Winston-Salem and the North Carolina Piedmont

EVENTS > SYMPOSIA > Winston-Salem and the North Carolina Piedmont


April 21-24, 2016

Steeped in a rich and varied culture, the North Carolina Piedmont is the home of impressive achievements in the history of architecture and decorative arts. MESDA’s 50th anniversary provided the impetus for our visit, not to mention the 250th anniversary of Salem and the 100th anniversary of Reynolda House. From masterworks of Southern decorative art and Moravian material culture to the glamour of Winston-Salem’s early-20th-century golden era, this symposium will provide a fabulous survey of the heart of the Tar Heel State.


ITINERARY  (subject to amendment)

Thursday, April 21

  • Registration in the Marriott Winston-Salem lobby
  • Opening Reception at MESDA with an opportunity to tour the new Carolyn and Mike McNamara Southern Masterworks Gallery and William C. and Susan S. Mariner Southern Ceramics Gallery
  • Welcoming Remarks and Opening Lecture
    50 Years of MESDA: A Colorful Past, A Bright Future
    Robert Leath, Chief Curator and Vice President of Collections & Research
    The Jonathan L. Fairbanks Lecture

Friday, April 22 – Reynolda House

  • Welcome
    Allison Perkins, Executive Director, Reynolda House
  • Charles Barton Keen and Architecture in Winston-Salem’s “Era of Success”
    Margaret Supplee Smith, Harold W. Tribble Professor Emerita, Wake Forest University
  • Restoring Reynolda’s Interiors, 1917-24
    Barbara Babcock Millhouse, Founding President, Reynolda House
  • Coffee Break
  • Envisioning Reynolda House as a Museum of American Art
    Allison Slaby, Curator, Reynolda House
  • Following our morning lectures we will be treated to a private tour of Reynolda House (1917) with our speakers. R.J. Reynolds and his wife, Katharine, hired Philadelphia architect Charles Barton Keen and landscape architect Thomas Sears, both nationally known, to develop their family home and gardens. In 1967, under the leadership of Barbara Babcock Millhouse, the Reynolds’ granddaughter, the house became a public museum to showcase a premier collection of American art.
  • We will enjoy lunch at Graylyn along with remarks by preservationist Tom Gray, who is the great nephew of the original owner, Bowman Gray, and oversaw the restoration of the house in the 1980s.
  • Our afternoon will begin with a tour of the Norman Revival Graylyn (1932). Bowman, the CEO of R.J. Reynolds at the time, and his wife, Nathalie, built a manor house with nearly 60 rooms and 46,000 square feet, making Graylyn the second largest private residence in North Carolina after Biltmore. Remarkable interior styling and craftsmanship are hallmarks of Graylyn. The house incorporates imported French woodwork and an Egyptian tent room, where the Grays and their guests enjoyed after-dinner coffee in the company of a stuffed camel, the namesake of their famous cigarette brand.
  • The day also includes a visit to the Georgian Revival Ralph and Dewitt Hanes House (1929), now Wake Forest University’s President’s Home. The Hanes represented two of the town’s most prominent industrial families, Hanes Hosiery Mills and Chatham Manufacturing. The house was conceived by heralded New England architect Julian Peabody. Famed interior designer Sister Parish oversaw the home’s interior furnishings, and the Hanes commissioned Ellen Biddle Shipman to layout the gardens.
  • The final stop in this series of prominent early-20th-century architectural landmarks is the Reynolds Building (1929), the former headquarters of R. J. Reynolds. The 21-story structure was designed by the architects Shreve, Lamb & Harmon and served as a precursor to the Empire State Building (1931), their masterpiece in New York City. The lobby of the Reynolds Building is an impressive statement of Art Deco styling and includes marble from Missouri, Belgium, and France; a ceiling festooned with gold leaf; grillwork, elevator doors and door frames of polished nickel, brass, and aluminum; and decorative mosaics featuring emblems of the Reynolds Co., notably the iconic camel.

