Wayyyyy back in the middle of December, on behalf of IGDC, I was offered the opportunity to photograph Tudor Place, a National Historic Landmark, which was completed in 1816, lived in by six generations of a single family, and opened to the public in 1988.
To say that the Custis-Peter family, who lived there from the 18th through the 20th centuries, was thorough at chronicling life at Tudor Place might be an understatement. A near obsessive attention to detail chronicling daily life at the estate, while a bit bizarre, has left us with a meticulous look back through history at what life was like in the early days of Georgetown, Washington, DC, and America, in general. To quote from their website:
With an object collection representing every period of the estate’s occupation since 1805, Tudor Place is a time capsule of culture. Its 15,000-plus objects span three centuries and include a range of cultural touchstones from Martha and George Washington’s personal items to Asian and European decorative arts, musical instruments, garden implements, weaponry, 20th-century couture, and a 1919 automobile. In domestic furnishings alone, the Collection encompasses an extensive aggregation of early American silver, porcelain and ceramics from Europe and Asia.
While most house museums reflect the tastes and styles of one era, Tudor Place’s nearly encyclopedic accumulation reflects more than 200 years of American social, political, and economic history.
In addition to objects, the family kept detailed journals about life at the estate. The journals and collections are so extensive that it allows the curatorial staff at Tudor Place to create very specific themed installations. This past holiday season the installation was titled, "An Illuminated Christmas, 1914," and gave visitors a glimpse at what would've been the first holiday season at the estate with electricity. Furniture and decorations on view were those that would've been in the estate during 1914. I think this might be the closest thing to time travel that we have available. The Custis-Peter family kept such detailed records that we can even surmise what they had for Christmas dinner based on delivery receipts and other artifacts kept in their records.
The upstairs bedrooms are furnished and displayed so meticulously that wandering around almost felt a bit voyeuristic — as though the owners might be back at any moment and scold me for snooping. (Of note: the chest-on-chest in the hallway, below, used to belong to Martha and George Washington.)
The curatorial staff was gracious enough to take the time to give me extensive notes about many of the items in my photos but the items below were the ones I found most fascinating:
Coffee mill, iron, brass, wood, porcelain, by Enterprise Manufacturing Company, Philadelphia, manufactured 1876 -1900.
Exhibited at 1876 Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia. Painted medal on back reads "AWARDED BY UNITED STATES CENTENNIAL COMMISSION NATIONAL EXHIBITION // PHILADELPHIA MDCCCIXXVI "
Tudor Place is located at 1644 31st St NW, Washington, DC, 20007.
House seen by guided tour only, offered on the hour with final daily tour at 3 p.m.
Book online up to 24 hours before tour time; otherwise, call to reserve: 202.965.0400. Walk-ins welcome as space permits, but reservations are recommended at week-ends and peak seasons, including February Dollar Days.
Upcoming events and programming calendar can be viewed here.