The Davenport House Museum will refresh Savannah’s perception of the deadly 1820 yellow fever epidemic and hopes to entice those interested in the port city’s frightening and fascinating past to attend a performance of the 2013 production of Dreadful Pestilence: Savannah Epidemic of 1820. The program is offered every Friday and Saturday evening in October at 7:30 and 8:45 p.m. Attendees will become involved with a town hall meeting debating the very existence of the fever; see bereaved residents, hear about healing and the unrecorded mortality in the African American community and – new this year – visit a doctor treating an afflicted patient. All of this takes place in and around the 1820s historic house which was nearing completion at the time of the epidemic. “People ask us what could there be new to say about yellow fever year after year,” says Director Jamie Credle of the living history program the museum presents every October. She responds, “Because there is such a wealth of sources and information, there are still unexplored perspectives to the catastrophe. The museum changes the show every year to spotlight something new.” read more…
RECIPIENTS DARBYSHIRE AND ZETTLER
Each year the Davenport House Museum recruits and trains teenagers to become tour guides through two Junior Interpreter programs – one offered in the summer which is open to any interested student and the other offered in the fall to students through Savannah Arts Academy’s American history classes. These programs have been a proving ground, producing a remarkable number of museum ambassadors who have gone on to become stand-out students in high school and later in college. To acknowledge this record, in March 2011 the Davenport House Endowment Directors initiated a scholarship for an outstanding high school student who demonstrates qualities which put the museum and its community in the best light. This year for the first time, two students will be recognized. The awards presentation will take place at the Davenport House’s Spring Garden party on Thursday, June 6.
Of the scholarship, DH Director Jamie Credle said, “The Class of 2013 is extraordinary with eight graduating seniors currently involved with the Davenport House who are worthy of recognition. However, we were asked to make a decision recognizing two JIs who are vital, smart, enthusiastic, self-less and committed to the museum. Ellie Darbyshire and Rachel Zettler meet the criteria and the DH community is proud to be associated with them.”
Savannah Country Day senior Ellie Darbyshire, daughter Connie and Glenn Darbyshire, came to the Davenport House in the summer of her sophomore year. She has been involved with the DH consistently for three years and her volunteer commitment includes recruiting and mentoring new JIs as well as working with the Yellow Fever and SuperMuseumSunday programs. She is also a staff docent. Of her time at the DH she writes, “I love working at the museum. I have learned so much about Savannah’s history and public relations. I have also gotten the opportunity to meet a lot of amazing people. These past three years have been a wonderful experience that I will never forget.”
In addition to her involvement at the DH, she is Head of Savannah Country Day School Lower School Tutoring, is a member of National Honor Society and is a varsity volleyball athlete. Other community spirited activities include being a member of the American Cancer Society and participating in a mission trip to Guatemala. “Ellie wears her community spiritedness with nonchalance as if everyone has the same level of commitment she does which is certainly not the case. She provides intelligent commentary on tours and can respond with ease to the variety of questions patrons ask when visiting the museum.” Currently, Ellie is weighing college options.
Rachel Zettler, a senior at Savannah Arts Academy and the daughter of Glenn and Patricia Zettler, has been active at DH since her sophomore year in high school when she participated in the SAA Junior Interpreter program. Rachel was a standout in her class of fifteen. Shortly after training, she became a staff docent working on weekends at the museum. She trained to work in the DH Museum Shop and has held positions of responsibility with museum events such as the Holiday Evening Tours by Candlelight, Yellow Fever and Valentine’s Day Weddings in the Garden. Of her work, DH Director, Jamie Credle offers, “Her maturity and ability to think on her feet have made her the ideal person to staff frontline duties.” Rachel says of her DH work, “My time at the Davenport House has not only helped to prepare me for the future, but also helped me in everyday life. Work as a docent taught me necessary people skills and helped me to become more comfortable and confident in my own skin.”
Her life away from the DH is rich. She is President of the SAA Beta Club and Vice-President of Mastery Mixed Chorus. She has received numerous awards in her arts specialty, chorus including performing with the American High School Honors Performance Series at Carnegie Hall. She will continue her musical training in vocal performance at Georgia State University in Atlanta in the fall. read more…
Davenport House Museum’s 2012 Harvest Lecture
Kennedy Pharmacy/ Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7 pm
The DH hosts Martha Katz-Hyman, co-editor of the ground-breaking survey World of a Slave: Encyclopedia of the Material Life of Slaves in the United States, who will speak on her work for the 2012 DH Harvest Lecture.
Of this scholarship an authority has written, “Enslaved blacks retained some private realm that included toys, musical instruments, clothing, jewelry, and distinctive hair styles. . . . It is through such objects and practices that modern people can gain at least some understanding of the day-to-day lives of these men, women, and children.” Informing us “on the material world of slavery such as what they saw, touched, heard, ate, drank, and smoked; worked with and in; used, cultivated, crafted, played, and played with; and slept on,” hers is “a landmark work in this important new field of study.” (ABC-Clio)
After a long wait the permits are in hand and the construction is beginning on a project to visually link the Kennedy Pharmacy and the Davenport House. The idea for this project germinated in 2000 when Sottile and Sottile created a master plan for the DH campus (the DH and the KP). Time passed and the KP was rehabbed. In 2010 we revisited the “linkage” concept as part of the DH Stakeholders Forum. Community members decided it was still valid and needed – anyone who visits the DH from the lane knows it is needed! Sottile and Sottile graciously agreed to update the design and discussion recommenced on getting the project completed.
