1st Annual Tree Fest Celebrates the Tudor Place Canopy

 

Tulip poplar in fall

March 29, 2014 | 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Register Now

The shelter and dignity of the property’s historic trees — and the risks they face from the violent weather of recent years — have inspired a new event at Tudor Place: a Tree Fest, free and open to the public. Our local environment and the canopy of heritage trees are the focus, and there will be something for everyone!

  • An artisanal Market Fair offering sustainable merchandise and information from people and organizations working on behalf of the environment and landscape.
  • For families, puppet shows at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and games and crafts all day.
  • A 1 p.m. guided walk with tree expert Melanie Choukas-Bradley, author of City of Trees, will help you learn to understand and identify local species.
  • A chance to say “hello” to the newly planted white oak tree! It replaces the two-century-old specimen lost last year to age and storm damage and represents Tudor Place’s ongoing investment in the tall trees of tomorrow.

NOTE: Public transportation recommended. Tudor Place is easily reached by bus, Metro and a short walk, and bicycle (including Bike Share).

Vendor Information

Now taking vendor registrations for October! The Tree Fest is fully subscribed, but we are taking registrations from vendors and organizations now for the October 18 Fall Harvest Fest, also free and open to the public. Are you a talented regional artisan or food purveyor? Do you have crafts, merchandise, creative eats, and/or useful information to offer? Please contact us today!

Seasonal Themes and Installations

 

Something for every taste and season!

Schedule your visit around these special installations! Tudor Place tours offer immediacy and authenticity. Now, there’s more! Don’t miss these seasonal displays, included at no extra charge in every tour, of rare Collections objects, each with a story of its own. And any time we’re open, come to the Visitor Center at no charge to see a display of photographs of Tudor Place in the snow, 1910-1913, taken and printed in silver-nitrate format by the estate’s last owner while he was a teenager.

 

FDR White House Invitation

A Visit With the Presidents

FEBRUARY + MARCH

Requesting the pleasure of your company…  From documents like the Franklin Roosevelt White House invitation at left, to porcelain that graced the very first Presidential table, Tudor Place is filled with ties to the highest office in the land. Rare artifacts and little known stories are part of this two-month tour component. Admission half-price throughout February!

 

Floral plate, 19th century
Gardens In & Out

APRIL – AUGUST

Through six generations, the Peters of Tudor Place turned their focus beyond the 1816 mansion to their multi-acred landscape. This fresh and fascinating tour installation reveals how the family drew inspiration for their indoor lives from the lush “rooms,” heritage trees, and garden beds they cultivated outdoors. Drawing from the museum’s voluminous Collection and Archive, the tour highlights botanical images and ideas found in books, cards, magazines, textiles, and china.

 

smokehouse door

 

Eating Local — Feeding the Urban Estate

SEPTEMBER – NOVEMBER

Harvest and the Smokehouse are the focus for fall across the 1816 Landmark site, from the newly restored ca. 1795 smokehouse to the historic kitchen and 5½-acre gardens that once helped sustain owners and workers on this iconic urban estate. Agricultural implements will be on view, along with the kitchen preparations and table setting for a fine 1830s family dinner featuring the best of the smokehouse’s yield, ham and sausages. Also view related collections items including ceramics, housewares, diaries, receipts, and recipes, all chronicling domestic life in the city since the days when hay grew on the South Lawn. Learn about early “locavorism” on all regular tours (offered hourly), at special events, and when you visit the garden and newly opened Smokehouse. What better way to understand how land, labor, and urban larders have evolved since our city’s earliest days?

 

Dining table holiday centerpiece
Red, Green & Gold: the New and the Old
   Tudor Place Sparkles for Christmas

THANKSGIVING – DECEMBER 31

Experience the best of tradition and 21st-century flair over the holidays in the National Historic Landmark mansion. This seasonal installation in their onetime home imagines how the Peters would have decorated for a modern Christmas, blending heirloom spaces and collections with modern style in winter greenery, ribbons and bows, and the sparkle of lights and color.

