Skip to main content

tv   Tudor Place Historic House  CSPAN  May 13, 2017 10:00am-10:36am EDT

10:00 am
know, aike -- you lifetime of treatment is preferable to a cure. i'm not saying for a second anyone really thinks that. but that is where market forces put you right now. words" sundayr night at 9 p.m. >> each week, "american american" takes you to places. was the home of thomas peter and his wife martha parke custis peter, granddaughter of martha washington. six generations of the peter family lived in the house until 1984. we take a tour with the curator, who shows us a letter from george washington, a bomb shelter, and a signed photo of woodrow wilson.
10:01 am
grant: hi, i am the curator at tudor house and historic garden and we will take a look at some of the amazing objects we have in our collection. tudor place was home to the peter family from 1805 until 1983, five different generations lived here. it was the wishes of the last owner that the house become a museum so that the public could enjoy the amazing collection of objects. i want to talk about the architecture. when thomas and martha peter purchased the house it was eight and a half acres and only the two end wings were here with nothing in between.
10:02 am
the owner originally planned to add more to the house but never did. they started talking with their friend, a doctor and amateur architect, about designing a grand house for them. he designed the octagon house in washington. he incorporated the two wings and a center block of the house into a five-part house, and architectural style very typical in the chesapeake and they 18th and 19th century. the key is the domed portico. and a marble floor. thornton made the temple portico come into the superstructure of the house with this wall of floor to ceiling windows. the temple portico or the transition between the interior places of the house and exterior places of the lawn. the inspirations were classic goals -- classic buildings.
10:03 am
that is a brief architectural overview of the house. the other thing i want to talk about is the peter family's connection to george and martha washington. these are the very public rooms of the house where the family entertained. one notable visitor was the marquis de lafayette. he had met peter as a young girl and it was a reunion for them to see each other during the 1824 visit. across this wall, is an engraving of george washington. this is one that martha washington left to martha peter in her will. she noted it previously hung and the passage at mount vernon and was a gift from the artist john trumbull. the engraving as one of the portraits of washington. the peter family kept both
10:04 am
engravings in the drawing room hanging across from each other. after martha washington's death, peter and martha -- thomas and martha attended an auction. one of the items was this punch bowl. it is chinese export porcelain, and what is interesting is this seat on the interior is taken from an english press source of a foxhunting scene, where is the exterior depicts chinese rice cultivation. thomas and martha's daughter tells us this punch bowl was used at tudor place to serve apple toddy, a spiced apple cider with rum and spices. and lots of alcohol. shall still tells us a congressman came here to one of their parties and drank too
10:05 am
much, and apparently made a spectacle of himself but she does not tell us which one. thomas and martha peter were very ardent federalists and they named their three daughters columbia, america, and britannia. as part of our tour today i have pulled some significant washington items right across in the parlor, so let's take a walk and look at those items. when thomas and martha peter were married in 1795, george washington asked martha what she wanted as a wedding present and she replied a likeness of him. washington had the artist walter roberts paint this portrait miniature of him, a piece that martha treasured for the rest of
10:06 am
her life. in 1812 description said she was wearing a portrait miniature of general washington as large as a warming pan to a ball in washington. we have a together a type image of martha -- deguerrotpe of her holding it. the other item we have is a letter, one of three surviving documents from george to martha washington. this letter and another were found in martha washington's writing desk when martha peter owned it. it is the letter from june 1775 where george tells martha he has been given command of the continental army. he is riding from philadelphia and tells her she must proceed immediately to boston. it is such a significant document, because martha washington burned all of the correspondence between she and her husband after his death because she felt like that was one aspect of their public relationship that could remain private. this is very much a treasured
10:07 am
item in our collection. one of the other washington objects i wanted to highlight is this stool. it is one of two surviving camp stools he used in his tent during the american revolution, a significant object with great ties to our country's history. i want to talk about britannia peter. born in 1815, britannia was a longtime owner of tudor place. in 1842 she married commodore beverly kennett. you can see his picture on the table. commodore cannon was commandant of the washington naval yard. unfortunately they were only married 14 months before he was tragically killed on the explosion aboard the princeton.
