Standing in Solidarity: A Message from Mark Hudson, Executive Director

Events of the past week serve as painful reminders of our nation’s legacy of racism and the struggles that remain with us today. As an historic site that bears the scars of slavery, Tudor Place seeks to look this injustice in the eye. In acknowledging this part of our story, we pursue a common understanding that may help our nation and our community transcend its troubled past.

We mourn for all those who have suffered at the violent hand of racism and stand with those whose voices cry out for justice, longing for the day when protests will no longer be needed.

-Mark S. Hudson
Executive Director

New Gifts: Keep Busy Boxes

New Gifts at Tudor Place: Keep Busy Boxes

Support Tudor Place when you purchase a limited edition Keep Busy Box. Each care package includes an exclusive selection of items from the Museum Shop.

Prices include tax and shipping.

 

The Local Enthusiast $50

*Embassy Row Puzzle (100 pieces)
*Cherry notecards
*Homegrown Loofah from the Tudor Place Garden

 

The Tudor Place Fan $30

*Tudor Place Puzzle (54 pieces)
*Tudor Place Souvenir Book
*Blank notecard featuring Tudor Place South Façade
*Tudor Place Magnet

 

The Tea Lover $50

*Blackberry Tea Tin
*C.S. Lewis Mugmat
*Tudor Place Mug

 

The Book Lover $65

*Tudor Place Souvenir Book
*Literary Circles of Washington DC
*The Washingtons by Flora Fraser

 

The Garden Enthusiast $35

*Homegrown Black Eyed Susan and Cleome Seeds
*Harvest Log notepad
*Homegrown Loofah from the Tudor Place Garden

Taking Time to Notice

Tudor Place is launching a month-long initiative that will run from April 15 to May 15 as part of City Nature Month, Earth Day and National Public Gardens Week. Tudor Place will post activities and lessons, chat with students in their new home classrooms and share moments captured in the garden.

Look for updates from Tudor Place on the Education at Home portal and on social media.

April 22, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a unifying movement of parents, students, scientists and concerned citizens that began when Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson called on Americans to care for both the natural world and their neighbors.

In 2020, naturalists and horticulture hobbyists provide sound advice: go outside and look.

Notice the details and changes in the natural world around. Even if that means just beyond the doorstep.

Tudor Place partners with iNaturalist, City Nature Challenge and the American Public Gardens Association. Each organization embraces the healing power of nature. iNaturalist is a platform that crowdsources professional plant identifications, using photos by everyday citizens to create a worldwide scientific catalog. City Nature Challenge encourages stewardship of the natural world in urban spaces. The American Public Gardens Association is committed to making gardens inclusive public spaces.

These organizations rely on professional knowledge and citizen science – they need everyday observers.

The request, in the end, is simple: sit back, take a moment, and notice.

COVID-19 Update

 

We consider the welfare and safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers to be our first priority. In response to concerns about the COVID-19 virus,

Tudor Place is closed through July 31.

Check our Education at Home portal for an array of activities, crafts and more updated weekly.

Mark recently participated in a panel discussion about the future of historic house museums in the wake of Covid-19. Organized by Dumbarton House, the panel included their Executive Director, Karen Daly, and Erin Carlson Mast, CEO of President’s Lincoln’s Cottage.

You are a vital part of keeping Tudor Place a site of discovery, curiosity and learning today and for generations to come. In times such as these, we are ever more grateful for our extended network of friends, family and supporters who continue to stand alongside us. Brighter days lie ahead.

Thank you for supporting Tudor Place.

Donate

 

2018 Tudor Place Annual Report

APGA Garden Cognoscenti Visit Tudor Place

Think of it this way — a group of famous interior designers stop by to check out the inside of your house.

Tudor Place had the garden equivalent on June 20, when the national conference of the American Public Gardens Association came to town, and a breakfast tour of the Tudor Place gardens was on the agenda.

The steamy heat scared off some of the would-be wanderers, but it takes a lot to deter horticulturists who are used to working outdoors in all seasons.

Director of Buildings, Gardens & Grounds Josh Meyer gave an introduction to the historic garden, with stories of the varied ways the spaces were used by six generations of the Peter family.


Here the group is standing on what was once the long entrance driveway for horses and carriages.

Touring the North Garden with its series of garden rooms, like the Box Knot studded with roses and lavender.

 

Then on to the sloping South Lawn, passing the Conservatory where the citrus trees, clivias and cycads spend the winter.

 

Tudor Place was proud to be an APGA Conference Partner for the gathering of 1,100 staff from public gardens around the country.

Tudor Place gardeners weren’t the only ones prepping for the scrutiny of their horticultural peers. Find out what Josh Meyer, and the heads of other local gardens, told Washington Gardener magazine about how they got ready for the big APGA week.