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Ribbons, Roses and Wine in the Garden: Box Knot Rededicated

 

Tudor Place Trustee Bruce Whelihan, here flanked by
wife Alice (RIGHT) and Executive Director Leslie Buhler,
was celebrated for helping to secure funding for the
project from The Ruth S. Willoughby Foundation.
Celebration came to these historic gardens this month when Tudor Place Trustees and staff gathered with neighbors and other supporters to “cut the ribbon” on the newly restored Box Knot Garden. This formal layout of heirloom roses in geometric beds defined by boxwood hedges dates to the home’s earliest days. Its renewal and restoration for centuries to come, completed in November 2011, signals the commitment to the preservation of the entirety of historic assets stewarded by Tudor Place Foundation for the public good.
The North Garden donned its best spring colors for the evening reception, which featured wine, canapes, and heartfelt remarks on the historic estate’s past, present, and bright future. Once the ribbon was released, guests trod lightly among the flower beds where Tudor Place founder Martha Custis Peter herself once tended beloved roses. During the Civil War, the garden fell into disrepair and its original layout was lost. It was recovered in the 1926 from a garden design book showing Avenel, in Virginia, where the Knot had been copied, and a restoration was completed in 1933 based on the Avenel drawing.

The sundial that centers the geometric layout came from CrossBasket Castle in Lanarkshire, Scotland, the childhood home of Robert Peter, tobacco merchant and first mayor of Georgetown. His son Thomas bought the land on which Tudor Place sits with his wife, the former Martha Custis, in 1805. They funded the eight-acre purchase with a legacy from George Washington of $8,000 (some $11 million in today’s dollars).
Trustee Dan Dowd came prepared for rain, but none fell.
Instead, a gray twilight lent its glow to the spring blossoms.

 

Curator of Collections Erin Kuykendall (RIGHT) shared stories with
Collections Committee member Elizabeth Edgeworth.

 

Director of Gardens & Grounds Suzanne Bouchard, who shepherded the project from vision to completion, discusses its contours with Board Vice President Geoffrey Baker and Trustee Margaret Jones Steuart.

 

Guests were invited to take home cuttings from the
estate’s historic boxwood.

 

The Circle Garden, with the aroma of mock
oranges floating in from its perimeter, made a
perfect setting for cocktails.

 

As a token of appreciation, Mr. Baker presented Mr.
Whelihan a painting of the restored garden, commissioned
for the occasion from Tudor Place Artist-in-Residence Peter Waddell.

 

Director Leslie Buhler exchanges a word with Trustee
C. Jackson Ritchie, cradling his boxwood seedling.

 

A new leaf, literal and figurative, for a landscape nearly spanning our country’s history — truly something to celebrate!

 

A Day to Celebrate Washington and Experience Life Before Electricity

By Haylee Wilson, Tudor Place Communications Intern

Stepping into George Washington’s shoes, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and other young people experienced life without apps, engines and appliances on Presidents’ Day. They joined more than 100 visitors of all ages in “Celebrating George” and his influence at Tudor Place, along with the chance to see Washington items of special significance on view just this one day each year. (The wider “Window on Washington”  featuring displays of many Washington artifacts remains on view through March.)

The event provided a rare occasion to snack on period treats, try one’s hand at early American artwork, and stroll freely through the mansion with expert staff and docents on hand to highlight the Washingtons’ legacy here. During Presidents’ Day only, visitors could examine one of three surviving letters from George Washington to his wife, in which he bade her a fond farewell as he took up his Continental Army commission. Mrs. Washington’s handcrafted needlework was also on display for one day only, as was a famed miniature portrait of the first President, an engagement gift from him to his step-granddaughter, Martha Custis Peter — founding mistress of Tudor Place. — and one of the few portraits for which he personally sat.
Guests were met in the Conservatory with colorful baked goods made from period recipes, including Codling Apple Tarts, Hyson’s Green Tea, and Martha Washington’s own Great Cake (recipe follows this post).

Every child was invited to complete a scavenger hunt through the grounds, and its completion earned them small prizes. Our camera followed one set of scouts and families who, clipboards in hand, headed off after treats were finished for a little adventure.

 

Natural sunlight beaming through the windows lighted their way throughout the house as they searched for clues. First, they were introduced to appliances that residents used before the conveniences of electricity.  They considered the absence of microwaves and freezers in the Peter family’s 1914 kitchen.

Scavenger hunters learned how, even in the absence of motorized tools, domestic workers pulled off elaborate dinners for the estate’s constant stream of guests and residents. In the absence of modern appliances, they recognized pots and pans and stoves, considering the different ways they were used before electricity changed household routines.
Moving into other areas of the house, boys and girls alike were fascinated with the network of bells and wires throughout the house that used to summon servants.  As they explored the house, they searched for the cords in each room.

