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 to the public.
Following the death of Elizabeth McCarty Storke in 1879, the estate was divided between her great-nephews, Charles E. and Richard H. Stuart. The main house became the property of Richard, who lived at Stratford with his family. Charles Stuart, the son of Richard and last private owner of Stratford, sold the property to the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation in 1929. Along with the house came a handful of original objects that date to the Lee family occupancy. Pot hooks were valuable at a time before gas or electric stoves and this tool was likely used by enslaved cooks in the Stratford kitchen to lift large pots from the fire.
This delicate infant’s gown has a family history of being the christening gown for the Lee family. The gown features exquisite embroidered decoration along the body and hem, as well as puffed cap sleeves fashionable in the early 19th century. Although usually in storage for preservation reasons, the gown has been recently conserved and is on special short-term view for the Washington Winter Show.
This collection of sheet music bound in modern black quarter-leather binding with red cloth belonged to Mary Randolph Custis Lee. On the flyleaf is a penciled inscription by Mary Custis Lee: “I send this old music book of mine for any one who plays the piano. Aunt Lucy does I know & I think Katherine’s girls are also musical. Mary Custis Lee.” Parts of some signatures were cut off when the music was trimmed for its initial binding. Some individual sheet music selections
This exhibit was made possible thanks to generous support from the following: are signed “M C Lee” in top corner; others “M C Lee from her Cousin Markie [Martha Custis Williams]” or “M C W.” Souvenir d’Ole Bull is signed and dated “M C Lee March 1847.” The bound volume includes The Arlington Waltzes, composed & dedicated…to George Washington Park Custis, Esq. (Mary Custis Lee’s father) by John H. Hewitt, Baltimore, 1845.
Flather & Perkins, Inc.
Mr. and Mrs. James J. Lee
The Society of the Lees of Virginia
The 2014 Washington Winter Show
-Gretchen Goodell Pendleton, Curator