Glorious Holiday

When we think of “glorious” we might conjure images of amazing sights we’ve seen in our lives. We might use accolades to describe them as “magnificent,” “delightful,” “wonderful,” and even “illustrious.”  But when we say, “Glorious Christmas,” we know we mean Christmas at the Robbins Hunter Museum.

This memorable season at the museum officially opens on Saturday, Nov. 12 for the annual Member Preview and then to the general public through the end of the year. Extended museum hours for the first time will find the house open longer, closing only December 24, 25 and 31.

 Special evening events for the first time this year, Nights Before Christmas, are scheduled for Dec. 8, 15, 22, and 29 where special tours and refreshments offer the personal touch. Cost is $5 and the first Night Before Christmas is already sold out.

Indeed, Christmas at RHM has become an art form, sketched over time through decorated trees, mantles, lights, and the stories told of past times and customs by holiday aficionados who volunteer time, talent, and material.  In the life of the museum at Christmas time, few are more devoted to the art than Jean Jankowski.

Jean Jankowski puts the finishing touches on the WWI tree.

Jean Jankowski puts the finishing touches on the WWI tree.

Jean brought her fervent love for theme-based Christmas trees to the 1800s house museum some five years ago and she and others have nurtured it from there.

This year with the help of a cadre of volunteers, seven theme trees, each sitting in one of the museum’s lovely rooms, will tell their stories . A suffragette tree, for example, will stand tall in the Ladies Parlor and speak through photos and inspiring quotations, punctuated with sunflowers, the emblematic symbol of the woman suffrage army, bright yellow flowers that turn their face to the light and righteousness.

Another tree, playful with push pin ornaments, will greet visitors in the Long room. A 1950’s tree tells the story of a past generation in the beautiful Octagon Room, delighting visitors with its bubble lights and shimmery lead icicles.

For Jean and her co-chair, Rebecca Dungan, who oversees the program committee for the RHM Board, it’s all about remembering the past through images and symbols of the times in a season where we are able to take time to remember.

When Jean joined the ranks of volunteers who bring Christmas in the 1870’s to life at RHM, she brought her love for the Christmas tree. And like Jean’s own house of trees, the trees each tell their own story. In Jean’s Granville home, she has an all-glass tree with a family collection of handmade glass ornaments dating back to the late 1800’s, an all Santa tree, a gingerbread tree, and more.

The first theme tree at the museum was the Civil War tree. “We really started the themes then,” Jean said. And for the first years, “we just moved that tree around,” Becky added.

“The Civil War Commemorative tree touched our visitors last year and will be followed this year be a WWI Commemorative tree honoring the Licking County soldiers who lost their lives in that war,” she added.

So then the idea caught on and the art of gathering original ornaments and crafting authentic reproductions took off. Becky herself, for example, has made virtually all of the ornaments for the 1870’s tree.

Others in the community contribute talents as well. Joanne Woodyard’s complete set of cut out Santas for the tree in the Hunter Room is here on loan while Nancy Eucker made blown eggs with pressed flower designs for the Egg Tree. “And the dried flower tree in the Doctor’s office is breathtaking,” Becky said.

All in all, the finished portrait of Christmas at Robbins Hunter Museum promises to live up to its name. Visit often during the season and take time to explore each and every tree.

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Scarecrows bring leaders to life

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Scarecrows bring leaders to life

Bicycle wheels, a handmade dress and blue-stitched eyes became the stuff of presidents and first ladies this fall as students from Welsh Hills School brought this country’s leaders to life…as scarecrows.

For the second year, the lawn of the museum was sprinkled with their creations in celebration of Halloween. Sixteen puffy headed, stiff armed, fully dressed and straw stuffed scarecrows represent either a president or a first lady in this presidential year. The invasion began on Oct. 14 and ran until the 31st. It was part of a museum-wide celebration of the fall holiday with collector George Johnson’s Halloween through the ages displayed inside.

