Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas Open House, Paca House and Gardens, Historic Annapolis

Parlor fireplace detail
Photo by Ken Tom

     For the past several years, I have had the pleasure to participate in the Christmas Open House in the Paca House and Gardens in Historic Annapolis.  This year it was on 16 December.  This is one of my favorite events.  The group that I organize, and am a part of, fill the house in our 18th century attire.  

     Many of us in the group make our own clothing, and we strive to be as accurate as we can.  In my case, I decided to wear a silk floral jacket made by The Silly Sisters, and my petticoat was made by Kerry McClure.  I leave the sewing to those experts, and I make the jewelry!  

     To help complete my ensemble, I decided to have a pair of my white American Duchess Dunmore shoes dyed gold to match the silk jacket.  I paired it with my Charlotte reproduction shoe buckles in Citrine and Clear.  So elegant.  For those who want to know, I can spend a year or more creating an outfit with all of the right bits and pieces to get the right look that I'm going for.  

     The event started at 4 pm and lasted until 7.  We had a steady stream of visitors through the house, and were portraying the people of the town in the year 1769.  

    Not many sites portray the 60's, so I went to portraits and prints of the time to get the right style hair.  My wig was made by The Wig Dresser.  I threaded pearls through it and added red fabric roses.  The jewelry came from my shop - dark topaz teardrop earrings, my Martha ring in gold, and wrapped two 29 inch vintage necklaces around my wrist and added clasps to it.  There are also crystal sleeve buttons (or also known as cuff links) closing my shift sleeves that you cannot see.  I then put on a vintage collet stone and topaz rhinestone necklace that I purchased years ago, and added an original 18th century watch chain that held my late 18th century original clock (watch) to honor those who previously wore them.  The gold of the chain really highlighted the gold elements in my jacket.  The stones, dark and light topaz in the necklace also picked up the red/rust elements in my jacket.  I am wearing a smaller version of panniers (pocket hoops) made by The Silly Sisters.

Ready to go!  
(They did not have Christmas trees in the 18th C but we do)

     This year was significant for Historic Annapolis in that it was the 250th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone for the James Brice House, which is next door.  So to honor Mr. Brice and that date, we portrayed the people of the past of that year.  We did have Mrs. Brice, James's mother, present and at the party.

Left to Right:  Mrs. Sarah Brice (Jane Pease), Mrs. Margaret Bordley (me), Mrs. Mary Paca (Gema Gonzalez), and Mrs. Rebecca Dulany (Jami Borek) visiting in the upstairs Master Bedroom
Photo by Ken Tom

Mrs. Bordley (me) and Mrs. Ann Ogle (Kerry McClure) in the Dining Room
(Hand Fans also sold in my shop)
Photo by Ken Tom

     For those interested in why we do this, it is about the history, the clothing, and portrayal of those who came before us.  Many have different interests - some in research, some in creating the clothing, and others in all of it!  In my case, I honor the memory of my character.  Those in this group are dedicated to dressing as correctly as we can.  We all research our characters to know as much as we can about their lives, and we study the dress normally worn in the time period we are "in."  This means we dress to create the illusion of the year we are portraying. We do our very best to honor the house and respect the artifacts within.

The gorgeous dining table with Kerry and I has original silver and dishes 
from the time with faux foods to simulate a dinner - the grandfather clock in the background is amazing and was just conserved!
Photo by Ken Tom

     There were 18 of us for this event, which I believe is the most we have had participate.  The house was filled with music as the event organizers, Lisa Holly Robbins, Aliya, and Janet Perkins, had a violin player on the second floor.  This year we also had English country dancing below stairs in the house with a master, Corky Palmer.  He and his wife gave a spectacular demonstration of the minuet for our guests, and everyone also joined in - including our visitors!  So there was music downstairs as well as small cakes of varying types and spiced mulled cider.  All of the senses were engaged!  I hope this is a regular thing for us as it was amazingly fun.  You'll recognize Corky as he is the dance master at Gadsby's Tavern Museum in Alexandria, VA.

Mrs. and Mrs. George D'Argeau (Corky and Cindy Palmer) with musician Mr. Oliver Stevens (Ted Borek)
Photo by Ken Tom

His Excellency Governor Eden (Harry Aycock) and Mrs. Caroline Eden (Krista Jasillo)
Photo by Ken Tom 

Mrs. Anne Worthington (Robin Marchionni) and Mr. Brice Worthington
Photo by Ken Tom

Mr. John Hall (Earl Shibe) and Mr. William Paca (Matthew West)
Photo by Ken Tom 

Mr. William Paca, Mrs. Anne Chase (Nicki Foronda), and Mr. John Hall
Photo by Ken Tom

 Colonel Horatio Sharpe (Shane Kippenhan) and Mr. William Eddis (Dan McMahon)
Photo by Ken Tom

I can see Mr. Worthington's cards!
Photo by Ken Tom

     Many of us went out afterwards to celebrate a birthday and a successful event at Galway Bay Irish Restaurant just down on College Street.  You also see Mr. Bordley at the table (Jim McGaughey).

Photo by Shane Kippenhan