It is our pleasure to announce that Classical has turned 20 this year!
We cannot believe how far we’ve come since our founding in 1993, all thanks to your generous support and sustained interest in what we do. Because of friends and supporters like you, Classical American Homes has been able to continue our preservation mission. The story began….
Classical American Homes started as a non-profit foundation in December 1993 with the gift of Ayr Mount, built circa 1815, in Hillsborough, NC. Ayr Mount was our first historic house museum. (Photos on this page are from our 20th Anniversary Reception at Ayr Mount. Click here to read about the special event as well as to see more pictures from the reception.) The Baker Houses’ carriage house at 69 East 93rd Street was the next house to be given in 1996 to CAHPT for use as its headquarters. The most recent gift is Millford Plantation in Sumter County, SC in 2008. Roper House, Cane Garden, Edgewater and Baker House at 67 East 93rd Street are all still private residences of Dick Jenrette’s and are slated to be given to CAHPT at a future date.
Classical American Homes was founded with a mission to preserve, protect and open to the public examples of American residential architecture, surrounding landscapes and scenic trails, fine and decorative arts for the first half of the nineteenth century. This has remained unchanged, except for the addition of “surrounding landscapes and scenic trails.” With approximately 1000 acres comprising the property at all six houses, we realize the overall significance the land plays in relationship to these houses and the enjoyment it provides to the visitor. Over time we have purchased property surrounding our houses to further protect them from encroaching development.
One of the most dramatic changes has been the steady increase in visitation. We have had more than 200,000 visitors in twenty years — our properties attracting individuals with a range of interests from the decorative arts to landscape architecture to hiking. Of all demographics the baby boomers are the most popular now that they are now retired and have more free time.
We began with providing public tours at Ayr Mount in 1993 and have expanded them to Millford. We also host events at the properties such as receptions, lectures, concerts, picnics — to name a few. The houses take on a new vitality when acting as the backdrop at these types of events. Recent happenings such as Music at Millford and the 20th Anniversary Reception at Ayr Mount reflect how many of our supporters enjoy connecting in a new way with these houses.
There have been many other significant changes in the last twenty years. Classical American Homes began with a staff of two (Bill and Schatzie Crowther at Ayr Mount), and now has 14 employees. The Board of Directors has also expanded to a dedicated group of 14 Directors. There are four publications associated with these houses, and a fifth, Columns by the Sea, written by Dick Jenrette, provides an in-depth look at Roper House in Charleston, which will soon be published. Over the last two decades, it has been rewarding to see many art acquisitions in particular, with objects original to the houses finding their way “home.” Along with these acquisitions, the collection’s scholarship has also expanded. Through the years we have also formed friendships and alliances with both local and national, like-minded organizations, which has been gratifying. To preserve the past, our use of technology has expanded to include a social media presence such as Facebook and Pinterest. In the next few weeks, stay tuned for the launch of our newly designed website!
We look forward to sharing the next 20 years with you, which also promise to be filled with more preservation adventures with old and new friends.