The project will include placing permeable pavers in the lane between the DH and KP, adding bluestone to the sidewalk beside the garden and constructing a screen for the AC units and trash cans. With this upgrade the flow between the two buildings will be easier on the eye and more understandable to people utilizing the two buildings. For the next few years, visitors to DH programs and those attending events and weddings will benefit from the project. The long term goal for the museum is to move the shop and office spaces from the lower level of the house into the Kennedy Pharmacy and having the visitor experience begin in the Kennedy Pharmacy with visitors moving daily between the two buildings.
While there are several components to the project, the lane segment has caused the most delay as it is on city property and involves a relatively new idea – at least new to contemporary Savannah. Of it Jonathan Rhangos of Savannah Hardscapes says, “Once complete this will be on the only green lane in Savannah.” Savannah Hardscapes is donating the pavers to demonstrate a test case for their use. Permeable pavers allow the movement of storm water through the surface reducing run off.
Many people have moved this project along including Sottile and Sottile, Bloomquist Construction, Thomas and Hutton Engineering, Savannah Hardscapes, Barlett Tree, John McEllen and the funders — the Davenport House Endowment Directors.
DREADFUL PESTILENCE: Savannah’s Yellow Epidemic of 1820 – at the Davenport House
The October living history presentation at the Davenport House marks the tenth consecutive year the Museum has presented a theatrical production intended to amplify and showcase Savannah history in creative and thrilling ways.
“It is our responsibility to present the story of the port city of the 1820s,” explains DH Director Jamie Credle. “This is a decade little known by most people, and we have to do it in appealing ways. For our programs,” she adds, “our Museum has to find and serve an audience.”
And according to Credle, the Museum found that audience right outside its front door.
Savannah Christian Prep’s Carlie Ayn Williams
Over the past years the Davenport House Museum has produced a notable number of Junior Interpreters (JIs) who have gone on to become stand-out students in high school and later in college. To acknowledge this record, the Davenport House presents a scholarship annually to an outstanding high school student who demonstrates qualities which put the museum and its community in the best light. This year’s award will be presented to Savannah Christian Preparatory School senior Carlie Ayn Williams at the Davenport House’s Annual Garden Party on Thursday, June 7th. The Davenport House Endowment Director’s initiated the scholarship program in 2011. The Critz Family is the sponsor of the 2012 Davenport House Service Scholarship.
The Davenport House (DH) began the Junior Interpreter program in March 2003 to provide an educational and a service-oriented program for students in grades nine through twelve. During summer 2003 the first group of JIs completed training and began giving tours of the museum house. In the fall of 2005 the Davenport House and Savannah Arts Academy began offering the JI program in the evening to sophomore American history students. Since 2003 over one hundred and forty young people have participated in the DH’s JI programs. read more…
At this time of seasonal sweaters and holiday finery, it does us good to recall the transformation that took place almost two hundred years ago that made the constant, conscious ruminations over the production of clothing and the manufacture of cloth obsolete. When we thumb through a catalog or surf outfits on-line, we rarely, if ever, think of how or who made these items of apparel. This was not the case in the 1820s when the Davenports lived in their fine brick home on Columbia Square. At that time the household was in the midst of the textile revolution which took Americans, beginning in the late 18th century, from spinning threads and weaving their own cloth into “homespun” to purchasing machine-made fabrics such as cambric, gingham, nankeen, osnaburg, bomazeen and sarsnet at a dry goods purveyor in the port city. Yet, the women of the household still had to coordinate the production of clothing as well as the constant tasks of mending and caring for clothing and cloth items already made.
In October for the ninth year the Davenport House Museum will stage a recreation of Savannah’s yellow fever epidemic of 1820. Every Friday and Saturday evening the garden and interior of the house are transformed into a theater set conveying the emotions surrounding the time.
Each year the performance has focused on a different aspect and point of view while maintaining the basic story of the dreadful pestilence which transformed a bustling seaport into a ghost town, devoid of the majority of its population.
This year’s performance promises to take its visitors where it has not gone before. Using the restored Kennedy Pharmacy as a stand-in for the city’s public gathering place in 1820, the Exchange Long Room at the foot of Bull Street occupied by City Hall today – the controversial war between Savannah newspapers which occurred in the weeks preceding the outbreak of yellow fever and which continued well into the epidemic, will be re-created in the first part of the evening’s performance.
“This winter, cold, piercing, winter! I am half frozen, with my back close to the fire and a foot stove beneath my feet.” (Margaret Baynard Smith speaking of Washington, DC in the early 19th Century)
Fireplaces and Home Fires at the Davenport House
Are we oblivious??!! One wonders, if we were stripped of our modern necessities – running water, central air and refrigeration – would we be able to manage?!! This isn’t rhetorical pontification. As we turn our thoughts to the upcoming winter months and impending holiday celebration, could we build and maintain a fireplace till spring? In the 19th century the winter hearth was a necessity in daily living as well as a comforting center of the home during the colder months and yet, what reference do we really have to it — really?
In thinking of a topic to concentrate on for holiday research, the DH settled on home fires and fireplaces as a way to amp up interest in past daily living and holiday celebrations. Who doesn’t like a roaring fireplace?! And, for many of us our only frame of reference to an open fire in the home is during the holidays. But for 19th century Savannahians, wood fires were a daily necessity – that is if one wanted warm, cooked food – even in the summer.
Jellies and Syllabub . . . And how different our worlds are . . .
Have you noticed when visiting one of the fine 18th century houses such as those in Colonial Williamsburg the arrangement of small cylindrical glasses with colorful jellies and creams inside that centers the festive table? In the grandest of homes, such as the Governor’s Palace, these glasses are often arranged in a dessert pyramid of glass salvers. Sometimes placed around the jellies and creams are sweetmeats and cakes. Because of their placement one expects that they were a highlight both for the eye and as well as the appetite. read more…