Traversing a gravel path through the North Garden, they next visited the Dower Townhouse, our administration building, for hands-on learning about the art of silhouette-making, a popular medium for early American portraits. Inspired by the images of America and Columbia Peter that flank the main house Drawing Room, and using a three-dimensional bust of our first President, Artist-in-Residence Peter Waddell demonstrated how to first sketch a profile.
Students drew and discussed the visual angles in various works of art before drawing profiles of George Washington, which they then cut out and placed on elegant white backgrounds. To further adorn their images, Peter taught them about differences in fonts, uses of capital letters, and the origin of serif lettering.

 

Crossing back through the garden, the Pierce-Arrow Garage came next, where guests learned from “Martha Washington” herself how to have still more fun without electricity.  She began with a lesson in dancing, explaining that Georgian-era style valued balance and symmetry. 

       Mrs. Washington also introduced period games requiring no fancy boards, batteries, or sound effects.  Building houses of cards, playing card games, and dominoes were among entertainments our guests had heard of.

 

    Much of what children and families learned on Presidents’ Day encourages a commitment to sustainability. The Girl Scouts will use their new understanding on March 31, when they participate in Earth Hour, a World Wildlife Fund initiative that creates awareness about climate change by asking participants to turn off the lights an hour. Families can also connect with nature and sustainability, in one of the city’s greenest spots during the popular annual Earth Day at Tudor Place, Sunday, April 22. From 1 to 3 p.m., enjoy games, a themed scavenger hunt, and planting seeds from the historic garden in pots you decorate yourself.
Tudor Place offers additional  events for visitors of all ages throughout the year, including educational programs for scouts, school groups, and homeschoolers. Visit us soon!
For still more photos from Presidents’ Day, and to add your comments on the day, see the Facebook album. Good luck with the recipe below, and let us know how it turns out!

Martha Washington’s Great Cake
tweaked for the modern kitchen by curators at Mount Vernon

original
Take 40 eggs and divide the whites from the yolks and beat them to a froth. Then work 4 pounds of butter to a cream and put the whites of eggs to it a Spoon full at a time till it is well work’d. Then put 4 pounds of sugar finely powdered to it in the same manner then put in the Yolks of eggs and 5 pounds of flour and 5 pounds of fruit. 2 hours will bake it. Add to it half an ounce of mace and nutmeg half a pint of wine and some fresh brandy.

modern adaptationsIn making Martha Washington’s famed cake, Mount Vernon’s curatorial staff followed Mrs. Washington’s recipe almost exactly. Where the recipe called for 5 pounds of fruit, without specifying which ones, 2 pounds of raisins, 1 pound of currants, and 2 pounds of apples were used. The wine used was cream sherry. Since no one pan would hold so much batter, it was divided into two 14-inch layers, which were then stacked. (The cake in its original form would have been a single tall layer). These layers were baked in a 350-degree oven for 1.5 hours and iced with a very stiff egg-white-based icing flavored with rosewater or orange-flower water.

“Sleeping Time” and Christmas Memories


Tudor Place Drawing Room,
watercolor by
Armistead Peter 3rd.
by Mandy Katz, Communications Officer

In the folio book on Tudor Place he published  in 1969, Armistead Peter 3rd dwells lovingly on many of the mansion’s objects and features. One of these is the Drawing Room mantel, “which must have been made here,” he writes, “as it is of exactly the same design as the simpler mantels up in the bedrooms.” The Drawing Room version, however, is graced by a special feature, one that called to mind the passage of time.
“I have always particularly liked the carving of Father Time with his broken scythe, sleeping, and giving the feeling that time stands still for those who live in this house,” wrote Armistead, the last of six generations of Custis-Peters who would live here. “It is a charming symbolism. 
Father Time with his broken
scythe, sleeping

“As I stand before this figure of ‘sleeping time’ I think that I should recall some of the things that took place in this room during my lifetime,” he continued. “First of all were my Christmas parties with a splendid tree in the center of the north side of the room. My great-grandmother [Britannia] Kennon was always present, and there is a winged Victorian armchair in the garret on the flat arm of which may be seen the fine lines made by her fingernails as she tapped them quietly while watching the festivities…

