Press Contact:
Director of Communications
Heather Bartlow, hbartlow@tudorplace.org
Website: www.tudorplace.org
Tudor Place Historic House and Garden
1644 31st Street NW
Washington, DC 2007

Download the PDF

June 21, 2010

Washington, D.C. – June 21, 2010 — At 1:30 p.m. on June 21, 2010, Bunny Muir, Nan Hobson, and Amy Dewey of the National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the District of Colombia presented Tudor Place Historic House and Garden in Georgetown with gifts that relate to the laying of the first transatlantic cable. The first gift, an 1857 letter from Captain Beverley Kennon to his half-sister Martha Kennon Peter, was written while he was deployed on the USS Niagara, one of the first ships to attempt the laying of the transatlantic cable. The second, is a lithograph of the USS Niagara. “We are pleased to accept these gifts that bring to life the story of one of the greatest communication feats of the 19th century.”, says Tudor Place Executive Director Leslie Buhler. “These gifts are one further example of the diverse stories related to the Peter family. The lives of the extended family touched many of the great events of American history.” A necklace made of a section of the transatlantic cable, now owned by a descendant, is currently on loan to Tudor Place.

Captain Beverly Kennon was the step-son of Britannia Peter Kennon, owner of Tudor Place from 1854 – 1911, whose husband, Commodore Beverly Kennon, was killed in a tragic accident on board the USS Princeton in 1844. Britannia raised the young Beverly Kennon along with her daughter Martha, to whom the letter is addressed, at Tudor Place. “We are very pleased to bring these objects back to their home.”, says Ms. Muir, current President of the NSCDA-DC.

Until the first transatlantic cable was laid, communication between Europe and North America took at least a week. The first cable was manufactured in 1857 and an attempt to lay it was made by the American USS Niagara and the British Agamemnon. Starting in Ireland, the cable snapped after six days with only 380 miles laid. After many failed attempts, the cable was successfully laid and became operational in July 1866. The first message sent on the cable was: “A treaty of peace has been signed between Austria and Prussia”. Within 20 years, approximately 107,000 miles of undersea cables linked all parts of the world. It was not until the 1960s that the first communication satellites offered an alternative to the cable.

Located in Georgetown’s Historic District, this National Historic Landmark is a house museum distinguished for its neoclassical architecture, decorative arts collection, and five-and-a-half acre garden. Built in 1816, it was home to Thomas Peter and his wife, Martha Custis Peter, granddaughter of Martha Washington. It housed six generations of the Peter family over the course of 180 years. Now, open to the public, the historic home is one of our nation’s hidden gems. For details visit www.tudorplace.org

Why I Love Tudor Place Volunteers…

Volunteers are seldom paid; not because they are worthless, but because they are PRICELESS!
–author unknown

As the Communications Director here at Tudor Place, visitor feedback is vital to many of my marketing decisions.  So, in 2010 we started distributing an improved visitor survey.  Over the last 6 months I have analyzed data from hundreds of these surveys and the one thing that has stood out to me is the constant praise our volunteers receive.  On virtually every survey, a visitor comments on how fantastic their tour guide was, how he or she was knowledgeable, friendly, patient, helpful, the list goes on and on!  These knowledgeable and friendly people are what keep places like Tudor Place alive. They give up their afternoons, evenings, weekend to help us further the mission of this historic site.  It does not matter what type of exhibit we have, what historic rose is blooming in the garden, or what great event we have coming up, a visitor who has a bad experience at Tudor Place is not likely to return.  Additionally, visitors do not return because we have a really great advertisement in the newspaper, they come back because they had an enjoyable experience that they want to repeat or share with a friend.  This experience is more often than not provided by our volunteers, and they are doing a heck of a job!
So, on behalf of all of us who can continue to keep places like Tudor Place running because of the great experiences provided to visitors by volunteers, THANK YOU!!
Tudor Place volunteers not only give tours, but some help in the garden, in the administration offices, at special events, and/or education programs. Additionally, our very capable and friendly volunteer coordinator, Jeralynn Graham, provides educational programs exclusive to volunteers, once a month. Recent programs have included:


A lecture on the Underground Railroad in Washington, DC by Jenny Mazur
A tour of Dumbarton House’s exhibit Preparing for the Ball: Costume of the Early Nation
A lecture on the restoration of George Washington’s Chest-on-Chest by Executive Director, Leslie Buhler
Strands of Time – The Hairwork Jewelry Collection at Tudor Place, lecture by Collections Manager Fay Winkle


Tudor Place is in need of more volunteers!  If you or someone you know are interested in volunteering, please see below.

Museum Docents:

Volunteers are needed to lead house tours! Training is provided, on-site parking is available. For further information call Jeralynn Graham at 202-965-0400 x 115 or email jgraham@tudorplace.org.