10:08 am
this engraving on the wall illustrates that tragic scene on fabric 28, 1844. they were to -- february 28, 1844. they were demonstrating a gun aboard the princeton and it backfired and exploded, sending shrapnel and what everywhere. the secretary of state and the secretary of the navy were also killed. president tyler was below deck and spared. britannia at 29 years old was a widow and she came back to tudor place and lift for the next --
10:09 am
lived for the next 67 years. here is a picture of her with her daughter. we have an image of britannia much later in life's, a fascinating person. during the civil war she turned tudor place into a boarding house to prevent the house from being seized as a hospital. her southern leanings were no secret. she was a cousin by marriage to robert e lee, and she was a member of their wedding party. she had a number of family fighting for the confederates but most at her tudor house were union officers. in the late 19th century she became a celebrity of sorts as the living great-granddaughter of martha washington. it is amazing how britannia
10:10 am
stewart and this collection of objects -- stewarded this collection of objects she received from her grandmother and grandfather. when lafayette would visit, she was a nine-year-old girl and she wrote all these reminiscences down. it is fascinating historic rhetoric and key evidence for us at tudor place. when britannia died in 1911, the estate and the house was divided amongst her five grandchildren. she died on the eve of her 96th birthday in january 1911. she outlived both her daughter and son-in-law. britannia wanted to ensure that everything was divided equally among her grandchildren so the contents of the house were inventoried. a paper inventory was done and every object got a paper label. you can see a number label on this small cup, and everything with a washington history got a mount vernon label. you can see many of these objects still have paper labels on them and it is an interesting
10:11 am
part of their history as well. the thing to remember about a historic house like tudor place is changes over time. we are going to step into the dining room, originally a bedchamber. this was thomas and martha peter's bedchamber, and a fascinating story related to this space is on the evening that the british burned washington in 1814, miss peter and on arena thornton stood at the window and looked out, and they could see the smoke and fire from the white house burning, from the naval yard
10:12 am
burning across the city. mrs. thornton wrote about it in her diary. thanks to her diary, we know the two women stood here and watched washington burn. martha peter was pregnant with britannia at the time. she was born about four months later. now if we can look at the dining table, presently it is focused with a number of objects that thomas and martha peter purchased at the 1802 mount vernon sale. you see a number of plates and tableware have those stickers on them, mount vernon as well as the numbers. the plates, the plateau, the glassware, all of these are pieces that came for mount vernon and were used at tudor place by the peter family. after britannia's death in 1911, her grandson purchased his siblings' share to purchase the home outright. he and his home -- wife modernized the home, adding electricity, telephones, and a steam radiator system. the office was a space that armistead peter junior and his son used as an office. the office is also a great place to highlight some of the art in the collection, and a number of engravings.
10:13 am
you see henry clay, who was a fee -- frequent visitor. president woodrow wilson, an interesting story about that engraving. armistead peter wanted the president to sign it so he sent it to the white house. you probably noticed the extension cord off the chandelier. armistead peter the third recognized that his story of the house and did not want to tear up walls to put an additional electric outlet in, so he had an extension cord run off the chandelier. the desk in the office is a colonial revival copy of the desk george washington used as president in new york city. that is another connection the
10:14 am
family was making to their relationship to george and martha washington. the office is really a time capsule as well and shows how the family really kept everything in the house. as i mentioned, armistead junior -- armistead peter junior and his wife modernized the house. here is one of the original telephones and it was actually an intercom system. next to it is a rotary dial telephone from the 1960's. we are going to go from the office into what is more the servants' area of the house, and the corridors used by the servants. the backhaul is typically a servant area, and you can see the hall belts -- bills hanging --bells hanging on the wall. servants would know which room a family member was calling them from. this system became obsolete when the house got electricity in 1913 and 1914, so let's step into the servants' sitting room and look at the system that replaced it. on the wall you see the call blocks -- call box and enunciate or.