 

Stars and Stripes–Tudor Place Riddled with Military History

The U.S. military newspaper Stars and Stripes received an introduction to the military history of the Peter family and Tudor Place from Executive Director Mark Hudson and Curator Grant Quertermous.

Tudor Place is a Blue Star museum, and is free for active U.S. military and their families from Armed Forces Day (the third Saturday in May) until Labor Day each year.

Tudor Place also honors all active and retired service families with this offer on Veterans Day, November 11.

Tudor Place is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tours begin on the hour and the last daily tour starts at 3 p.m. Reserve tours online or at the Visitor Center.

Diverse Women of Tudor Place

October 11th was declared the International Day of the Girl by the United Nations in 2011. The day serves a dual purpose: highlighting the challenges girls in today’s world face and simultaneously promoting girls’ empowerment. In 2018, the day focuses on expanding learning opportunities by encouraging girls to think outside the box as they develop their skillsets. Tudor Place is filled with the stories of incredible women and, in particular, the stories of women who had to be creative and innovative throughout their lives. In telling these stories, we hope to inspire girls to discover their own stories while exploring those of the women who lived and worked here at Tudor Place.

The first woman on our list is Britannia Kennon. Born in 1815 as the youngest daughter of Thomas and Martha Peter, she married at age 27 in 1842. She had one daughter, Martha called Markie, before her husband was killed in a shipboard accident in 1844. She never remarried, choosing instead to live as sole mistress of Tudor Place until she passed away on the eve of her 96th birthday in 1911. During her 56-year period of ownership, she took in four of her sister’s orphaned children, rented out rooms during the Civil War to avoid governmental seizure of the house, sold land at the northern end of the property to support the family, and assisted in raising her grandchildren following her daughter’s early death in 1886. We at Tudor Place are particularly fond of Britannia because she provided us with a treasure trove of knowledge about the objects in her care—including our extensive collection of objects from Mount Vernon. These handwritten notes detail the ownership and use of these objects and are invaluable resources for our curator and collections team. Because of this, we consider Britannia to be the house’s first ‘curator.’

Agnes Peter, Britannia’s only granddaughter, is another intriguing woman who lived at Tudor Place. In 1918, Agnes enrolled in a specialized summer course designed to prepare women for war work that included classes in wireless telegraphy, electrical repair, Red Cross work, the French language, and automobile repair. Following the course, Agnes prepared to go overseas with the Red Cross for war work. Though her trip was cancelled when the Armistice was signed in November of 1918, she did go to work in France with the YMCA and operated shelters for soldiers and children throughout France. In 1921 she received two medals from the French government for her humanitarian work there. Agnes did not marry until age 73; she married Dr. John Mott, an 88-year-old widower. He passed away in 1955 and she in 1957; she is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery near her parents, several of her siblings, and her beloved grandmother.

Caroline Peter, wife of Tudor Place’s last private owner Armistead Peter 3rd, was born in Paris in 1894 while her American parents were living abroad. Also a Red Cross volunteer during both world wars, Caroline served at the U.S. Debarkation Hospital and Georgetown University Hospital. At her Georgetown station she was a captain of the Red Cross Nurse’s Aides and completed over 4,000 hours of service. Having taken nursing courses at Johns Hopkins prior to World War I, she continued to volunteer in the medical field at the Mount Alto Veterans Hospital following World War II. Caroline was an active member of numerous local organizations, including the Literary Society, the Junior League, the Alliance-Française, The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America, and the Georgetown Garden Club.

But Tudor Place’s story is not just limited to the members of the Peter family. Numerous people, both enslaved and free, worked here on the property and we have the opportunity and responsibility to tell their stories too. The Peter family did own enslaved people and they represent a significant component of Tudor Place’s history. For example, the Peters owned a cook named Patty Allen prior to 1831. Though only fragments of information can be found about Patty, we do know that an enslaved woman named Patty was included in Thomas Peter’s Day Book listing of enslaved people received in 1796—Patty is noted to be 25 at this time. Patty was actually married to a free man who lived here in Georgetown and our records tell us she went home each evening, which was unusual as most enslaved people lived on their owners’ estates. Because of this, we see Patty as someone who was able to negotiate with the Peters and advocate for herself in a way that differed from the norm.

Another enslaved woman at Tudor Place, Stacia, did live at Tudor Place and worked in the household; her duties included caring for the Peter family’s children and occasionally acting as a nurse. Stacia was given major responsibilities by the family, including nursing a nephew through a bout of typhoid fever (which she did successfully) and caring for the house and grounds while Britannia, then-owner, was travelling. Stacia was roughly the same age as Britannia and they maintained a lifelong relationship, keeping in touch following emancipation in the District of Columbia in 1862. Stacia continued to live in Georgetown and her last recorded contact with Britannia was in 1892, only 19 years before Britannia’s death.

