As part of our upcoming Festival on May 7th, we’d like to invite people to join in the fun and be part of our Community Curators Tent. Do you collect something unique? Something fun? Something awesome? Come show off your collection to everyone at our Festival and be the expert. Participants will be allowed to sell items they bring if they so choose. For more information and if you’d like to participate please email email@example.com
People who use wheelchairs or have mobility challenges can now visit the City of Salisbury’s Poplar Hill Mansion, which has added an incline lift. The lift, which allows visitors with physical disabilities to access the first floor of Poplar Hill Mansion, is located at the back of the home. Since it is an incline lift, not an elevator lift, the look is unobtrusive and fits in with the home’s aesthetic.
“I’m excited that more people will be able to visit Poplar Hill Mansion, whether it is for a tour, a public event, or a private event like a wedding,” said Curator Sarah Meyers. “This lift makes Poplar Hill Mansion more inclusive for everyone.”
The lift holds up to 550 pounds and can fit a traditional or motorized wheelchair and its user. People who use walkers or canes, or families with strollers, can also use the lift. The back door located by the new lift already met Americans with Disabilities Act standards, and the stairs at this door that the lift runs alongside were rebuilt. There is enough space for someone to walk alongside the person using the lift. Poplar Hill Mansion’s public bathroom, located on the first floor, was remodeled to fit ADA standards in 2020.
“This lift will make one of Salisbury’s most important historical places accessible to an entirely new group of visitors,” said Mayor Jack Heath. “We’re proud to add Poplar Hill Mansion to the growing list of accessible spaces in the City of Salisbury, and we’re excited to share its history with each and every one of our residents.”
The Chair of the Board, David Scheid is once again bringing his Environmental Studies class to PHM to work in the gardens. This time they are tackling the are in the rear west corner of the grounds. This area has been overgrown with invasive plants like ivy, Virginia creeper, weeds, tree saplings, and wisteria. The Field Operations division of the City came out and cleared the entire area as much as they could and did a great job in doing so. The students were then able to come in and clear out a few more of the smaller invasive plants. This left a blank slate, which will eventually become a woodland garden. The class is all about sustainable design. The students will be designing this garden and develop what will eventually go into the area. There is enough room in the area to house a 20’x20′ educational outdoor pavilion. This has been something that PHM has wanted for a while with all the students from the envionmental studies classes and school groups that we get. An educational pavilion would allow us to expand our educational programming and even possible allow some adult educational programming about gardening. The students this year were even tasked with the opportunity to help come up with a design for the pavilion. It would be in the historic style reminiscent of the Federal Period (more than likely wooden, octagonal, with Chinese Chippendale railings). This will be a long term project, which will probably take several years and quite a bit of fundraising.
We are undergoing the final phase in our paint and plaster restoration and repair on the first floor of the Mansion and in the stairwell. John and Dana are at it again! John has been hard at work doing all the plaster repair in the Surgery Room and Main Staircase. Over the years, some of the plaster has separated on the lower half of the walls. Someone had attempted to repair these cracks before, but did not use the proper historic technique. John, who has a specialty in historic homes, has been doing a great job repairing previous repair attempts and doing it the proper way. With all of his work progressing nicely, Dana was once again able to come in and work her magic with the paint. Once again, using the paint analysis done several years ago, we were able to restore the Surgery Room back to the Huston Era. The room is described as being bright with a greenish paint over the golden ochre below the chair rail and marbling similiar to what would have been in the connecting room (the Butler’s Closet) between the Surgery Room and the Parlor. The crown molding and the chair rail also had specific coloration that had to be followed. Through some trial and error, Dana came up with colors that pretty well match exactly what was being described. The lower half of the room was especially an interesting transformation and finding just the right shades of gold and green was a lot of work. Dana used the same technique on the walls as she did in the Parlor to make the room light and bright. The outcome was a total transformation of the Surgery Room and it looks amazing!
What a great holiday season at Poplar Hill Mansion! Our Yuletide Open House was held in conjunction with the Newtown Neighborhood Holiday House Tour. The Mansion welcomed over 300 guests the first Sunday in December who were treated to seeing the Mansion with arrangements by the Four Seasons Garden Club on the first floor and fully decorated on the second floor with a Christmas village, Christmas tree with over 1,500 ornaments, and Nutcrackers. Guests also got to enjoy home-baked cookies and punch as they learned more about the Mansion and some fot he holiday traditions of the Huston Family of the early 1800s. Our annual favorite, Tea with Santa and Mrs. Claus was also just as busy. Children of all ages got to visit with the big guy himself and tell him exactly what they wanted for Christmas (we have a feeling a lot of Squishmallows were under trees this year). Santa always loves his time at Poplar Hill and says we have the best kids come to visit!