10:15 am
e --nunciator. this box would buzz and the arrow would swing, indicating which room a family member was in. this room was typically furnished, the servants' sitting room or they would wait upon for being called on or do tasks. it is the perfect example of one of our preservation projects in action. in the next couple of days we are going to be removing, you see a number of the paint on the wall is flaking off due to some plaster that needs to be repaired. the plant -- paint will be repaired, the plaster redone, and the room repainted. the tudor houses over 200 years old and requires careful maintenance and upkeep. a great example of the ongoing preservation we are doing here. here in the servants' sitting room i want to talk about domestic servants. i want to tell the story of the enslaved domestic workers as well as servants at the family
10:16 am
had here at tudor place, and we are fortunate to have photographs of a number of those people, thanks in part to armistead junior -- armistead peter junior's interest in photography. a number of these people as well as images of them. one especially interesting story at tudor place is john luckett, the gardener for over 40 years. he was an escaped slave from
10:17 am
virginia who happened to be walking down the street and asked britannia if she needed help. she said she was looking for someone to work in the garden and he worked here for over 40 years. in addition to being the gardener, he took britannia's grandsons hunting and fishing. he knew the best places to go, and we are fortunate to our extensive archives to have a number of photographs of john with the family, including this image with thomas armistead peter. we are going to go into the butler's pantry where the china and dinnerware would be stored. when armistead peter junior added the radiator, the radiator here is a combination plate warmer.
10:18 am
mail service was done in the russian style, which meant many different plates for many different courses because they would come out separately. the butler's pantry is also a good place to look at the large collection of tableware, pieces with over 15 patterns. a number of them are the pieces that were inherited from family members and acquired because of his interest in porcelain. now we are going to go upstairs and look at some of the bed chambers. as we're coming upstairs we are in the upper stair hall and i want to focus on an amazing object, this just on chest. this is another people -- chest on chest. what is especially interesting is george washington purchased at secondhand. it was made for george william fairfax in london in 1760 and washington purchased it at a sale at belvoir, fairfax is estate. now we can take a look into the
10:19 am
master bedchamber. right now you see the bedchamber largely furnished as the last owner remembered it when his great-grandmother britannia used it with a number of family photographs of the various family members. when armistead peter junior modernize the house in 1913 and 1914 they added modern bathrooms so for the master chamber they took a dressing room and made it into a bathroom. this is a good opportunity to see the original plumbing fixtures in the bathroom, including a toilet with a mahogany tank and toilet seat.
10:20 am
one of the things that makes tudor place in a is a large archive. in addition to the 15,000 objects we have we have a quarter million manuscript pages and photographs that inventories these things and gives us an idea of how the family used these rooms in the house. this helps says when we are furnishing these spaces, to have the record of how they look, what pieces of furniture were in them. it is also due to the archive that we learned about the family, where they were traveling and what they did in their spare time because they kept so many pieces of paper and objects to give us insight into their past. some of the photographs and images i wanted to talk about on the table, we have britannia's granddaughter agnes peter taken about 1900 and her armistead peter the third with his wife caroline on their wedding day, february 14, 1921. next to that is an image during the second world war. armistead peter the third was a officer and his wife volunteered for the red cross. armistead peter the third inherited the house and he is
10:21 am
really the one who set things in motion for tudor place to become the museum it is today. he created the foundation that operates tudor place as a historic house because he recognizes the significance of the house and the collection, and wanted to share it with the public. we use the inventories and photographs of these rooms that we have in the archives to furnish the spaces. if a family member were to walk in today, they would recognize where things were placed. let's walk across the hall and talk a little more about the civil war. britannia rented out rooms to borders during the civil war and she was a cousin by marriage to robert e. lee. lee stayed here at to her place when he came back to washington
10:22 am
to meet with general grant, when grant was president. during the civil war, britannia had a number of family members who were fighting for both sides. one story that is especially interesting is the story of william williams and his cousin. we walk over here to see an image of them in their confederate uniforms. williams was in the union army for a time and was on general winfield scott's staff but was suspected, because of the close family relationship with the ladies, of --lees, of ferrying information to them and was jailed. then he joined the confederate army. they are down in tennessee, wearing union uniforms riding into a union for and franklin, tennessee and say they are here to inspect the fortification.
