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Authored by:

Susan A. Borchardt

Mickey Crowell

Ellen K. Donald

Barbara A. Farner

Dedicated to:

Mrs. Lammot du Pont Copeland
Honorary First Regent
who identified the need

The Chairmen of the Research Committee:
Mrs. John W. Wieder, Jr.

who had the vision to begin

Mrs. William G. Lockwood, Jr.
whose inspiration and support
saw us to the finish line


to the memory of
Susan J. Murphy
Research Colleague and Friend


The Gunston Hall Room Use Study is the culmination of many years of effort. The support and assistance of many individuals who believed in the importance of the work and who generously shared their knowledge, insights, and enthusiasm for the material culture of the 18th- century was essential to its realization.

First and foremost, this work would not have been possible without continued encouragement and funding from the entire Gunston Hall Board of Regents, who believed in the process and were willing to give the authors the time to bring the work to fruition. In particular, the authors would like to thank the following committee chairmen, Mrs. William G. Lockwood, Jr., Research, and Mrs. Dudley J. Godfrey, Jr., Collections, for their ardent and unwavering interest and support.

The authors and Gunston Hall Plantation would also like to express their appreciation to members of the Mason family. Over the years, they have generously answered queries about Mason documents and furnishings, allowed them to be examined and photographed, and in some cases returned them to Gunston Hall where they enrich the interpretation of George Mason's life.

Special thanks also go to Dick Farner, who developed the structure of the data and the software program upon which the Gunston Hall Probate Inventory Database is built. This logical person was completely capable of taking our illogical, syntax deficient, "what if" questions and making sense of them. His willingness to tweak and adjust the program as necessary and his ongoing involvement in Gunston Hall's efforts to make this amazing resource available to the larger scholarly community put his contributions to this report in a class by themselves.

The impetus for the Room Use Report had its origin in the architectural and paint research undertaken by Charles Phillips, the late Paul Buchanan, and Frank S. Welch. These three answered innumerable questions and time and again turned their minds to the architectural puzzles of Gunston Hall. Their knowledge and acumen in interpreting the physical evidence resulted in a new understanding of George Mason's house.

Also instrumental to the project were Mark R. Wenger, who joining Charles Phillips in the physical investigation of Gunston Hall after the sad loss of Paul Buchanan, was more than generous in sharing his broad grasp of domestic architecture in 18th-century Virginia. Wenger, along with Willie Graham and Carl Lounsbury fellow architectural historians at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, provided important insights, information, and suggestions of leads to follow. We are also most grateful to Tim Coldren of Monroe Coldren Antiques and Bryan Blundell and Mark Clark of the Dell Corporation who assisted the Room Use team in addressing the impact of the physical evidence found in the house in its interpretation of the house.

A special debt is due to E. Charles Beyer who generously contributed many hours of research assistance on the meaning and form of beaufats and the possible existence of a stove in the center passage of Gunston Hall during George Mason's lifetime. His intellectual curiosity and probing questions added immensely to this work.

It is fair to say that this report would not be the document it is today without the generous gift of time and knowledge of numerous members, present and past, of the staff of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Ron Hurst, Chief Curator and Vice-President for Collections, and Museums and Betty Leviner, retired Curator of Exhibition Buildings, deserve special acknowledgment for their willingness to be part of a lengthy, ongoing dialogue about numerous issues and questions raised in the course of the research. Also of immense help were John Austin, Retired Senior Curator and Curator of Ceramics and Glass; Linda Baumgarten, Curator of Textile Collections and Costumes; Laura Pass Barry, Assistant Curator of Maps, Prints, and Wallpapers; John D. Davis, Senior Curator and Curator of Metals; Patricia Gibbs, Historian; Harold Gill, retired Historian; F. Carey Howlett, Director of Conservation; John Hyman, Research Associate, Department of Collections; Jennifer Jones, Historian; Martha Katz-Hyman, Associate Curator of Metals and Mechanical Arts; Ann Smart Martin, former Historian; Margaret Pritchard, Curator of Maps, Prints, and Wallpaper; Jonathan Prown, Curator of Furniture and Sculpture; and Janine Skerry, Curator of Ceramics and Glass.

A wealth of knowledge about 18th-century life, culture, and customs was shared with us by a wide array of scholars including Luke Beckerdite, former Executive Director, Chipstone Foundation; John Bivins, independent scholar; Bennie Brown, independent scholar;

Karin Calvert, Director of the Delta Teachers Academy, The National Faculty; Barbara Carson, George Washington University and The College of William and Mary; Susan Clark, Fairfax County Park Authority; Lyn Gardner, Mariners Museum; Ian Gow, Curator of the Architectural Collections of the National Monuments Record at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland; Patricia Halfpenny, Director of Museum Collections, Winterthur Museum; Robert T. Hawkes, Jr., Department of History, George Mason University; Susan K. Helmann, Maryland National Capitol Parks and Planning Commission; Charles Hummel, Professor Emeritus, Winterthur Museum; Dwight Lanmon, Director and Chief Executive Officer, Winterthur Museum; Robert Leath, Historic Charleston Foundation; Barbara McMillan, Librarian, Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union; Christine Meadows, retired Curator, Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union; Jeanne Niccolls, Fairfax County Park Authority; Stacia Norman, Curator, Kenmore; Stephen Patrick, Belair Mansion; Carol A. Petravage, National Park Service; Robert Pugh, Francis Marion University; Brad Rauschenberg, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts; John Riley, former Historian, Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union; Roy Rosenzweig, Department of History, George Mason University; Tom Savage, Vice President and Director Sotheby's Institute; Edith Sprouse, independent scholar; Robert Trent, independent scholar; Nancy Tuckhorn, Curator of Textiles, Daughters of the American Revolution Museum; and Camille Wells, Director of Research, Monticello.

