Kentucky Bluegrass: From Lexington to Louisville

DECORATIVE ARTS TRUST SPRING SYMPOSIUM

April 15–19, 2020

“A richer and more beautiful country than this I believe has never been seen in America” is how the land surveyor and Revolutionary War officer George Rogers Clark described the Bluegrass region in 1775. By 1820, Lexington had quickly become one of the largest and wealthiest towns west of the Allegheny Mountains. The rapid growth of the city’s population amplified its cultural scene and Lexington soon gained the nickname “the Athens of the West.” The area is celebrated for its beauty, exquisite pastureland, rich soil, and world-class racehorses. Symposium participants enjoy a comprehensive introduction to Kentucky history through the superb and varied landscapes, cultural sites, and architectural achievements, as well as an opportunity to sample the state’s iconic export: bourbon.

SYMPOSIUM SCHEDULE  (subject to amendment)

Thursday, April 16

Blue Grass Trust, Thomas Hunt-Morgan House

6:00 p.m.
  • Far Away: Recalling the Climate of Taste in Old Kentucky
    Estill Curtis Pennington, Curator, Patty Marsh Biddle Archive
7:00 p.m.
  • Opening Reception
    Sponsored by:

Friday, April 17

Blue Grass Trust, Thomas Hunt-Morgan House

9:00 a.m.
  • Welcome
  • Design at a Crossroads in the Antebellum West
    Patrick Lee Lucas, Associate Professor, School of Interiors, College of Design, University of Kentucky
  • Henry Clay: Architecture & the Decorative Arts
    James Birchfield, Independent Scholar, Curator of Rare Books Emeritus, University of Kentucky
  • Latrobe’s “Rational House” for John and Eliza Pope: Entertaining, Privacy, and Labor in a Lexington Villa
    Patrick Snadon, Independent Historian of Architecture and Design
11:00 a.m.
  • At Hopemont, we explore the handsome home of Wesley Hunt, known as the first millionaire west of the Alleghenies, who earned his fortune in the mercantile business. Adjacent to Gratz Park, the 1814 Federal-style house includes a collection of early Kentucky furniture, ceramics, and paintings and is complemented by a period garden.
12:00 p.m.
  • Lunch at the Carnegie Center
1:00 p.m.
  • Our afternoon tours explore three distinct and important historic houses in Lexington.

    • Located on what was a 660-acre estate belonging to Henry Clay, US Senator and Speaker of the House, Ashland offers visitors a unique glimpse into elite 19th-century life in Lexington. The grand home was entirely recreated by his son James in 1852 following damage done by an earthquake. Architect Thomas Lewinski rebuilt the original structure while adding Greek Revival and Italianate details.

    • The privately owned Elley Villa was built in 1851 for the cotton planter William R. Elley and his wife Louisa Johnson Elley, who grew up in the nearby Pope Villa. The house served as a summer retreat from their plantation in Mississippi. The design was based on Gothic-style plans in Andrew Jackson Downing’s The Architecture of Country Houses (1850).

    • Pope Villa, designed by “America’s first architect” Benjamin Henry Latrobe, was built for U.S. Senator John Pope in 1810. Pope’s wife Eliza played an integral role in the design of the house, collaborating with Latrobe to create a home perfect for entertaining. The result was an avant garde design, consisting of a perfect square with a domed rotundata in the middle of the second floor.

Saturday, April 18

Blue Grass Trust, Thomas Hunt-Morgan House

9:00 a.m.
  • Welcome

  • Into the Bluegrass: Art and History of Kentucky’s Historic Icons
    Mel Hankla, Ed.D., American History Services

  • A Gallop into Early Kentucky Furniture (1790–1820)
    Mack Cox, Collector and Independent Scholar

10:30 a.m.
  • Following our morning lectures, members may select from two off-site tour options: Frankfort and Environs or Paris and Georgetown. Note: Paris and Georgetown is full. Please call us at (610) 627-4970 to join the waitlist. Frankfort and Environs is still available. 

    • Participants may choose to explore sites in and around the historic state capital Frankfort and Environs. The Old State Capitol served as home of the Kentucky General Assembly from 1830 to 1910 and was designed in the Greek Revival style by Gideon Shryock, an early Lexington architect. Estill Pennington provides a tour of the comprehensive collection of documents and artifacts related to the state of Kentucky. Built in 1796 by John Brown, Kentucky’s first Senator, the Neoclassical Liberty Hall is furnished with early-19th-century decorative arts and offers an appealing location for lunch. The afternoon includes a visit to a privately owned Greek-Revival home with an exceptional collection. Before the tour concludes members are given a true taste of Kentucky at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, one of the oldest continuously operating distilleries in the United States.

