White House

White House Wednesday | Behind the Stanchions | What is That?

By Bryce VanStavern
White House Specialist

As visitors go through the White House of the Confederacy, one of their most common questions is, “What is that?” There are many items in the house, unique to the 19th century, the purpose of which is initially…illusive. There are three objects in particular that we will most certainly be asked about on almost every tour. If you have ever wondered which are the most asked about objects in the house, read on.

White House Wednesday | Lambrequins

By Robert Hancock
Senior Curator and Director of Collections

Lambrequins are elaborate draperies which hang from the top of a window, door, or even a mantel. Mantel lambrequins were used to soften the hard look of a marble fireplace. Though available commercially to homeowners, many were still made by the ladies of the house to show off their needlecraft. A single embroidered lambrequin could take more than 100 hours of work to complete. 

White House Wednesday | Behind the Stanchions | Summer Ventilation

By Bryce VanStavern
White House Specialist

On a recent morning, the weather app on my phone told me it was 35 degrees outside and my car was frosty. Not unusual for March in Virginia, where it’s 80 degrees one day and 30 the next on a regular basis. (The joke this year goes, “I said, ‘You can’t go through all four seasons in a week,’ and Virginia said, ‘Watch this.’”)

White House Wednesday | Ordnance Prototypes

By Robert Hancock
Senior Curator and Director of Collections

Today we might call President Jefferson Davis a micro-manager. He took interest in a variety of aspects in the running of the war which probably could have been left to subordinates. On the mantel of his home office we find two prototype artillery projectiles. These wooden models (the actual projectiles were made of iron) were the type that served as patterns in the government’s Patent Office.

White House Wednesday | Mary O'Melia

By Bryce VanStavern
White House Specialist

One of the things we try to do as the education and interpretive staff at the American Civil War Museum is make sure our visitors understand how war affects everyone. It is not just soldiers that get caught up in the onslaught of war. Civilians too can find their lives drastically changed. One such person during the American Civil War was Mary O’Melia.

White House Wednesday | White House Evening Tours Give Voice to Untold Stories

By Patrick Saylor
Director, Marketing Communication

Old homes hold many stories within their walls, and the house at 12th and Clay Streets in Richmond is no exception. As the residence of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his family from 1861-1865, the White House was the scene of many conversations and interactions, both public and private, among family members, free and enslaved servants, and visitors.

White House Wednesday | Behind the Stanchions | Two Men, Two Different Choices

By Bryce VanStavern
Interpretation Supervisor

I once worked with an interpreter who told a visitor, “I can’t answer any question that begins, ‘Why did they’.” I chuckled at that, but he did go on to explain that sometimes we simply cannot understand motivation. In many cases, well meaning attempts to understand the “Why did they” question leads to some extraordinary and persistent myths.

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