2019 VOLUME 40

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Taste and Harmony Without Frippery at Blandwood, North Carolina Governor John Motley Morehead’s Antebellum Mansion

Judith Z. Cushman Hammer

In 1844, as Governor John Motley Morehead launched an expansion of Blandwood, his Greensboro, North Carolina residence, he embraced emerging national trends in architectural design and the arts, and, at the same time, adhered to regional tastes. Morehead hired the noted architect Alexander Jackson Davis of New York City to undertake the project, and over the next few years they discussed the furnishings and interior details as well as the building of Blandwood. Their conversations reveal the nuanced taste of a forward-thinking statesman and the broad tastemaker role of a prominent architect. Ultimately, Blandwood reflects Morehead’s respect for North Carolina’s political climate, agrarian setting, and industrial future as well as Davis’s vision for a harmonious blend of architecture, landscape, and furnishings. This antebellum mansion, as a result, not only documents a significant statesman/architect partnership but also embodies tensions apparent in nineteenth century material culture.   — ♦♦◊♦♦ —   As … Continued

Editor’s Welcome

Gary Albert

This year marks a personal milestone: I have now lived in North Carolina longer than I’ve lived anywhere else. The South has been my home for over twenty years, and I hope never to leave. It is with great pride that I say that, while I may not be a southerner by birth, I am a southerner by choice! This tidbit of information about your dear editor is revealed in order to place into context my embarrassment when I explained to Judith Cushman Hammer that I had not visited Blandwood, the subject of Judith’s article in this year’s MESDA Journal. Located in Greensboro, only thirty miles from my home in Winston-Salem, Blandwood is the residence of North Carolina Governor John Motley Morehead that was significantly updated in the 1840s by the renowned architect Alexander Jackson Davis. My face reddened even further as I learned from Judith about the history of … Continued

Female Education and the Ornamental Arts in Antebellum Tennessee

Jennifer C. Core and Janet S. Hasson

In 1836 Rev. W. R. Thomason of the Pulaski Female Academy in Giles County, Tennessee stated that the goal of female education was “to preserve and cultivate the ornamental character of the female sex.”[1] During the years of Tennessee’s settlement and early statehood, public education was non-existent. In the early nineteenth century, the first small, private schools were established by clergymen or individual proprietors, or subscription schools were created in which a consortium of parents hired a teacher. Some children had private tutors. Students only went to school if their parents could afford it, and male education took priority. Nashville had public schools by 1852 and Memphis followed suit in 1858; however, it was not until after the Civil War that a state-wide, public school system was established.[2] Children aged two to six who were not educated at home might attend dame schools, called infant schools in Tennessee, which met … Continued

Cabinetmaker John Brown and the Tall Case Clocks of Wellsburg, West Virginia, 1800–1825

Sumpter Priddy III

A group of five tall case clocks made during the first quarter of the nineteenth century has drawn attention of decorative arts scholars and collectors for more than fifty years. With movements made by three different clockmakers, all five are housed in cases produced by the same unidentified cabinetmaker. A recent evaluation of historic documents and extant woodwork now makes it possible to attribute these remarkable clock cases to the hand of John Brown (1761–1835) of Wellsburg, Brooke County, Virginia (now West Virginia). John Brown’s clock cases are exceptional not only for the quality of their design and quantity of inlay but also for the seminal moment that they represent in the cultural life of Virginia’s northwestern frontier. Despite the distance to eastern urban centers, Wellsburg stood ideally situated on the banks of the Ohio River, where it flourished as a commercial center. Eastern settlers heading west to the Mississippi … Continued


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