    • Alternatively, members may opt for an outing to Paris and Georgetown, where the first stop includes lunch at the colossal Duncan Tavern, a three-storied building constructed of native limestone. Joseph Duncan, an officer in the Revolutionary War, built his home in 1788, four years before Kentucky received her statehood. We proceed to the privately-owned Buknore, one of Kentucky’s most beautiful antebellum edifices, which was lovingly restored in recent years. Kiser Station is one of the most important stone houses in Bourbon County. The property was established by the Kiser family in 1780, who lived in the home for nearly 170 years. The day concludes at Kentucky’s grandest Greek Revival house, Ward Hall. The imposing structure belonged to the Mississippi planter Junius Ward and was completed in 1857 using designs from Minard Lafever’s pattern books.

6:00 p.m.

 

Sunday, April 19

Blue Grass Trust, Thomas Hunt-Morgan House

9:00 a.m.
  • Welcome

  • The Kentucky Shakers: A Southerner’s Interpretation of the Rule
    Tommy Hines, Executive Director, South Union Shaker Village

  • John A.H. Sweeney Emerging Scholar Lecture
    Craftsman in the Bluegrass: Milton Paul and the African-American Cabinetmakers of Lexington’s Colonial Revival
    Erica Lome, PhD Candidate, American Civilization, University of Delaware

  • The Jonathan L. Fairbanks Lecture
    Furniture and Identity in Early Kentucky: The Case of the Cabriole-Legged Furniture of Mason County
    Daniel Ackerman, Curator, Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts

11:00 a.m.
  • Symposium concludes

OPTIONAL TOURS

Pre-Symposium Optional Tour: Derby Days in Louisville

Note: The Pre-Symposium Tour is full. Please call us at (610) 627-4970 to join the waitlist.

 

Wednesday, April 15

  • Following a morning departure from Lexington, our first stop is in Bloomfield at the impressive privately-owned Walnut Grove Farm. The owners discovered Walnut Grove on a trip to Kentucky in the 1990s. The nearly 200-year-old Greek Revival house was carefully restored along with eight other historic buildings in the area. The owners’ passion for preservation and Kentucky history is noted throughout their enchanting estate and the superb collection they have assembled.
  • We proceed to the J.B. Speed Memorial Museum in Louisville, the oldest, largest, and foremost museum of art in Kentucky, with a focus on Western art, from antiquity to the present day. We are greeted by Scott Erbes, Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, and Erika Holmquist, Curator of European & American Painting & Sculpture, who will join us for lunch and provide in-depth tours of the collection.
  • At the nearby Filson Historical Society, we are treated to in-depth object studies along with tours led by the curatorial team. The Filson, founded in 1884, is a privately-supported historical society dedicated to preserving the history of Kentucky and the Ohio Valley Region and houses an impressive collection of documents, paintings, objects, and books. We conclude our day with a closing reception at the Filson before making our way to our accommodations at the Galt House Hotel.

Thursday, April 16

  • Our day commences with a driving tour of Louisville with architect Steve Wiser, including stops at three important historic homes. At Farmington, we explore the 18-acre historic site that was formerly the center of a hemp plantation owned by John and Lucy Speed. It is widely speculated that the 14-room Federal-style brick plantation house was based on a design by Thomas Jefferson. The site has seen generations of history including a visit from Abraham Lincoln in 1841.
  • We proceed to Ridgeway, a notable one-story Federal-style house with brick laid in Flemish bond and gardens designed by the landscape architect Arthur W. Cowell in the early 20th century. Often referred to as the masterpiece of famed local architect Arthur Loomis of Clarke & Loomis, the Conrad-Caldwell House is one of the finest examples of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. The House has been restored to reflect the Edwardian era and houses an extensive collection testifying to the abundant lifestyle of the owners, two of Louisville’s most prominent businessmen and entrepreneurs, Theophile Conrad and William E. Caldwell.
  • Following lunch, we depart for Locust Grove, a 55-acre 18th-century farm with a c. 1792 Georgian house. The original owners, William and Lucy Clark Croghan, welcomed a generation of American luminaries to their home, including Presidents James Monroe and Andrew Jackson, John James Audubon, and Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Our visit to Louisville ends with a splendid private collection of Kentucky silver before heading back to Lexington for the opening lecture and reception.

Registration is limited.

Sunday Optional Tour: Pleasant Hill, Stanford, and Richmond

Note: The Sunday Optional Tour is full. Please call us at (610) 627-4970 to join the waitlist.

