Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New YahooGroup for Historic Interpreters

I said in my post about Adena that I would get back to the idea of interpreters sharing with one another. Well, I am.

I have joined many lists online, but most historic ones are dedicated to reenactors. While these are wonderful people with their own range of interests and ideas, there is a difference between reenacting and interpreting. The problems you encounter when dealing with the public on a daily basis while working in a historic house or at a historic site are unique to the 'breed'. I have created a YahooGroup list where interpreters can 'virtually' hang out and share about just about anything.

Though the list has 19thc in its title, that can be regarded as only its main focus. Interpreting history - any century - has the same problems and joys: how do you handle the public, how do you communicate history in an interesting way to the thousands of school kids you see, and how do you keep people from LEANING on the artifacts???

Just a personal peeve there....

Anyhow, if you are interested, come and join us. The list has been in existence one day and already we have members from Colonial Williamsburg to Conner Prairie, from Ohio to Wisconsin and beyond.
I think we are going to have a very good time.

Visit to Chillicothe and Adena Mansion and gardens Part II

After visiting Adena, I was treated to a walking tour of Paint and Water streets in downtown Chillicothe by interpreter Kevin Coleman. Kevin came to the Piqua Historical Area to visit the Johnston Farmhouse earlier this summer. After the tour we connected and he invited me to come see Chilicothe. It just so happened that Kevin also volunteers at Adena, so we linked up there and the rest is...

Well, history.

Chillicothe is a fascinating city, filled with mid-1800s architecture. A fire in 1851 devastated a few blocks and so there is a beautiful symmetry to the buildings which replaced the destroyed structures. Their courthouse is one of the most remarkable buildings I have ever seen. Magnificent would begin to describe it. (See first photo above for a glimpse.) The Carlisle building is also remarkable. The local historians have been fighting for years to save it. It is one of those remarkable gothic-looking Victorian structures. (See second photo above). Kevin is deeply committed to rescuing this unique bit of Chillicothe history.

To quote Kevin's brochure he is - 'a local historian, architectural historian and journalist. A native of Ross County, he has also been a schoolteacher and has spoken before many groups. ' Kevin does both walking and driving tours of the Chillicothe area. I was treated to both and can highly recommend both him and the sights you will see.

For more information contact Kevin as IHS@horizonview.net or by phone at 740/775-4036

And on top of all of this, he's a really nice guy!

Visit to Chillicothe and Adena Mansion and gardens Part I

About two weeks ago I took a busman's holiday to Chillicothe OH. I am working on period landscaping for the Johnston Farm house at the Piqua Historical Area and the boss wanted me to work 'in house' with the gardeners at Adena. I had been to Adena before as a tourist and greatly enjoyed the site and talking to everyone who works there. This time I spent less time looking and more time connecting. The interpreters were great (Hello, Jennifer and Angie - hope I got that right!), and the gardener I spoke with was very willing to help. (Hi, Ed!) We plotted and planned a bit and talked a lot. In the end we decided that getting together every once in a while would be a good thing.

But more about that later....

Here's the blurb about the site from the Ohio Historical Society website:

Adena was the 2000-acre estate of Thomas Worthington (1773-1827), sixth governor of Ohio and one of the state's first United States Senators. The mansion house, completed in 1806-1807, has been restored to look much as it did when the Worthington family lived there, including many original Worthington family furnishings. The house is one of only three houses designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe still standing in the U.S. Latrobe is considered the first professional American architect and served as architect of the US capitol under President Thomas Jefferson.

Situated on the 300 remaining acres of the original homeplace are five outbuildings and formal gardens. The gardens have undergone major renovation. Visitors may stroll through three terraces of flowers and vegetables, as well as the shrubs and trees in the Grove. Looking east from the north lawn of the mansion, one can see across the Scioto River Valley to the Logan Range. This view is depicted on the Great Seal of the State of Ohio.