10:23 am
the commanding officer is a little suspicious but let's them complete their inspection. after they leave and someone realizes they are imposter's so they are captured and questioned. they admit they are both confederate soldiers. the commanding officer of the fort commands a court-martial, they are tried and sentenced to be hanged the next morning. they are hanged in tennessee in the summer of 1863 and after the war, dr. armistead peter actually arranges to have their bodies brought back to georgetown and buried in the family plot. before the bodies are re-buried he keeps their spurs so we have both sets here with a tag that outlines their history. a very interesting object there related to the civil war, and talks about how the family was
10:24 am
affected. in the 20th century this room was used by armistead peter the thirds wife as her morning room. he said he always wanted this room to remain the way it was when she used it. you can see her desk where she would complete her correspondence and take care of business matters. we can look in the closet where we have a number of her pieces of clothing exhibited. we are fortunate to have a large textile collection, with everything ranging from textiles related to martian -- martha washington all the way to couture pieces belonging to caroline peter. this is a place to talk about all of the generations of children that grow here, and we have toys reflecting that from dolls to airplanes. armistead peter the third used
10:25 am
this bedroom as a young boy. here's a portrait of him over the mantle. a great room with lots of history, and a number of generations of children grew up here. a great space. i will step out into the hall. a great image to end our discussion of the upstairs with is this image showing britannia with her great-grandson. we have britannia, martha washington's great-granddaughter with her great-grandson, armistead peter the third. think about all of those generations right out there on the garden pathway. what is fantastic is you can see britannia in this wheelchair, we have the very wheelchair in our collection that she is sitting in, in the photo with that
10:26 am
blanket draped over her lap. britannia and armistead peter the third did the most to preserve and protect tudor place. britannia stewarding the house and ensuring the preservation, and armistead peter the third for creating the foundation to operate the house as a museum so the public could experience this amazing house and collection. the other thing that is fascinating as we can tell the family's story from the american revolution to the cold war's now we're going into the garage. on our five and a half anchor desk acre property -- acre property we have the oldest smokehouse in the district of columbia. in 1913 the peter family built the garage. we have got what is probably our
10:27 am
largest artifact in the collection, the 1919 pierce roadster the longing to armistead peter the third. his parents bought it for him and what is interesting is a number of elements are customized. armistead peter the third was 6'2" so the steering column was adjusted to account for his height. one of my favorite things about the car is it has got his monogram on the door. armistead peter the third loved this car and kept it for the rest of his life. he had extensively restored in the 1970's and could be seen driving it around georgetown. we have a great photo from our archive showing armistead peter the third sitting at the wheel of the car. so the garage was built in 1913,
10:28 am
1914, at the part of the garage we are standing in was added in 1968. the most interesting part is what is beneath our feet, the bomb shelter. we are now under that 1968 garage addition and walking into what was the bomb shelter. the last owner of tudor place was a veteran of the first world war serving in the naval reserves and the second world war in the pacific. he was in the pacific at the time of the atomic bomb so by the 1960's, some of the cold war things, you can see why he would want to have a bomb shelter. he was a couple of miles from a number of buildings that were likely target so he wanted to have a shoulder that would protect from bomb blasts and nuclear fallout, radioactive particles in the air.