 

Sunday, April 19

11:00 a.m.– 7:00 p.m.
  • This day includes three exceptional collections of Kentucky decorative arts. We depart by coach for a visit and lunch at the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, a tree lined and beautifully restored community, developed from 1805 until 1910. Participants enjoy in-depth workshops led by Shaker craft experts Tommy Hines and Aaron Genton.
  • Our group disembarks in Stanford at Traveler’s Rest, the home of David and Roseann Downey. The original structure on this site was built for Kentucky’s first Governor Issac Shelby in 1786. After it burned in 1905, a descendant reconstructed the dwelling on the original foundation. The Downeys restored the house and have furnished it with a prominent collection of early Kentucky furniture, including a lap desk that belonged to Shelby, as well as contemporary studio glass and fine art by Henry Faulkner, a 20th-century Lexington artist.
  • We conclude the day at the home of Mack and Sharon Cox, whose splendid collection is an important and substantial reservoir or early Kentucky material culture that includes silver, textiles, engravings, landscape paintings, long rifles, powder horns, pottery, and glass. The Cox’s main focus centers around portraiture and furniture, especially examples made in Lexington and Frankfort. Their rich and varied holdings represent the Western perspective of the American Federal period.

Registration is limited.

FUNDRAISER

Fundraiser for the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program at the home of Nancy and Tom Meng

Note: The Fundraiser is full. Please call us at (610) 627-4970 to join the waitlist.

Saturday, April 18

 

6:00 p.m.

We are honored by the kind invitation to visit Nancy and Tom Meng. The Mengs are avid and longtime collectors of Kentucky decorative and fine art and have an extensive array of furniture, coin silver, glass, paintings, maps, books, and portraits that will not disappoint. Among some of the key pieces in their Kentucky furniture collection, all of which date to the early 19th century, are an inlaid sugar board, a six-paneled-door corner cupboard, a floral inlaid chest, and a four-drawer inlaid bureau attributed to the cabinentmaker Archibald McIlvain.

Please join us for a wonderful evening of connoisseurship and conviviality as we toast to our hosts’ hospitality and lend support to the Trust’s efforts to encourage the next generation of curators and academics through a growing series of grants, scholarships, and internships. In 2020, more than four dozen graduate students and young professionals will benefit from the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program.

Registration is limited.

TRAVEL, LODGING & ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

HOTEL:
  • Hilton Lexington Downtown, 369 W. Vine St.

    Special Room Rates: Single or double $189. The Trust has reserved a block of rooms for April 14–19. These rooms are available on a first-come first-served basis until March 15. Please make your reservations as soon as possible to ensure availability by calling 877.539.1648 and referencing the Decorative Arts Trust 2020 Symposium.

TRAVEL:
  • The hotel is a 15-minute cab ride from the Blue Grass Airport (LEX) in Lexington. Self-parking for overnight guests at the hotel is complimentary.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:

Registration fee:
$700 per person, which includes all lectures, tours, meals, receptions, and transportation referenced in symposium brochure as well as a $25 tax-deductible donation to the Dewey Lee Curtis Scholarship Fund to underwrite symposium scholarships for graduate students or young professionals. Participants may elect to make an additional donation to the Curtis Fund through registration.

Student and Young Professional fee:
$350 per person. This opportunity is limited to current graduate students and professionals working in the museum field who are less than 5 years from the completion of a college or graduate degree. The Trust also awards at least 2 scholarships per symposium. Applications can be submitted through the Trust’s website and are due by March 5.

Optional programs:
The Pre-Symposium Optional Tour is $550 for a single registration, $950 for two participants sharing a room, and include hotel accommodations for the night. The Sunday optional tour is $250 per person. The Saturday evening fundraiser for the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program is $250 per person, fully tax deductible. These fees include transportation, admission, and food and beverage as referenced in the symposium brochure. Registration for optional programs is limited.

Membership: All participants must be members of the Decorative Arts Trust. Please select a level of membership if you are not currently a member. For a list of membership benefits, visit www.decorativeartstrust.org. Members at the Sponsor level and above are invited to a special event during the symposium.

Waiver:
By registering for this symposium, I/we do hereby release The Decorative Arts Trust from any and all liability in connection with this symposium for any loss, delay, injury, or damage to or in respect to any person or property however the cause for arising. It is understood that The Decorative Arts Trust has acted as agent for me/us in providing means of transportation or other services and The Decorative Arts Trust is not to be held responsible for any act, omission, or event during the time I am/we are participating in this program, and this evidences my/our understanding that The Decorative Arts Trust has not now, nor will have in the future, any liability to me/us due to any consequences arising out of said program or in connection with said program.

Cancellation and Refund:
All cancellations received prior to January 31 are subject to a full refund less a $50 administrative fee per person. Participants canceling between January 31 and March 14 will receive a 50% refund. Refunds will not be made after March 14.

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