Saturday, April 23 – MESDA

  • Welcome
    Ragan Folan, President and CEO, Old Salem
  • “Such a scene of industry…in so small a place”: The Moravian Aesthetic in American Decorative Arts, 1750-1830
    Johanna M. Brown, Director of Collections and Curator of Moravian Decorative Arts
  • “Some of the nisest furneter . . .ever [you] did see”: Early Furniture from Piedmont North Carolina
    June Lucas
    , Director of Research, Old Salem Museums and Gardens
  • Coffee Break
  • Technology & Craft in Southern Metalwork
    Gary Albert, Editor of the MESDA Journal and Adjunct Curator of Silver & Metals
  • America’s Ceramic History Begins in the South
    Robert Hunter, Editor, Ceramics in America
  • Lunch at Salem Tavern
  • Our afternoon will feature full-access and hands-on tours led by the curatorial staff at MESDA. Breaking into small groups, Trust members will be treated to intimate explorations of all facets of the remarkable decorative and fine art collection housed there, including the newly renovated and reinstalled galleries, the Anne P. and Thomas A. Gray Library’s rare book and manuscript holdings, the MESDA Research Center, as well as the historic buildings, gardens, and decorative arts found throughout Old Salem. Even those who have visited MESDA in the recent past will benefit from this special tromp through the nation’s epicenter for the study of Southern material culture.
  • Fundraiser for the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program at the home of Tom Gray and Paul Zickell
    (Learn more)

Sunday, April 24 – MESDA

  • The MESDA Summer Institute: Forty years of Scholarship and Transformation in Southern Material Culture Studies
    Sally Gant, Director of Education & Special Programs, MESDA
  • Presentations by recent MESDA Summer Institute alumnae
    The Marie Zimmerman Emerging Scholars Lectures

    • Family Matters: The Rope and Tassel Inlay School of East Tennessee
      Amber Clawson, Director, Historical Association of Catawba County
    • Sacred or Secular: The Life of a Mahogany Stretcher Table in Charleston
      April Strader-Bullin, Curatorial and Education Associate, MESDA
    • “Inferior to None in the Western Country: Early Stoneware Pottery Traditions in Maysville, Kentucky”
      Brenda Hornsby Heindl, Curatorial and Research Associate, MESDA
  • Much of Artistic Merit Still to Discover: MESDA’s Next Fifty Years
    Daniel Ackermann, Associate Curator, MESDA
    The John A. H. Sweeney Emerging Scholar Lecture
  • Concluding Remarks
    Matthew A. Thurlow, Executive Director, The Decorative Arts Trust


Thursday Optional Tour: Chapel Hill, Durham & Hillsborough

Thursday, April 21

8:00am – 5:00pm

We will head east from Winston-Salem to visit five sites in the Research Triangle. Our base of operations will be Ayr Mount (1815) in Hillsborough, owned by Richard Hampton Jenrette’s Classical American Homes Preservation Trust. Ayr Mount is one of the finest Federal-era residences in the Piedmont. The austere exterior belies a grand interior with high ceilings and elaborate neoclassical style woodwork and plasterwork. In addition to special tours by CAHPT Co-Presidents and Trust Governors Margize Howell and Peter Kenny, participants will also enjoy a BBQ lunch on the beautiful grounds.

Directly adjacent to Ayr Mount is the privately owned Montrose (1898), housing an eclectic collection of 18th and early-19th-century decorative and fine arts to items associated with the Bloomsbury Group to 18th-century woodwork taken from a dwelling in Hillsborough. The property contains many outbuildings dating from the 1840s, including the law office of North Carolina Governor William Alexander Graham.

The largest private collection of North Carolina maps lures us to Chapel Hill. Our hosts began collecting 15 years ago, focusing on printed maps from the 16th through the mid- 19th centuries. Their holdings include a broad variety of map types, a few of which are unique examples, and form a nearly complete cartographic history of North Carolina. Trust Governor and Colonial Williamsburg’s Curator of Maps Margaret Pritchard will assist.

Continuing to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, we will be treated to a private exhibition of highlights from the North Carolina and Rare Book Collections along with a walking tour to see Old East and Smith Hall, two university buildings designed by noted 19th-century architect Alexander Jackson Davis.

