“The Greatest Natural & National Curiosity in the World”: Joice Heth, P.T. Barnum, and …George Washington?

Most of us have heard of Phineas Taylor “P.T.” Barnum, founder of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. During his life, P.T. Barnum was a businessman and politician but was most famously known for being an entertainer. His name became synonymous with circuses, sideshows, and showmanship. Before he introduced bearded ladies and 800-lb … Continue reading “The Greatest Natural & National Curiosity in the World”: Joice Heth, P.T. Barnum, and …George Washington?

The Legend of Mary Washington and the Deadly Lightning Strike

Originally, this post was going to explore colonial America’s fear and fascination with lightning and the practical tools created to help prevent destructive lightning damage.  During my research, however, I encountered a tale about Mary Ball Washington and a close encounter with lightning that supposedly traumatized her for the rest of her life.  If true, … Continue reading The Legend of Mary Washington and the Deadly Lightning Strike

I Cannot Tell a Lie But I Can Tell a Fable: Aesop’s Fables and the Cherry Tree Tale

If you’ve been to Historic Kenmore, you’ve likely been awestruck at the beauty of the plaster ceilings throughout the first floor. Although the identity of “The Stucco Man” is lost to history, he left behind a lesson above the fireplace in the Dining Room. The plaster work inlay there depicts several stories from Aesop’s fables, … Continue reading I Cannot Tell a Lie But I Can Tell a Fable: Aesop’s Fables and the Cherry Tree Tale

Getting “Judgy” With Colonial Revival Ceramics

Previously on Lives and Legacies, curator Meghan Budinger laid out a wonderful summary of the Colonial Revival movement.  At no point did she weigh-in with her opinion of Colonial Revival and she should be applauded for her diplomacy.  To be honest, though, many historians, material culture specialists, and decorative arts enthusiasts (among others) can get … Continue reading Getting “Judgy” With Colonial Revival Ceramics