Happily residing at Ayr Mount now is the Philadelphia Tambour Desk and Bookcase recently donated to the Trust from Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Tananbaum. This exceptional piece of case furniture is firmly attributed to Scottish-born cabinetmaker John Aitken (1770-1814), who is celebrated as the maker of a nearly identical example for George Washington. We think Aitken would be pleased to know this tambour desk and bookcase are on display at Ayr Mount, a house built by fellow Scotsman William Kirkland (1768-1836). Come by for a visit to see our most recent acquisition as well as another important Philadelphia Federal masterpiece – a kneehole secretary owned by Judge Joseph Hopkinson (1770-1842), who served in the United States Congress for Pennsylvania between 1815 and 1819.
In December Ayr Mount’s mantles, tables, and wide gracious window sills were adorned with a seasonal bounty of hydrangeas, holly, magnolia, evergreens, boxwood,and berries. In addition to the daily tours offered, for the first time ever special evening tours were given by candlelight. Following each sold-out tour guests sipped on hot apple cider underneath the night stars.
January and February provided time for the important but unheralded work of maintaining the trails, reconditioning tractors and grounds equipment, painting, repairing the wall plaster, and replacing some original but severely deteriorated floorboards.
A small area of the original random width heart pine floorboards in the Warming Room was replaced, which provided a rare opportunity to get an “inside” view of the 200+ year old building material. Those heart pine boards measured an impressive 1 ½” inches, and were carefully replaced in kind.
The Kirkland family cemetery received several gentle cleaning treatments hewing to the established mantra for gravestone cleaning: “First, do no harm.” A non-ionic detergent was used to remove surface dirt and soften the build up of algae, lichen and fungus, followed by the application of a biochemical agent to prevent their return. This agent effectively removes biological activity without causing harm and has been tested by the National Center for Preservation Technology & Training.