Did you know that Poplar Hill Mansion is considered Salisbury’s most haunted house? At least five permanent spirits are thought to be in the house with many more who come and go. Not surprising, considering the Mansion was the home of Dr. John Huston, who conducted many surgeries right in the house and the amount of people who have died in the house over its 225 year history. PHM recently participated in International Ghost Hunting Day by hosting the Phantom Detectives investigation team. They came in to see if they could find any evidence of the spirits who dwell in the Mansion. Part of their team includes a psychic medium who visits sites blindly without knowing the history. She instantly picked up on the presence of prominent man and his wife. In fact, she sensed multiple spirits in the house including children and an enslaved man, all with a positive energy. Their equipment also picked up several spirits in the house and their spirit boxes voiced words that seemed to coincide with what we know of the history of the house and those who lived and died here. We look forward to seeing the results of their full investigation. If you want to learn more about the haunted history of Poplar Hill, we are hosting several events for Halloween, including our popular Annual Halloween Party on the night of October 28th. We are also having an event just for the kids on October 29th from 12:00-2:00. Our Jack O’Lantern Jubilee will have games, costume parade, pumpkin painting, movies, fun prizes, and more. That evening we are excited to announce that we have partnered with the Community Players of Salisbury as they present Edgar Allen Poe: Master of Terror, a show featuring memorized, word-for-word telling of The Tell-Tale Heart, The Raven, and The Black Cat, as well as a special presentation of W.W. Jacobs’ story, The Monkey’s Paw. For more information about upcoming events be sure to visit our Facebook page.
In 2010, the Mansion underwent a paint restoration to bring back the original wall colors in the Dining Room, Hallway, Butler Closet, Parlor, and Surgery Room. During that restoration the Dining Room took on its red and yellow color scheme, the Parlor was also painted with a yellow around its windows, and the Hallway and Surgery Room woodwork was marbleized with a faux finish. The restoration in progress is taking that a step further. The baseboard in the Dining Room, Parlor, and Butler Closet are currently a brown color, which is the first period of the house. These baseboards were marbleized during the Huston period and the original marbleization can be seen. The fireplaces in the Dining Room and Parlor were also marbleized. This has been determined through paint scrapings taken in each of the rooms going through all the layers of paint to the original layer over the wood. Working with local artist, Dana Simson, the Mansion is having all of the marbling restored. The Dining Room has a lovely white marbling affect which will blend in with the Pompeii Red and Golden Ochre quite nicely. The Parlor and Butler Closet have a more blue/gray tone, which will also pair well with the Golden Ochre and the Napoleonic Blue, which will take the place of the current teal color (which is also not an original color). In addition to the paint restoration, we are also taking the opportunity to repair some of the plastering, repaint some minor water damage around the windows, have some of the rugs in the Mansion cleaned and repaired, and update a couple exhibits. The Mansion is closed during this restoration, which is expected to last through the second week of August. Please check our website for updates and thank you for your patience while we make these improvements to the Mansion, and more importantly, thank you for your generosity, as it is only through contributions from our supporters which make restoration projects like this possible.
The museum is premiering a new temporary exhibit during Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month entitled “The Influence of Asian Art During the Federal Period.” This exhibit explores the trade between America and China (and other Asian nations) in the early 1800s. Did you know that in the early 1800s China actually imported more American goods than America did from China? Do you know what the most important export to China was?
There had always been a general American, especially among the wealthy, desire for foreign and sometimes exotic wares, and, with the British East India Company no longer the dominant force in American trade, after the American War for Independence, the job of satisfying this demand fell to American merchants. It did not take long to realize that, while selling American goods to the Chinese was undoubtedly profitable, selling Chinese goods in America would be considerably more so. What resulted was the flooding of Chinese teas, cotton, silks, rhubarb, cassia, nankeens (durable, yellow cloth), floor-matting, lacquerware, fans, furniture, and porcelains, into America, to the extent that even those of poor social classes possessed some Chinese items.
These items became so popular, in fact, that European manufacturers mimicked Asian art. Chinoiserie (“Chinese-like”) describes the pseudo-Chinese decorative style which flourished in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries. It was based on a fanciful European interpretation of “Chinese” styles, taken from countries all over East Asia, including China, Korea and Japan. Most Western consumers were quite unable to distinguish Chinese from Korean or Japanese imagery. For them, the attraction of Chinoiserie lay in its Far Eastern exoticism. Porcelain ware was especially popular – especially the blue and white porcelain associated with the era of Ming Dynasty art (1368-1644) – and remained a constant feature of Chinoiserie.
The exhibit features some of these imported goods as well as pieces of Chinoiserie including ceramics, lacquerware, porcelain, embroidery, and silk screening. All the items are from the museum collection and the exhibit will last through 2022.
Please join us for a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the new Pollinator Garden at Poplar Hill Mansion developed and installed by Professor David Sheid and his Salisbury University students and made possible through the generosity of the Maryland State Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Samuel Chase Chapter, NSDAR, Wicomico Women’s Club, City of Salisbury, Gen. Deggendorf Memorial Fund, Jane Dibbern Memorial Fund, and the Board of Directors of the Friends of Poplar Hill Mansion, Thursday, May 20 at 11:00 a.m. Followed by a light luncheon in the Mansion.
We would like to give Nancy Robertson a great big thank you as she finishes her terms on the Board of Directors of PHM. Nancy has served two terms (6 years) on the board, including a two your term as Chair. Nancy is a lifelong resident of the Wicomico County on the Eastern Shore and graduated from Wi-Hi. She is retired and enjoys relaxing and spending time with her cats, playing Bingo, and serves on the board of her retirement community. She also has worked with several other local historic organizations such as Wicomico Preservation Trust and the Westside Historical Society. She is currently devoting most of her time to the Whitehaven Heritage Association where she is heading efforts to restore the roof on the Whitehaven Church. For more information about those efforts please visit, www.whitehavenheritage.com. We want to wish Nancy the best of luck in her future endeavors!!!