Our time at UNC will be complemented by a visit to the Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University in Durham, which has recently reopened following a multi-year renovation. The library’s staff will share a remarkable selection of maps, texts, and other historical documents that explore the early history of our nation.

Registration is limited to 70 participants.

Sunday Optional Tour 1: West to Roaring Gap

Sunday, April 24

11:30am – 7:00pm

Roaring Gap is a private summer retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains established in 1890 for prominent Piedmont families seeking a getaway from the heat. The seasonal residents came from nearby Elkin and Winston-Salem, and, later, Greensboro and Charlotte. Families commissioned house plans from the leading architects of the day. Dwellings at Roaring Gap range from the Queen Anne to Colonial Revival to Modernist styles. These houses contain an equally eclectic and impressive range of decorative and fine arts as well. Wrapping around Lake Louise, the community is anchored by an imposing clubhouse and intimate chapel attributed to the Philadelphia architect Charles Barton Keen of Reynolda House fame. Many houses also feature work by contemporary designers and architects such as Madison Spencer of Charlottesville and Norman Askins of Atlanta.

Over the course of the afternoon we will visit several private homes accompanied by multi- generational residents Stewart Butler and Constance and Lyons Gray. The visit to Roaring Gap will conclude with refreshments at a house with spectacular views overlooking the Blue Ridge.

Registration is limited to 30 participants.

Sunday Optional Tour 2: East to Greensboro

Sunday, April 24

11:30am – 7:00pm

Due east of Winston-Salem sits Körner’s Folly (1880), a truly unique house in the town of Kernersville. Jule Gilmer Körner, an interior and furniture designer and painter, used his home to showcase his aesthetics to his clients. Its unconventional design defies simple description and underwent constant renovation to accommodate new plans. Decorative murals, artwork, and Körner’s sumptuous furniture add a distinct sense of opulence.

We are invited to tour an extraordinary private collection at Crow Hill in Greensboro. A contemporary house built to designs taken from the John Vogler House (1819) in Old Salem, the dwelling includes painted woodwork from the Frances Lucas Simpson House (1815). Although the strength of the collection resides in objects from Piedmont North Carolina, the owners’ collecting interests also include complementary material from Pennsylvania and the Chesapeake.

At the Greensboro Historical Museum, curator Jon Zachman will offer a behind-the- scenes tour of the noteworthy collection of Piedmont decorative and fine arts housed there. Participants will visit storage to view important pieces of furniture as well as the charming and colorful work of the Guilford Limner, an artist recently studied by MESDA’s Sally Gant.

North Carolina Governor John Motley Morehead’s Blandwood (1846) is an Italianate style villa in Greensboro designed by nationally renowned architect Alexander Jackson Davis. The house provides visitors with a remarkably complete ensemble of 19th-century art, architecture, furnishings, and landscape. We will enjoy a closing cocktail reception in Blandwood’s octagonal coach house, also designed by Davis.

Registration is limited to 50 participants.


Fundraiser for the Emerging Scholars Program at the Historic Home of Tom Gray and Paul Zickell

Saturday, April 23


A visit to the recently restored Philip Hoehns House (1798) is a rare treat. Located in Clemmons, just west of Winston-Salem, the dwelling was the birthplace for the Hanes family, the distinguished American textile magnates. Restored with additions by former Trust Governor Tom Gray, a noted collector and preservationist, and Paul Zickell, their house demonstrates a synthesis of late Georgian and Moravian details that includes Flemish bond brickwork by Johannes Krause. The Hoehns House is surrounded by nine acres of landscaped grounds with native Piedmont trees, fences, and out buildings. The interior features Gray and Zickell’s collection of Southern and New England decorative arts, noteworthy ceramics, and American toleware. Rarely open to the public, this reception should not be missed by Trust members.

Please join us for a wonderful evening of connoisseurship and conviviality as we toast Tom and Paul’s 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 2016, more than two dozen graduate students and young professionals will benefit from the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program.