The students of Licking County’s only independent school, located in Granville, delighted in telling the stories of their presidential pick and all they learned and created in this hands-on learning adventure. Three of them are here:

 

Avery Swartz, age 10, of Granville

Avery Swartz with Franklin Roosevelt

Avery Swartz with Franklin Roosevelt

Avery’s inspiration for his choice of Franklin D. Roosevelt might have begun with stories about handicapped children overcoming life’s obstacles. The film, “Annie,” and the story of Helen Keller, are two that Avery cites as important to him. “Roosevelt managed to do all that he did when he was paralyzed,” he said.  And that impressed Avery.

To portray the reality of Roosevelt’s life, Avery needed a wheelchair. “I wanted to make him look smart and attractive in the chair,” he said. So he used bicycle wheels and a regular chair to fashion the wheelchair for his Roosevelt scarecrow. “It took me about nine days to make him,” Avery said. “He’s now my favorite president.”

 

Nora Catherine Carrington, age 10, Newark

Nora Carrington and Martha Washington

Nora Carrington and Martha Washington

Nora went farther back in time to honor the very first, first lady, Martha Washington. Her Martha scarecrow was one of four first ladies represented this year with Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president, as the fifth woman to stand on the lawn.

Nora is fascinated with the life of Martha. She learned that Martha was married twice and had four children, none of whom survived childhood. Martha was a learned woman from a well-to-do family. “Learning about Martha was very fun,” Nora said. “When I first started I thought it would be too challenging, but then I found ten facts that were very helpful and said to myself, ‘I can do this.’” And she smiled.

Special for Nora is a dress that her grandmother had made for her mother when they lived near Williamsburg in Virginia and that now dons scarecrow Martha. “She made it for my mother to represent the women in colonial Williamsburg.  It has a shawl and an apron.”

In all, Nora was very pleased with her Martha. “I needed to repair an eye and the smile is a little thin, but I like it,” she said.

 

J.J. Herro, age 11, Granville

J.J. Herro with Teddy Roosevelt

J.J. Herro with Teddy Roosevelt

J.J. chose the other Roosevelt for his scarecrow. Teddy Roosevelt’s love for the outdoors and his Rough Riders persona captured JJ’s imagination. “He’s my favorite president,” JJ said. “And he was the youngest president at age 42.”

J.J. laughed when he began to talk about creating Teddy’s face where mouth, nose and eyes are stitched. “I’m not very good at sewing,” he said, “and then I realized that I sewed his eyes blue in the place where they should have been white!” But J.J. took the broader view and with a deadline to meet, he decided that was OK after all. His president when stuffed with straw and dressed is quite personable, J.J. agrees, and he is proud of his work.

 

All three students enjoyed the research component of this learning project as well as the construction part and were eager to share what they learned. The project was part of their language arts class under the direction of teacher Shelli Drumm, “The students looked over the list of presidents and first ladies, eliminating any selected last year. After they made their choice, they talked with the librarian about getting facts,” she said. “Each student then wrote and typed a biography.”

Drumm said she believes one of the most important parts of this project was their preparation to make a public presentation. When the scarecrows were installed, each student spoke about the life of these impressive men and women who have impressed them, in scarecrow form.

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From the collection...

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From the collection...

Sometime in early July, the phone in the office rang and the caller said he and his wife had purchased a piano at the auction of Robbins Hunter’s antiques in 1980.  The auction was held to raise money to restore the building for use as a museum.  They had kept the piano all these years in their home in Baltimore, Ohio, but were downsizing and moving to Maine.  A nineteenth century upright grand piano did not make the list of items to include in the move.  Would the museum like to have it back?

After some research about Broadwood pianos as well as the story of the 1980 auction, the collection committee agreed that indeed we are thrilled to make room for its return to Granville.