Many hours of research work were made easier and more productive through the assistance of numerous staff members at the following institutions: Alexandria Library Special Collections at Lloyd House, particularly former head librarian Yvonne Carrignan; Charles County Historical Society; The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, especially former Director John Ingram and current Director Susan Berg; Duke University, William R. Perkins Library, Special Collections Department; Fredericksburg General Court District, especially Barry Magee; George Mason University, Fenwick Library, Periodical and Microforms Division; Georgetown University, Special Collections & Archives; Library of Congress Manuscript Division Reading Room; Library of Virginia Archives Research Room, particularly Minor T. Weisiger; Maryland Historical Society Library, particularly Eleanor Darcey; Maryland State Archives; Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Research Center; Southern Maryland Studies Center, Charles County Community College, particularly Sarah L. Barley; Virginia Historical Society Library, Manuscripts and Archives Department, especially Frances Pollard and E. Lee Shepard; Winterthur Museum Library, particularly Neville Thompson, National Endowment for the Humanities Librarian, Bert Denker, Librarian in Charge, Visual Resources, and Richard McKinstry, Andrew W. Mellon Librarian; and the Yale Center for British Art, Yale University.

Much valuable documentary evidence was uncovered through the research of Hollins

College Intern Kate Burke and George Mason University Fellows: Randy Bixby, Anne Eales, Phil Gratwick, Meg Ventrudo, Carol Wenger, and Lynne Zeeger.

For their particular help in tracking tack holes in the Great Parlor and the Dining Room, our knee-pad award and many thanks go to graduate students Keir Froberg of George Mason University and Jeffrey Hamilton of The University of Virginia and their recorders, Lauren Bisbee and Peggy Martz.

The authors would especially like to express our appreciation to our colleagues on the Gunston Hall Staff. Special thanks go to former Director Donald R. Taylor and current Director Thomas A. Lainhoff whose commitment to the project and excitement about the potential it holds for bringing greater accuracy to Gunston Hall's interpretation were of inestimable value as their encouragement, suggestions, and patience. The team particularly want to thank Anne H. Baker, former Librarian and Archivist, and Kevin Shupe, current Librarian and Archivist. Our slightest wish for new or old references, even at times without a known title, was continuously met with grace and calm. Likewise, we relied on the good offices of Genealogist Genevieve N. Jones and Archival Assistant Caryl Wisler for their knowledge, persistence, and kind attention. They provided, at times even resurrected, a wealth of information about the Mason family and their belongings and the history of Gunston Hall. We are grateful for the unflagging enthusiasm, intelligent questions, and excellent insights of Education Coordinator Denise McHugh and Education Assistant Linda Hartman, who along with Kevin Shupe, Kathy van Orden, and Lena McAllister provided proofreading services. To the latter we also owe a debt of gratitude for her unfailing kindness and accuracy in all matters pertaining to the paperwork, accounting, and personnel services that the project required. Ross Randall, Deputy Director for Public Relations and Development, promoted the value of the project as well as raising funds to support the ongoing architectural research.

Whenever the call came Superintendent Charles Sims, Maintenance Assistant Joe Milligan, and Grounds Supervisor Leo Klaes provided assistance with the many facets of the architectural research and restoration. Receptionists Moe Coffee, Pat Nyland, Milly Showers, and former Receptionists Josephine Agresto and Peggy Martz fielded a host of incoming calls and messages from the team members as well as from outside scholars. By beginning the research necessary to discover the entire landscape of George Mason's plantation former Horticulturists Will Meyer and Archaeologists Andrew Veech and Dave Shonyo, and now current Horticulturist Denis Gray have contributed a new view and set a path for future research and new understandings. In brief, all of the Gunston Hall staff, mentioned here by name or not, were enormously supportive over the course of the project.

Two larger groups of staff deserve special recognition for their passion to Gunston Hall and their endorsement of the team's work. They are Gunston Hall's Historical Interpreters and the members of the Gunston Hall Docents' Association. Not only have the interpreters and docents shown intense interest in the research, but they have kept the authors on their toes by raising pertinent questions and concerns.

While it is almost cliched to thank one's family in acknowledgments, it is true that without the deep foundation of support offered by our spouses, Bruce Borchardt, Ray Crowell, Tony Donald, and Dick Farner, we, if not the project, would have collapsed long ago. Collectively, they have shown abiding patience and encouragement. Along the way they have offered advice, volunteer services of all sorts, concern, and love. To them we owe an overwhelming debt of thanks.

© Gunston Hall Plantation 2002