Director’s Report – March 2022

The wheel comes full circle, and with it, the seasons change and the landscape becomes brighter, more vibrant and ever hopeful.

Each new day here at the Fenton I greet with much enthusiasm and vigor as there is much to see and do. The mansion displays superb craftsmanship in marble, wood, metal, and glass and is representative of a true Victorian life experience of which I am in complete wonder. As with any stately home, its origins and pedigree provides a unique window of opportunity for visitors to be a part of our preservation efforts.

Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman in the Decoration of Houses, 1897 reflect on the following, “Changes in manners and customs, no matter under what forms of government, usually originate with the wealthy or aristocratic minorities and are thence transmitted to other classes.” Author John Mass in his work entitled The Victorian Home in America stated, “The design for living was set at the turn of the twentieth century. Almost every new house was connected to water and sewer pipes and was wired for electric light and telephone. The railroad network was complete from coast to coast, the automobile was on the road, the airplane was three years away. The present had arrived.” Clearly, the spirit of ingenuity, discovery and progress are at the forefront of our experience here in terms of what we glean from the past and how we continue to move forward in the present.

Literally, as I move from one room to the next within the mansion I am struck by the Victorian sensibilities of window and swag drapery treatments, parlors, sitting rooms, high ceilings, marble fireplaces, and unique light figures. The present has indeed arrived. As many homes of many rich Americans were designed to look like a Scottish castle, and English manor, a French chateau, or in the case of the Fenton’s local architect, Aaron Hall’s inspiration, an Italian villa derived from rural estates in Italy, there remains the need to continue to preserve and yet embrace change in merry measure.

Our volunteers continually contribute countless hours to our preservation efforts here. 

We recently undertook a painting and plasterwork project on the second floor of the museum in keeping with the monumental task of maintenance and repair projects. This year we will continue to make improvements to the Museum and Research Center from many perspectives; exhibit development, gift shop enhancements, digitalization of archives and more to engage visitors in their discovery of the Fenton.

As we sow, we shall reap…plans in 2022 will revolve around growth. Our campaigns moving forward will focus on “Growing With Us” as we engage the community with our outreach initiatives. Our desire to grow, stimulate growth and our quest for knowledge inherently brings us full circle. 

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