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

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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