On rare occasions, Historic Kenmore offers special behind-the-scenes tours that take visitors into portions of the home not usually open to the public during regular tours. Additionally, Meghan Budinger, Aldrich Director of Curatorial Operations, leads the tour and shares her expert insights and knowledge into the mansion’s history, furnishing, and ongoing preservation. This past weekend, visitors once again got to go behind-the-scenes!
Visitors prepare to go inside Historic Kenmore.
The tour included familiar rooms like the master bedchamber.
Visitors entered spaces not usually open to regular tours. Enslaved people used this narrow passage to travel between the bedchamber, where Betty Washington Lewis ran the household, to the dining room and outdoor kitchen.
The slave passage features original paint and wallpaper. A message in chalk orders staff and future preservationists to save the 240-year-old wallpaper in place.
Meghan explained how archaeological excavations informed the choices of 18th century ceramics displayed on the dining room table.
The group visited the cellar that was used as storage during the Lewis’s days. Educational programs for visiting field trips take place, in part, in this space today.
Visitors in the attic heard about how dendrochronology, the dating of timber using tree rings, helped determine that Kenmore was built between 1770 and 1775.
In the attic there is a rowing scull left behind by late 19th century resident William Key Howard, Jr., who also repaired the house’s plaster ceilings after extensive damage during the Civil War.
Leaving the attic down a narrow staircase.
Descending a winding, narrow staircase into the underground HVAC control room.
Inside the geothermal HVAC ‘vault’, visitors learned how 21st century technology preserves and protects an 18th century home and its artifacts.