Margize Howell, Co-President of Classical American Homes, will be the focus of this Newsletter’s Profile. Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Margize credits her appreciation the arts at a young age to her parents, who have a love for history, art and architecture. She pursued this interest at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta and then earned a B.A. from the University of Virginia with distinction in Art History. Margize says she had an “a-ha” moment during her first Art History class; she knew then she had found her calling. She further broadened her education in the arts at the Sotheby’s Art Institute in London, The Attingham Summer School, and the Winter Institute at The Winterthur Museum.
Margize began working at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette in 1984 as Curator, where she oversaw the firm’s acclaimed collection of early 19th-century Americana — antique furniture, paintings, and manuscripts. The DLJ Collection grew and thrived under Margize’s stewardship until DLJ was sold to Credit Suisse in 2001, at which time she joined Dick Jenrette at Classical American Homes. Margize has been with CAHPT since that time, serving as Curator, Director of Development, and Executive Director, before being named Co-President (along with Peter Kenny) in 2014.
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In addition to her work at CAHPT, Margize has served as President for the American Friends of Attingham Summer School, the Association of Professional Art Advisors, and the National Association of Corporate Art Managers. She is a Governor of the Board of the Decorative Arts Trust, on the Advisory Board of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Charleston Heritage Symposium, and the Director’s Council of New York City’s Historic House Trust. She has also served on the Board of Trustees for the Williamstown (Mass.) Art Conservation Lab and on the Advisory Committee of The Equitable Gallery in New York.
As Co-President of CAHPT, Margize oversees the Trust’s affairs in terms of both strategic planning as well as day-to-day operations. Margize says that the foremost priority of the organization is to preserve and maintain the six historic sites it owns or will eventually own. These sites are unique, she says, not only because of their history and Dick Jenrette’s meticulous restoration, but also because of the full experience they create for a visitor. Guests are able to take in the beauty of the site: the architecture of these historic houses, the period furnishings and paintings (many of which are original to the houses), along with handsome gardens and idyllic landscapes. Each of these elements help to create a multi-sensory experience, bringing American history into the present. Margize would like each guest to leave with a heightened appreciation for these sites and their history, regardless of their background and prior level of interest.
Margize’s favorite part of her job is having the chance to travel to CAHPT’s properties and to meet so many interesting people who are genuinely inspired by their experience. She gives the lion’s share of credit for CAHPT’s success to her assembly of site supervisors and their teams, as well as the New York City team at the “main office” in New York. She describes each of her hardworking colleagues as taking pride in what they do, and make her job of overseeing the houses a fun and rewarding venture.
Margize also emphasizes that working with Dick Jenrette is a once in a lifetime opportunity. “Dick is an individual who not only has taught me so much about the many facets of historic houses and historic preservation with his vast knowledge on each of these subjects but also so much more. His sense of fairness, generosity, intelligence and humor are all attributes I respect so much as well.”
Margize lives in Manhattan and has two sons, Clark and Pearce, and a bulldog named Mac. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling, gardening, going to the theater, as well as volunteering as a leader of a local Girl Scout troop where she was recently given the Leader of Excellence Award. Check out our website for details on upcoming events, or schedule a tour of one of our houses to see the amazing work that Margize has done, and continues to do to preserve these reflections of American Heritage.