Tudor Place Garden Volunteers :
Tudor Place is currently seeking volunteers to help support the garden staff with the upkeep of our 5 ½ acre historic estate. Volunteer days are currently Monday and Friday with two shifts, (9:30 am – 11:30 am) or (1:30 pm – 3:30 pm). We can accommodate other schedules depending on skill level. Garden volunteers can expect a wide range of tasks including weeding, dead heading, seed collecting, mulching, and pruning. Volunteering requires the ability to work within a group setting or work independently, at times. This is an excellent opportunity for new gardeners or those who have been gardening for years to learn more about horticulture and the challenges of landscape preservation. Please contact Suzanne Bouchard, Director of Gardens & Grounds, at (202) 965-0400 ext 111 or email sbouchard@tudorplace.org for more information.

Tudor Place is located in the neighborhood of Georgetown in Washington, DC. Please visit our website, www.tudorplace.org, for more information about the museum and our gardens.

Post by: Heather Bartlow

“Gentlemen, you have played this d—d well.”

The outbreak of Civil War brought turmoil and tragedy to citizens in Georgetown and across the capital city. For the Peter family, the most tragic occurrence of the conflict was the execution by hanging of two family members accused of being Southern spies. They were executed 147 years ago today June 9, 1863. The below article from Harper’s Weekly tells their story…

Orton & Gip in their Confederate uniforms (photo on display in the SW bedroom at Tudor Place).


In the case below the photo are the spurs that were removed from their bodies at the time of their disinterment. Inscription: “Two pair of spurs that were removed from the boots of Uncle Gip and Cousin Orton when Father had their remains disinterred after their execution – given to me by Father, AP, Jr.

HARPER’S WEEKLY – July 4, 1863


WE are indebted to Mr. James K. Magie, of the 78th Illinois Regiment, for the sketch of the execution of the two rebel spies, WILLIAMS and PETERS, who were hanged by General Rosecrans on 9th inst. The following account of the affair is from a letter written by the surgeon of the 85th Indiana :



June 9, 1863.

Last evening about sundown two strangers rode into camp and called at Colonel Baird’s head-quarters, who presented unusual appearances. They had on citizens’ overcoats, Federal regulation pants and caps. The caps were covered with white flannel havelocks. They wore sidearms, and showed high intelligence. One claimed to be a colonel in the United States Army, and called himself Colonel Austin; the other called himself Major Dunlap, and both representing themselves as Inspector-Generals of the United States Army. They represented that they were now out on an expedition in this department, inspecting the outposts and defenses, and that day before yesterday they had been overhauled by the enemy and lost their coats and purses. They exhibited official papers from General Rosecrans, and also from the War Department at Washington, confirming their rank and business. These were all right to Colonel Bayard, and at first satisfied him of their honesty. They asked the Colonel to loan them $50, as they had no coats and no money to buy them. Colonel Baird loaned them the money, and took Colonel Austin’s note for it. Just at dark they started, saying they were going to Nashville, and took that way. Just so soon as their horses’ heads were turned the thought of their being spies struck Colonel Baird, he says, like a thunder-bolt, and he ordered Colonel Watkins, of the 6th Kentucky cavalry, who was standing by, to arrest them immediately. But they were going at lightning speed. Colonel Watkins had no time to call a guard, and only with his orderly he set out on the chase. He ordered the orderly to unsling his carbine, and if, when he (the Colonel) halted them they showed any suspicious motions, to fire on them without waiting for an order. They were overtaken about one-
third of a mile from here. Colonel Watkins told them that Colonel Baird wanted to make some further inquiries of them, and asked them to return. This they politely consented to do, after some remonstrance on account of the lateness of the hour and the distance they had to travel, and Colonel Watkins led them to his tent, where he placed a strong guard over them. It was not until one of them attempted to pass the guard at the door that they even suspected they were prisoners. Colonel Watkins immediately brought them to Colonel Baird under strong guard. They at once manifested great uneasiness, and pretended great indignation at being thus treated. Colonel Baird frankly told them that he had his suspicions of their true character, and that they should, if loyal, object to no necessary caution. They were very hard to satisfy, and were in a great hurry to get off. Colonel Baird told them that they were under arrest, and he should hold them prisoners until he was fully satisfied that they were what they purported to be. He immediately telegraphed to General Rosecrans, and received the answer that he knew nothing of any such men, that there were no such men in his employ, or had his pass.

Long before this dispatch was received, however, every one who had an opportunity of hearing their conversation was well satisfied that they were spies. Smart as they were, they gave frequent and distinct evidence of duplicity. After this dispatch came to hand, which it did about 12 o’clock (midnight), a search of their persons was ordered. To this the Major consented without opposition, but the Colonel protested against it, and even put his hand to his arms, But resistance was useless, and both submitted. When the Major’s sword was drawn from the scabbard there were found etched upon it these words, “Lt. W. G. Peter, C.S.A.” At this discovery Colonel Baird remarked, “Gentlemen, you have played this d—d well.” “Yes,” said Lieutenant Peter, “and it came near being a perfect success.” They then confessed the whole matter, and upon further search various papers showing their guilt were discovered upon their persons. Lieutenant Peter was found to have on a rebel cap, secreted by the white flannel havelock.

Colonel Baird immediately telegraphed the facts to General Rosecrans and asked what he should do, and in a short time received an order “to try them by a drum-head court-martial, and if found guilty hang them immediately.” The court was convened, and before daylight the case was decided, and the prisoners informed that they must prepare for immediate death by hanging….. (read the REST OF THE STORY HERE)