A new Museum and Education Center features interactive exhibits that use the stories of people connected to Adena to give visitors a picture of life in Ohio in the early 1800s as well as classrooms, meeting and rental space.

It's worth a visit. Really. The house is spectacular and the interpreters well-informed. The museum has great displays on the Worthingtons as well as ones on pioneer life. There's plenty for kids and adults.

Take my word for it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Reintroducing myself

It's been a few months since I created this blog and as new people are 'dropping in ' all the time, I thought I would post my intro again. Look for a new post on the trip I took to historic Chillicothe today soon!

A website and a blog to house the ramblings of a woman who wants to live in the past. Anyone see a contradiction here?

Yes, I have finally taken the step and set up a blog. (There has to be a better name for it, don't you think?) As a woman who spends her days laced in a corset and wearing way too many underpinnings (too much underwear for those of you unacquainted with the 19thc term), I find it amusing and not a bit ironic that I now have two modes of electronic and instant communication with the entire world. If wishes were horses and beggars rode bareback, I would find a time machine and vanish utterly from the face of the 21st century world. I detest wires and phone-lines and machines and noise and stale air laced with chemicals. I am one of those radical women who think women's lib went too far. I like to have doors opened for me. I would be delighted if a man cast his coat over a puddle so I could keep my silk shoes clean. I believe in nobility and chivalry and that all-too-unpopular word - sacrifice. Yes, I know the past was not perfect, but people gave a damn about things like honor and they understood that some things had to be earned. And that if they were not earned, but were given, then they simply did not mean as much.

I think you have in a nutshell in the paragraph above what this blog will be about. History. A woman in a corset. And a few rants about the modern world. Add a dose of art and shake it up with the fact that I write fiction about these themes, and there you have it!

Of course, I haven't mentioned yet my habit of collecting young men...well, their images. It's ok. They all died about 150 years ago. I love daguerreotypes and I will be sharing some of the images I have collected here. (And they are not all young men. Just most of them....) Daguerreotypes are a visual link to that past I was speaking of before. You can see it in their eyes - determination, intelligence, purpose.

There I go again.

Anyhow, for the history I will share some of my interests and research. As for the lady in the corset, she will tell you all about interpreting and just how it feels to walk around with a steel stay stuck in the pit of your arm. (And you know you want to know!) As for the rants, see all of the above. My art I will talk about. To see it, visit my website at http://www.marlafair.com/ And as for the writing. I do that. Write. Historicals and fantasy. I will use this blog to let my readers know some of my thoughts - to let them into the process - and to let them know when and where my books can be bought.

No great pearls of wisdom today. It's late and I'm tired. Father's Day at the historic site today. Four tours and four hundred steps. So since I am out of words, I will leave you with someone else's.'Night.

Sacrifice is nothing other than the production of sacred things. ATTRIBUTION:Georges Bataille

PS The books can be bought at http://www.lulu.com/ for now. Just put my name in the search engine.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Mea Culpa for being so long in posting. As the summer season winds down at the historic site so, it seems, do I. August always seems to be a hiatus month from writing & art, and I guess blogging falls in the same category.

That said, I thought I would post something. So, here is another of my young men.

This daguerreotype is an interesting example of what happens when you become intrigued with images of people from the past you don't - and can never know. I purchased this one due to the young man fitting my 'profile' (which is dark haired and slightly haunted looking. LOL) The dag arrived in the mail. I dutifully peeled it out of its ancient cradle of gutta percha and gold leaf and scanned the image. When the young man emerged from the solarized darkness of the copper sheet, it was pretty obvious to see he was not well when the photo was taken. Look at how thin and gaunt he is. At his upper arms. At the way he holds himself. It was common in the 19th c to have photos taken of the dead - and the soon to die. I think this young man is one of the latter. What was his story, do you think? Was this for a fiance who was soon to be left bereaved? For his mother, or family? Again, we will never know. But as intended, his image - and the fact that he lived - has been preserved.