Like Stacia, Hannah Pope straddles the line between enslaved and free. Born in 1828 to Barbara, daughter of one of the Custis dower slaves, Hannah was raised at Tudor Place and her primary duties were as a lady’s maid to Britannia. Britannia noted that Hannah had mixed racial ancestry and, though her father is unknown, her descendants believe that he was a member of the Peter family. Hannah was sold to a nearby Georgetown family, the Carters, in 1845 to marry one of the Carters’ enslaved workers—a man named Alfred Pope. Both Hannah and Alfred were manumitted, or freed, in Colonel Carter’s will and proceeded to become prominent members of Georgetown’s African-American community. Alfred, with support from Hannah, became a successful business man and, at the time of his death, owned a significant amount of land in Georgetown.

Following emancipation, the Peter family turned to the immigrant population in addition to the newly-freed African-American population as a source of paid labor. Margaret “Maggie” Carraher, who had immigrated to the United States from Ireland in 1868 at the age of 19, lived and worked at Tudor Place between 1880 and 1888, then again from 1904 and 1911. Armistead Peter 3rd, Tudor Place’s last private owner, remembers watching her make bread when he was a young boy, which she did “expertly.” Following her retirement in 1911, Maggie received cash gifts from the Peter family for several years. She passed away in December of 1932 and is buried nearby in Holy Rood Cemetery.

Each of these women demonstrate the resourcefulness, determination, ingenuity, and dedication that the International Day of the Girl hopes to inspire in new generations of girls. From negotiating to live offsite, as Patty Allen did, to utilizing nursing skills during the world wars, as Caroline Peter did, every one of these women were able to achieve remarkable things with the circumstances they were in. We can learn important things from all of these stories; determination from Britannia, adventurousness from Agnes, dedication from Caroline, ingenuity from Patty, capability from Stacia, resourcefulness from Hannah, and tenacity from Maggie. Perhaps we can even see a little of ourselves in these women and, in turn, learn something about ourselves from the girls of the past.

South Lawn Cistern Project

Tudor Place, in pursuing sustainability and responsible stewardship of the historic house and grounds, is currently working to actively conserve water and regulate the stormwater flow on and from our site.

The stormwater management project, starting in February 2019 on the South Lawn, will reduce silt and water runoff, mitigate destructive erosion, and diminish our consumption of fresh water.

In collaboration with our architect, civil engineer, preservation consultant, and other experts, we designed a system that will meet our needs and our sustainable practice standards. Two underground cisterns will be fed by existing stormwater lines that gather rainwater from the Main House downspouts and gutters. These two cisterns can hold nearly 20,000 gallons of water, which we will use for irrigation after a short treatment process. Altogether, this project will involve excavating and placing the cisterns, installing the irrigation pump and water treatment system, and connecting the irrigation lines to the new water supply.

This project is a component of our Master Preservation Plan, developed in collaboration with stakeholders to reach the goal of enhancing Tudor Place’s interpretive capabilities while advancing the site’s overall sustainability. Other sustainability initiatives include implementing LED lighting throughout the property, and building an HVAC system based on geothermal energy.

Visit our Smokehouse

Modern “locavores” will appreciate the urban-agrarian mix of Peter family sourcing.

With 8½ (now 5½) acres of land that once supported hay crops and livestock, early generations of Peters fed their large household with a mix of home-grown provisions and foods secured from nearby merchants and outlying farms, including their own.

Because pork was not merely favored in the early 19th century but a staple, the Smokehouse stood at the center of a food chain supported by Oakland, the Peter family’s plantation in rural Seneca, Maryland, some 20 miles away. (Georgetown, until the late 1700s, was part of Maryland.)

Hogs raised at Oakland were delivered each fall to Tudor Place to be slowly cured over weeks by an enslaved servant.  As Martha Peter’s daughter Britannia recalled, “The hogs were cut up, salted and packed in barrels for six weeks, after which they were hung up with white oak splits in the meat house and smoked.”

The Smokehouse was integral in both processing the meat and, in the months that followed, storing it securely from animals, thieves, and vermin.

New research shows that the building likely stood here as early as 10 years before Martha and Thomas Peter purchased the property in 1805 from Francis Lowndes, formerly of Bladensburg, Maryland. This would make it one of the only surviving 18th-century outbuildings (or “dependencies”) in the District.

The researchers used dendrochronology, a method of dating wood by its inherent patterns of tree (or “growth”) rings. Samples of Smokehouse lumber were compared to databases of the region’s trees from various eras to arrive at a construction date of 1795. To corroborate the results, we know only that the property contained two dwellings and five other structures of unnamed type when Lowndes sold it to the Peters. We will continue to seek descriptions of what those buildings consisted of, to help us confirm the dendro results, so expect more news in the future about this exciting find.