10:29 am
it is a fascinating space, originally constructed to hold 12 people. we will walk into the shelter briefly and look at the storage tank. we are in the nucleus of the shelter, the space we use as storage. you can see some of armistead peter the third's radio equipment on the shelves. that is going to be installed into a radio room into the main house. the shelter, as i said, was designed for 12 people to live in and the thought was that after 48 hours the radioactive fallout would have diminished enough that people could come out of the inner shelter and use some of the outer rooms. let's walk out and look at some of the systems in place to use we have got, here to my left,
10:30 am
three, very large, 400-gallon water tanks used for holding fresh water for use in the shelter. there is actually a pump right here next to them, and by using that pump, you could draw water into a tank overhead in the ceiling, and that overhead tank actually powers an adjacent bathroom. it uses gravity on that tank to use the shower and make the toilet flushable. another interesting aspect of this bomb shelter is this small kitchenette is hidden behind a panel here. you have a sink, stove, and range that could be used when people are staying here in the bomb shelter. the other interesting thing is the escape tunnel. we are going to now walk over here past the water tanks into the tunnel. the tunnel actually has a dual purpose. these are steam pipes that go to the radiators in the house. but it was also a tunnel that could be used enter or leave the
10:31 am
bomb shelter. the tunnel actually comes out between halfway between here and the house in the garden, so we will go outside in a moment and see the hatch where the tunnel ends. so we are now standing outside in the garden, and you can see that is the hatch where the title ends where we were in a moment ago. is anmb shelter interesting place of tudor place's history, and it will help tell the story of the family from the american revolution to the cold war. it is a portion of the garage we will be opening for interpretation in the future, a project i very excited about. chance todayhad a to see a portion of our collection, so i hope you will come take a tour and experience the house. we are constantly highlighting objects from our extensive 15,000 object collection, as well as from our archives through the furnished space of the house as well as exhibits. >> you can watch this and other
10:32 am
american artifacts programs by visiting our website at c-span.org/history. on american history tv on c-span 3, today at 6:00 p.m. eastern, author and theorian c.r. gibbs on black women who work as nurses, soldiers, and spies for the union army. >> christiana bannister was the wife of edward and mr., one of the leading african-american artists. she became involved on the underground railroad. consistentroud and supporter of the u.s. colored troops. at 8:00, university of washington professor margaret o'mara on the 1968 election. >> hero after hero are slain. king, john f
10:33 am
kennedy and robert kennedy's assassination. it has been the democratic nomination into more turmoil. >> sunday at 2:00, lynne cheney, who wrote "james madison: a life reconsidered." this moment marks president john f. kennedy's 100th birthday. sunday, we reflect on the life and career of the 35th president. >> he was a decorated combat veteran. he believed in strong military. but he had a much broader conception about what american identity really was. >> he reached across the aisle. onlaunched the peace corps the first of 1961.
10:34 am
he started the alliance for progress. he engaged in the space race. >> for the complete american history tv schedule, go to c-span.org. sunday on "q&a," the comparisons between donald trump and andrew jackson. book, "andrewis jackson, southerner." >> he does not represent the positive values that andrew .ackson represented he certainly represent some of the negative values jackson represented. if trump wants to be like andrew jackson, he has to put nation in front of his own personhood, it in front of his own family, in front of his own interests. because that is what jackson did most of his life. "q&a" at 8:00t on
10:35 am
eastern. authors larrie ferreiro and francois furstenberg talked about french and spanish involvement in the american revolution, arguing colonial forces could not withstand the british army without french and spanish weaponry, money, and soldiers. they also talk about the repercussions of french assistance, which ballooned their debt, contributed to the french revolution in 1789, and later factored into the sale of french louisiana to the u.s. the national archives in washington, d.c. hosted this hour and 20 minute event. >> americans advocating separation from great britain knew they had to have the backing of a major european power. and not just moral support but material in the form of money, supplies, and men. england's ancient rivals, france and spain, were the natural places to turn. from the earliest days of the

19 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on