Spring-ing into April

The month of March was an eventful one here at Stratford. Not only did we have daily temperatures span from 20 degrees to 70 degrees in just one day, we also experienced a tornado warning! The tornado narrowly missed Stratford, but the strong winds, torrential rain, and hail did do some damage on our property. Even though the tornado passed through in less than 10 minutes, multiple trees fell down due to the wind and rain, and one even fell on our Council House roof! ... Read More »

Big Brother is watching out for you….

... Read More »

Espionage in the American Revolution

While spying or espionage seems to be a popular news item today, it is by no means new. Thousands of years ago the Roman Spartans were sending secret messages by “scytale,” a coded message on a strip of leather which was decoded by wrapping it around a stick and reading it. During the American Revolution 10% of the war effort was allocated to intelligence. Tory and patriot agents were employed—lured by gold pay. Such tricks as deception or disinformation to fool the British about Colonial plans were common. Campers in Stratford’s Grandparent/Grandchild summer camps will explore this fascinating subject, along with ... Read More »

Robert E. Lee and the art world intersect

Spending five days a week immersed in a family like the Lees is amazing, but sometimes a break is needed. That is the reason some museum employees (myself included) do not visit museums on the weekends all that often. A little separation at times is in order. For that reason, I always have two books going at the same time. One is my research for work and another on something completely unrelated. Recently I read Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters by Elizabeth Brown Pryor and The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade ... Read More »

Celebrating a Lee “President”

... Read More »

A Romantic Gesture

One of the sweetest narratives relating to the museum collection at Stratford Hall involves a wedding ring that once belonged to Anne Fenton Lee. Daniel Carroll Brent married Anne at Stratford Hall on January 3, 1782. On that day, he gave her a rather elegantly simple gold band engraved with an inscription…“To heaven & thee I’ll faithful be.”' Indeed, this ring was special. So much so that it took on a history of its own. In fact, the ring was lost in the Potomac River for several years, recovered, and returned ... Read More »

Slave Life in America

The study of American slavery has undergone hundreds of years of analysis and change. This great stigma is now interpreted as a disgrace on the landscape of American History. This was not always the case. Although historians have engaged in great deal of scholarly debate over many years, the consensus of this “peculiar institution” has changed. The older argument that slaves were a racially inferior, rootless, but happy group of people has been destroyed. The history of slavery is now seen in a decidedly different light. Although some slaves- ... Read More »

Colonial Highways: Virginia Rivers as Trade Routes

Legend has it that the Native American name for the Potomac River is ‘place where people trade.’ It is this trade that made Thomas Lee and his son, Phillip, very wealthy in colonial Virginia. The fastest and cheapest way to send large quantities of materials was by ship, so having access to navigable waters was key for large plantation owners and businesses. When Thomas Lee first bought the land-from Nathanial Pope- that would become Stratford Hall in 1718, the shoreline was predominantly steep cliffs and he only had a site for a small landing. In 1743, Thomas Lee bought the property ... Read More »

Non Incautus Futuri

As winter has set in on the Northern Neck, we are reminded of the squirrel on the Lee family crest and the motto, “Non Incautus Futuri,” or be not unmindful of the future. Whether you celebrated National Squirrel Appreciation Day on Tuesday, or you ran cursing after a squirrel raiding the birdfeeder in a snow storm on that day as I did, the squirrel and the motto remain just as relevant as it was in the Lees’ time. Be not unmindful of the future. It is certainly a ... Read More »

Washington Winter Show Recap

This past weekend Stratford Hall was featured as the loan exhibit at the Washington Winter Show. Well, after a whirlwind week of transporting, unpacking, installing, and then de-installing, re-packing, and transporting again, we are now back at our desks. The exhibit, Celebrations at Stratford Hall: Family, Food, and Festivities, was a great success in our minds. We showcased some wonderful Lee family objects that rarely are on view and also teamed up with private Lee family members as well as sister institutions (Arlington House and the Lee Chapel Collection at Washington & Lee University) to bring other Lee family objects ... Read More »
Older posts »