Registration is limited to 50 participants.

  • The Marriott and Embassy Suites Winston-Salem
    Special Room Rates: $129 and $135, respectively, for single or double use.
    The Trust has reserved a block of rooms for April 20-25 at these adjacent hotels. These rooms are available on a first-come first-served basis until March 21. Please make your reservations as soon as possible to ensure availability by calling the Marriott (336.724.3500) or Embassy Suites (336.725.2300) and referencing the Decorative Arts Trust Spring Symposium. N.B. The Embassy Suite rate includes breakfast.
  • The hotels are less than 30 minutes from the Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO). A variety of taxi and car service companies service Winston-Salem. City owned parking garages are located near the hotels and available for $9.00 per day for self-parking. Valet parking is also available onsite for $18.00 per night.
Terms and Conditions

Land Arrangement Cost:
$5,975 per person, based on double occupancy for 9 nights, for the main tour. Please note that this excursion is one day longer than the Trust’s typical Study Trip Abroad.

$2,075 per person, based on double occupancy for 3 nights, for the optional extension to Gdansk.

Transatlantic airfare is not included. Please do not make your airline reservations until you have received written confirmation from the Trust.

A deposit of $1,400 per person is required by September 1, 2015. An additional deposit of $600 per person is required for the optional extension to Gdansk. Reservations and deposits are taken on an “as received” basis. You will receive a written confirmation from the Decorative Arts Trust. Do not make any irrevocable airline reservations until you receive your verification. Please make your check payable to “The Decorative Arts Trust” and mail to: 20 South Olive Street, Suite 304, Media, PA 19063.

Single Supplement:
The single supplement is $1,050 for the main tour and $200 for the extension, to be paid along with the deposit.

Final Payment:
Is due by January 31, 2016. Invoices for final payment will be mailed in early January.

A Benefactor-level membership is required for participation in Study Trips Abroad. Your membership contribution is fully tax deductible. If an increase in your membership level is necessary, the Trust will invoice you for the appropriate level upgrade with your final payment.

A donation to the Decorative Arts Trust of $500 per person is required for Study Trips Abroad. This gift is fully tax deductible and helps support the Trust’s mission and programs.

The schedule outlined in this itinerary is contracted for at this time but subject to change as necessary. A Study Trip Abroad reading list will be sent to you.

The trip is limited to a maximum of 25 members and requires a minimum of 15. The optional extension to Gdansk requires a minimum of 10 participants. The trip and/or extension will be canceled if under-subscribed, and deposits will be refunded. We will organize and maintain a waiting list on the basis of the time registrations are received. This is a strenuous trip. We regret that we cannot be responsible for those needing assistance on this trip. By registering, you are certifying that you do not have any mental, physical, or other condition of disability that would create a hazard for yourself or other passengers. The Trust reserves the right to decline anyone as a participant in this Study Trip Abroad should the person’s health, actions, or general deportment impede the operation of the Study Trip Abroad or the rights, welfare, or enjoyment of others. A valid United States passport is required for this itinerary.

Included in Trip Cost:
Hotel accommodations in 4–5 star hotels, 8 buffet breakfasts, 7 lunches, 3 dinners, 1 reception, private coach transportation, local guides, admission in museums, historic houses, and gardens, gratuities for professional guides and coach drivers, and porterage for one suitcase only. The extension to Gdansk includes 3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 2 dinners.

Not Included in the Trip Cost:
Airfare, airport transfers other than specified above, alcoholic beverages other than when provided, personal expenses, and trip insurance are not included.

Cancellation and Refund:
If you must cancel your reservation, you are urged to do so as soon as possible in writing to the Decorative Arts Trust. All cancellations are subject to a $250 administrative fee. Deposits are non-refundable after September 1, 2015.

  • Cancellations arriving by February 26, 2015, will receive a 50% refund.
  • Cancellations arriving by April 8, 2016, will receive a 25% refund.
  • There will be no refunds for cancellations received after April 8, 2016.

Travel insurance is strongly recommended to protect against cancellations. 



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