Label for Broadway and Sons

Label for Broadway and Sons

The piano bears the label of John Broadwood and Sons/Maker to His Majesty and the Princesses/Great Pultney St./Golden Square/London.  It is made of mahogany with Empire style legs and trim. The upright front is covered in red velvet.  But the really interesting part is the importance of the Broadwood  Company in the history of musical instruments.  Started by Burkat Studi, the company, since 1740, has made instruments for every British monarch.  In 1729, they made an instrument for Handel.  And in 1740, Studi made an instrument for Frederick, Prince of Wales (now in Kew Palace).  Twenty-five years later, nine year old Mozart, visiting London, played a Studi piano.  In the 1770’s John Broadwood married Studi’s youngest daughter and the name changed.  During that time, Broadwood supplied pianos to painters Reynolds and Gainsborough and to Josef Hayden in Vienna.  The company was exporting to Russia, Denmark, Portugal, Italy, France, West Indies, and America (where its agent was John Jacob Astor).  In 1785, records show that Thomas Jefferson visited Broadwood to discuss musical instruments.  In 1796, a grand was made as a present for the Queen of Spain with a case designed by Thomas Sheraton with Wedgewood medallions (now in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts).  An upright grand style was introduced in 1795 and two were sold to the wives of Nelson and Wellington.  After the Napoleonic wars, in 1817, Thomas Broadwood toured Europe and visited Beethoven in Vienna.  The next year, he sent the composer a six octave grand which is now in the National Museum of Hungary, Budapest.  It was later owned by Liszt.

In 1840, Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, who brought a Broadwood piano to Buckingham Palace where the young couple made music with Mendelssohn.  By 1842, 2500 pianos a year were being produced at the Broadwood Company, one of twelve largest employers of labor in London. 

In 1848 Chopin was provided with three Broadwood instruments for his British tour:  one for his lodging, one for his London concerts, and one for his Scottish concerts. 

At the Paris exhibition in 1867, Emperor Napoleon presented a Gold Medal to Henry Broadwood.  In 1981,  one of their pianos was accepted as a wedding gift by the Prince and Princess of Wales for Kensington Palace.  Production continues today.

The Broadwood now back in the collection of Robbins Hunter Museum is installed in the Hunter room, just opposite Hunter’s portrait.  He appears to be once again watching over it.  We do not know of anyone famous or royal who ever played this instrument.  In fact, we do not have a record of how it came into Hunter’s possession.

Full view of the piano.  Note Empire style legs and trim.

Full view of the piano.  Note Empire style legs and trim.

We are so grateful for the generosity of Barbara and Richard Sellers, who not only donated this fine instrument, but made arrangements and paid for piano delivery specialists to place it in the museum.

Be sure to ask to see it the next time you visit the Robbins Hunter Museum.

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Edward Mott Downer and the Electoral College

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Edward Mott Downer and the Electoral College

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Jean McDaniel, former director of the museum, uncovered a bit of history about Edward Mott Downer, namesake of the Avery-Downer House, when she took a look at the Electoral College in 2004. Following are excerpts from an article she wrote in 2004 of the day Downer cast his electoral vote for William McKinley, who won the hotly contested national election for president in 1896, running against William Jennings Bryan.

 

“The day of the electoral vote, Edward Downer probably boarded a train for Columbus at the T & OC Stations where the Parker Realty is today, or at the long gone Union Station at Kylesburg just south of Granville. Arriving at Union Station in Columbus, he would have hired a hack (horse and buggy cab) to take him to the Statehouse.

There he would have met the other 22 electors – all party faithfuls. I am sure they lunched together as did the GOP Electors of 2004, probably in the dining room of the Neil House right across from the State Capitol. The Neil House was also the home of Governor McKinley and his wife during his term of office.

Granville’s Bicentennial history honors Edward Mott Downer (1826-1914) who stepped forward to fulfill a citizen’s role in the United States of America’s free election process which followed the same format that was implemented in 1804 and has not changed to this day.”

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From My Desk...

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From My Desk...

"Visitors from all parts of the globe have toured the Avery-Downer House this summer...The exhibit, Celebrating Victoria, has sparked a lot of interest."

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RHM Celebrates anniversary and the future

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RHM Celebrates anniversary and the future

With the 35th anniversary of the Robbins Hunter Museum and the dedication of the garden folly as part of the Jill Griesse Historic Garden jointly celebrated on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 26 and 27, history has been made and so noted.

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A look back to 1981

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A look back to 1981

Thirty-five years!  An achievement for any institution to celebrate….and Robbins Hunter Museum is!  My thoughts have turned back the clock... 

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