Having Fun With Old Houses
by Richard H. Jenrette
A final objective of Classical American Homes Preservation Trust is to make sure that these fine old homes are enjoyed and that it is a “fun” experience to visit them. I have certainly enjoyed them during my tenure and love sharing them with others. This is not always the case with house museums. Not to keep picking on museums or my other preservation colleagues, I do feel all too often they are inclined to put the old houses in “moth balls,” so to speak, rather than enjoy or celebrate them. They were enjoyed in their time and are best enjoyed today in ways other than the standard docents’ tour, which of course can be fun but often isn’t. I believe the houses owned by CAHPT should also be opened “off hours” on special occasions – to groups that will respect the integrity of the house and enjoy it. All too often, house museums close at 5 p.m. and shut down. Yet the magic of an old house often only comes out at sunset or with candlelight. Trustees of Monticello have told me their most meaningful moments are candlelight receptions, sipping wine in the house when the spirit of Thomas Jefferson seems to return (he did love wine!).
It is my hope that the old homes that I am turning over to CAHPT – some already nearly 200 years old – will be around another 100 years or more, serving as models and guides to the spirit and aspiration of the people who founded our nation. Above all, I want visitors to these houses to have a memorable and fun visit – and then join our cause of preserving America’s heritage of classical architecture.
To preserve, protect and open to the public
examples of classical American residential architecture,
surrounding landscapes and trails,
as well as fine and decorative arts of the first half of the 19th-century.
Thank you for your interest in Classical American Homes Preservation Trust!