Monday, December 21, 2009

Progress in the workshop thanks to the M-WTCA

Phil Baker and Neil Bohnert of the M-WTCA look over potential tools with Phil Mark, Stratford's Director of Preservation

With the official reopening of the Southwest outbuilding slated for April 2010, we are coming down the home stretch with furnishing research.  The workshop area of the building (the first room you walk into) is in good shape thanks to the support of the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association (M-WTCA).

These avid tool collectors and scholars have been helping to identify period-appropriate tools for a woodworking shop and are helping us understand the meaning of notations from our Lee family documents.

In the inventory of Stratford taken in 1758, for instance, we see listed:
Coopers Ditto [tools]
sawyers tools
Carpenters Do [tools]
What specialized tools did each of these kinds of craftsmen need?

And in Richard Henry Lee's memorandum book [in the Huntington Library collection] we have been finding even further information about woodworking at Stratford.  In the document are notations for Lee lending J. Paxton, Stratford's joiner, tools such as "1 1/2 inch Mortice chisel" as well as planes and other items.  This raises questions for us:  What does a 1/2 inch mortise chisel look like in 1787?  Where did the Stratford joiners, carpenters, sawyers, and coopers get their tools?  Who were these men?

We hope to answer these questions and many more with our new display.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas at Stratford Hall

Our yearly Christmas at Stratford Hall will be held this Saturday, December 12, 2009 from 12pm until 8pm.

This year, we're doing things a little bit differently. From 12pm to 4pm, we will have a variety of children’s activities in the Visitor Center, including Christmas crafts and visits with Santa Claus. We will also take pictures of children with Santa Claus and will charge only $1 per picture to print them. This family-oriented portion of the day will also include fun activities in the area around the Great House, where children and parents alike can learn about Christmas during the Lees’ time at Stratford Hall.

At 4:30pm, visitors will begin visiting the Great House to learn about Christmas in the 18th-century. The evening will begin with refreshments and entertainment in the Visitor Center. Then, as you travel across the bridge to the gift shop area, you will enjoy a bonfire where you will meet your guide. From there you will step back into Colonial times as you are guided through parts of the Great House, where you will see how food was served and view the festivities with the Lees’ guests in the Great Hall. You will end your visit in the outdoor kitchen, where you will learn how food was prepared for the Lees and their guests. African American foodways historian Michael Twitty will be cooking in the kitchen. The last tour will take place at 8pm.

Please note that the Great House will be closed until 12pm on December 12, 2009. If you have any questions about this program, please contact me at The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-11.

Hope to see you here at Stratford Hall this Saturday!