Annapolis art historian takes over as curator at Hammond-Harwood House – Capital Gazette

It was a big job, with a lot of drama.

This is how Barbara Goyette describes the task Frances “Fanny” Chase Loockerman, mother of 10, undertook in 1811 when she moved into Hammond-Harwood House, a lavish estate on Maryland Avenue in Annapolis.

“It’s a very interesting family living here, and they had all these kids, but it was a big economic job, trying to keep it going,” said Goyette, who became executive director of Hammond-Harwood House in 2016. .

The house was a gift from Fanny’s father, respected landowner, judge and Continental Congressman Jeremiah Townley Chase, who lived around the corner from King George Street.

Although he was generous, Chase also worried that Richard “Dickey” Loockerman, the St. John’s College student his daughter had fallen in love with, was in trouble.

“He was a bit unstable,” Goyette said. “The parents judged that he was not 100%,” Goyette said. Chase lent his son-in-law money on several occasions, eventually canceling those loans and forcing Loockerman to sell East Coast property to settle his debts. A surviving letter from a family friend indicates that Loockerman’s death in 1834 occurred after he traveled to Caroline County, “took to frolic while intoxicated” and was “fallen ill”.

“The guy didn’t have a lot of resources and he was always in debt,” Goyette said. “There were a lot of tragedies.

Two centuries later, maintaining Hammond-Harwood House remains a formidable task, and Goyette has a new partner to try to keep operations drama-free. Lucinda Dukes Edinberg, who recently served as acting director of the Mitchell Gallery, the museum on St. John’s College campus, begins work on Tuesday as the new curator of Hammond-Harwood House.

“We did a nationwide search,” Goyette said, “the best candidate was four blocks away.”

For Edinberg, the new job combines a trio of activities she has carried out in Annapolis for two decades: teaching art at Anne Arundel Community College, curating exhibitions and safeguarding a collection of decorative art – including Francis’s office. Scott Key – in St. John’s and frequently visit Hammond-Harwood House as a tourist.

She first came as a tourist in 1978 and, after moving to Annapolis, said the house was a must-see.

“Whenever I had friends in town, we always came here,” Edinberg said.

Since the early 2000s, Edinberg has held art history lessons around the Hammond-Harwood collection of decorative arts, including furniture by 18th-century Annapolis craftsman John Shaw and portraits of the first American petty officer Charles Willson Peale and his Swedish American tutor, John Hesselius. Students in his world architecture classes learned about the house’s carved wooden cornices, applications of principles like the Euclidean middle ground, and architect William Buckland’s obsession with symmetry. The dining room includes both a false door and a door disguised as a window.

“I revisited as an educator, and now I’m here as an educator,” Edinberg said. “The accent has changed a bit.”

Rachel Lovett, former curator of Hammond-Harwood House, announced earlier this year that she would return to her native New England to serve as executive director of several historic Cape Cod homes. The current special exhibition at Hammond-Harwood, which features more than two dozen portraits of Peale, was a joint effort: Lovett arranged loans from other collections and hung the paintings; Edinberg arranged the lighting (with only two outlets in the living room) and wrote an essay for the catalog.

Goyette and Edinberg also have a history of working together, as the two women overlapped in St. John’s, where Goyette previously served as vice president. His retirement from college, Goyette said, “lasted about three weeks.” She came to Hammond-Harwood as a consultant and eventually agreed to take on the position of executive director.

Now the two women are planning several major performance and infrastructure changes. Like many antebellum historic sites, Hammond-Harwood House seeks to elevate the lives of the slaves who once lived there. Records are sparse, Goyette said, but they recently learned from newspapers that Dickey Loockerman auctioned off a boy named Harry on the front porch to pay back taxes. He also “hired” a woman named Juliette to try to settle debts.

Many pre-Civil War diaries, such as Pulitizer Prize-winning Mary Chestnut’s account, reveal that women resented their husbands for mistreating slaves. Was this the case for Fanny Loockerman? Goyette doesn’t know, but the two incidents would certainly have been traumatic for the slaves and the lives of the Loockerman family, she said.

The corner of Maryland Avenue and King George Street may have been a dysfunctional crossroads, but Goyette and Edinberg believe the Loockerman children had happy times. The house has a small collection of what Edinberg calls “precursors of American dolls” and pint-sized furniture. The second upstairs bedroom currently houses the four-poster bed where unmarried sisters Lucy and Hester Hammond died in the 1920s. For the seven Loockerman children who survived infancy, it was likely a nursery . This is how they plan to reinterpret the play.

“One of the most common questions we get is, ‘Where did the seven children sleep? “said Goyette.

After Fanny and Dickey’s granddaughters died, the house was sold to St. John’s, but the college was unable to maintain the mansion during the Great Depression. In 1937, a group of women from the Baltimore Garden Club raised $42,000 to buy the house and, using auction records, successfully bought back much of the furniture from the Loockerman family. Since then, the house has been in the hands of a small non-profit organization.

Eleven large Georgian houses were built during Annapolis’ building boom of the 1760s and early 1770s, including the William Paca House, the James Brice House, and two houses owned by the Carroll family. Mathias Hammond, the bachelor barrister who commissioned the house in 1774, may have aimed for Georgian greatness, but historical records show he never lived in the house full-time. According to an unconfirmed historical account, Hammond was so obsessed with building plans that his fiancée broke off their engagement, and Hammond chose to live at his country home in Gambrills instead of Annapolis. He rented to several tenants, and Chase rented part of the house as a law firm for several years before buying the house for his daughter.

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What sets Hammond-Harwood House today, Edinberg said, is the choice to interpret the colonial mansion as an 1820s home that tells a “social story” of Annapolis.

“It’s really about getting that vignette of what a workhouse was like, and not just something symbolic that’s on the sidewalk,” Edinberg said. “That’s why I consider it part of my job to bring this house to life and make it more than just a genealogy.”

In addition to tours, the house’s special programming includes a John Shaw furniture class taught in partnership with Smithsonian Associates. Soprano Elissa Edwards is artist-in-residence and programs chamber music in the garden and upstairs ballroom. And of course, Jane Austen’s fortnightly tour remains “hugely popular,” Goyette said.

Edinberg would like to add a Regencycore millinery workshop, allowing visitors to make hats suitable for a Bridgerton Ball. (She can be seen walking around Annapolis wearing a blue straw flowered bonnet.) Other ideas include sewing lessons, oyster shell plaster demonstrations, and children’s programs to teach children how to burn the Peggy Stuart, Maryland’s equivalent of the Boston Tea Party.

“There’s such great programming now, it’s easy to build on what’s being done,” Edinberg said.

But first for the new curator: orientation. Like all the other tour guides who are new to Hammond-Harwood this fall, Edinberg needs to revamp the history of the house.

“Docent training is next week,” Goyette told his colleague. “I have already registered you. »

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