“I am happy to say that we had many happy gatherings of our friends in these rooms throughout the years, over which my wife presided with the beauty of one of the little porcelain shepherdesses that might have come to life and slipped out of the cabinet for the occasion. I can still see her in the blue dress that I loved best, sitting on the end of the sofa, waiting for her guests to arrive.”
 I can still see her sitting on the end of the sofa,
waiting for her guests to arrive.
There are many opportunities in the coming month to picture these touching scenes for yourself while making your own holiday memories. Our regular, hourly docent tours show the house dressed for a gay 1920s Christmas that Armistead himself might have presided over with his wife, Caroline, a society beauty who spent much of her childhood in France. The same settings will sparkle by night on December 1, during Tudor Nights, our quarterly, adults-only members’ celebration. (Non-members may attend for $15, space permitting, or are invited to take the occasion to support Tudor Place by joining us.) And guests of all ages can enjoy a tour of one, two, three or four historic houses, all decked for the season, during the “Holidays Through History” open house, 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 3.


Please come see us this winter and reflect for yourself on a place where time “sleeps,” yet never truly stands still.

A Luminous “Harvest” Night at Tudor Place

“Hard” cider — easy to enjoy.

By Mandy Katz, Communications Officer


Nearly 100 guests meandered through our gardens this past balmy Thursday evening for “Hard Cider & the Harvest.”  The twilight romp was the latest in our Tudor Nights series for members and guests.  In the Administration Building, an 1867 Victorian house, guests snacked on tasty small bites including exotic dips, pates, pumpkin truffles, and fanciful “s’mores on sticks.” And of course, there was spiced and spiked cider!  Strolling through the garden to the main house, the focus was on a 20th century object in the collection, a beautiful vase from the world-renowned Rookwood Pottery of Cincinnati.



A mix of neighbors, newcomers and friends were on hand, including members, who attend as our guests.



.

This group from the Capital Striders club found
Tudor Nights perfect for socializing off the running trail.

Lively conversation filled the elegant reception rooms
of our 1867 townhouse.   


Some of our Georgetown neighbors have known us for years. For others,
Tudor Place and Tudor Nights are a new find.

There’s always something to talk about at Tudor Nights, because the surroundings themselves are part of the conversation. 

This quartet enjoyed cider and touring the house as a
“first course,” before their restaurant dinner. 

A few hundred feet away, along the gravel walkway lined with tealights and redolent of boxwood, the main house and its historic offerings beckoned.







Tudor Nights offers a rare
chance to see items from
our collection up close.
Director Leslie Buhler (left) chats witha Tudor Place member and 
Rookwood aficionado.

Inside, talk was informal yet informative, as Executive Director Leslie Buhler and Curator Erin Kuykendall chatted with guests and presented the evening’s “star,” a 1904 Rookwood Pottery vase, in the Saloon — the central foyer, with views of the South Lawn through the famed Temple Portico.

You can see from the golden tones of the naturalistic maple leaves why this baluster-shaped vase was perfect for an autumn event. And its craftsmanship offers a glimpse into an important element of the American Arts and Crafts Movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Founded in 1880 by Maria Longworth Nichols, The Rookwood Pottery Company was the country’s first female-owned pottery manufactory. Nichols hired gifted potters, decorators, and technicians, experimented with glazing techniques, and set high standards of quality. These assets led Rookwood to garner some of the first juried awards in Europe granted to American-made ceramics. The pottery closed in 1967, but has recently been revived under new ownership

Rookwood insignia.

Vases such as this one are typically stamped with Rookwood’s insignia (a reverse R adjoining a P, shown at right), a Roman numeral for the date of creation, and the decorator’s mark incised below. For more information on Rookwood ceramics, see Jeffrey B. Snyder’s Rookwood Pottery (Schiffer, 2005) or Anita J. Elli’s Rookwood Pottery: The Glaze Line (Schiffer, 1995). 


Hard Cider and the Harvest was a great way to usher summer out and welcome the brisker, festive seasons to come. We thank all who attended, and we enjoyed their company. (More photos can be viewed in our Facebook album.) To join us for another romantic and convivial evening, sign up now for the last Tudor Nights of 2011, “Punch Royal and Holiday Trimmings,” on December 2.

Your blogger (center) posed with two good friends who
joined her at Tudor Nights. They were wowed!