Exhibit Review: Everyday Life at Tusculum-- Virginia's Tuscany, by Jordanne Ryan '12

Sidney Fletcher's Tusculum Plantation house has been dismantled and moved.

What was once the home to Sidney Fletcher, the brother of Sweet Briar Plantation owner and later, founder of Sweet Briar College, Indiana Fletcher Williams, has been systematically disassembled and brought eight miles south to the Sweet Briar College campus to be resurrected as a site to educate the public on environmentally sustainable historic preservation practices and on the importance of preserving local history.

However, just because the Tusculum House is currently in the process of being revived next to its sister building, the Sweet Briar House, does not mean Tusculum is completely roped off from the public. Currently on exhibition in the Benedict Gallery is the history, present, and future of Tusculum, complete with artifacts and photographs: "Everyday Life at Tusculum," curated by Dr Lynn Rainville and Nancy McDearmon.            
Mounted on the walls of the Gallery are photographs collected from Williams' descendants, revealing everyday life on the estate after the turn of the 20th century. Among those photographed are not only the White members of the family, but also the African-American members who served as slaves, servants, cooks, and nursemaids to the Williams and the Crawfords.

Included with the photographs and excerpts about the family history and the future of the house, is a scale replica of one of the three mantles of the house and artifacts from the disassembling. Found in display cases in the gallery, visitors will find everyday objects from the Tusculum house, including glass medicinal bottles, sherds of plates and cookware, marbles, buttons, and doorknobs. Together, these objects help create a picture of an average day at Tusculum. To better visualize what Tusculum looked like and will look like after reconstruction, the Tusculum Institute created a three-dimensional model of the house, split down the middle so that visitor can take a peek inside.

Visit the Exhibit!

Visitors can find all this and more at the Benedict Gallery on Sweet Briar Campus. The gallery is open at all hours and open to the public. The Tusculum Exhibit will be on display until November 17th, 2009.

The Tusculum Exhibit at the Benedict Gallery. Photo by Jordanne Ryan '12.

A 1/4" scale model of Tusculum, built by Ezra Hitzeman, Lost Industries. Photo by Jordanne Ryan '12.

Architectural elements: an inscribed brick, a door jam, and a doorknob. Photo by Jordanne Ryan '12.

Artifacts Excavated by the William & Mary Center for Archaeological Research. Photo by Jordanne Ryan '12.

Tusculum Model, second floor. Photo by Jordanne Ryan '12.