Evergreen House – Context and the Past


In my last blog, I wrote about amusement parks in Maryland.  In that strange way serendipity works, I was inspired to write about a similar theme this week. On a recent commute, I was listening to a “Stuff You Missed in History” podcast about the Haunted Mansion attraction at Disneyland. I had no idea the building that served as the inspiration for the Haunted Mansion was the Evergreen House on the campus of Johns Hopkins University. A quick Google Image search on both buildings confirmed the similarities between them (Figures 1 and 2).

evergreen house

Figure 1. The Evergreen House in Baltimore inspired the facade of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion.

The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland is set in New Orleans Square, an area within the theme park based on 19th-century New Orleans.  Designers of the haunted house searched to no avail in that city and throughout the Deep South for architectural inspiration for the Haunted Mansion. The inspiration came instead from a mid-19th century Gilded Age mansion in Baltimore, once home to the railroad magnate Garrett family and now a 48-room museum and library.  The museum’s website describes the facility as “an intimate collection of fine and decorative arts, rare books and manuscripts assembled by two generations of the philanthropic Garrett family, and a vibrant, inspirational venue for contemporary artists” (Evergreen 2014).

disneyland haunted mansion

Figure 2. The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland with Thunder Mountain in the background.

danish axe

Figure 3. Danish ax or hammer from the Mayer Collection.

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Gloria S. King Research Fellowship in Archaeology Award Announced


The Maryland Archaeological Conservation (MAC) Laboratory is pleased to announce they have selected Christopher Shephard as the recipient of the 2013 Gloria S. King Research Fellowship in Archaeology.  Mr. Shephard is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at the College of William and Mary.  He is researching the exchange of copper and shell objects among Algonquian societies of the late Woodland through early Colonial periods and the rise and transformation of chiefly authority across the southern Middle Atlantic.  During his fellowship, Mr. Shephard will be studying several archaeological collections curated at the lab to look at questions related to the nature of competitive gift-giving and feasting in the negotiation of power and authority among the indigenous societies of the Tidewater. Continue reading

Erin Go Bragh! “Home Rule” Tobacco Pipes and Ireland’s Struggle for Independence (from March 2013 Curator’s Choice)


The following article is part of JPPM’s ‘Curator’s Choice’ series.

During the mid-19th century, Irish immigrants flocked to  America to escape the Great Irish Potato Famine (Figure 1).  The famine, which lasted from 1845 to 1852,  was brought on by potato blight, a disease that devastated the potato harvests  across Europe.  In Ireland, where  approximately one third of the population was entirely dependent on the potato  for food, the famine reduced the population by almost two million, many of whom  immigrated to the United States (Irish Potato Famine 2012). Continue reading

President Grover Cleveland Match Safe


Grover Cleveland Match Safe 2

This small, decorative object depicting the profile of President Grover Cleveland is the partial remains of a match safe recovered from the Jackson Homestead site, an African-American site in Montgomery County, MD. The complete object, measuring 6.5 cm by 4.5 cm, would have had a matching profile on the opposite side and a hinged lid at the neck. Match safes were small, portable metal cases used to keep matches dry and, since early matches could be unreliable, a match safe also prevented accidental ignition. They came into use in the 1830s and were particularly popular between 1890 and 1920. Match safes of political figures were common as campaign items.

Another Mystery Solved! The King George Wine Glass


A few months ago at the Smith’s St. Leonard site, volunteers and crew discovered a small colorless glass fragment. Finding glass at an archaeological site is not that unusual since it preserves fairly well in the ground. So what makes this little fragment so blog worthy you ask? This piece is very thick, with a square shape and curved figures molded on the sides. We were a little stumped when the piece was initially found. What type of vessel was it from? Is the molding a design or letters? Is it even contemporary to the site (1711-1754)? Left scratching our heads, the artifact was put back into its bags and we continued with fieldwork.

king george glass 1king george glass 2 Continue reading

Lake George Plate—Mystery Solved!


Earlier this summer, JPPM intern Sharon Osofsky studied artifacts from a mid-19th century privy in Baltimore. One interesting artifact tossed into the privy pit was a white earthenware plate printed with a scene of Lake George, New York (Figure 1). The back of the plate had a mark (Figure 2) that indicated that it had been manufactured by the British pottery firm of William Ridgway and Company. Continue reading

Over and Under: A New Exhibit at JPPM


Whole exhibit

There’s a new exhibit at the Visitor’s Center that will run through October 17. The temporary exhibit titled “Over and Under: Accessories and Undergarments of the Early 1800s” features original pieces that went under or over a person’s outfit to create the romantic look that people associate with the early 19th century. Accessories include a dignified top hat, a man’s tobacco pouch, and showy beaded purses, while rare undergarments will educate viewers about clothes not often seen in period art. Highlights include knit socks with the date “1819” on them, a corset and shift marked with the name of their owners, a “figure enhancer” used to strategically stuff a corset, and a pair of silk garters embroidered with the flirty French warning, “Halte la, on ne passe pas” which means “Stop here, go no further.”

Bust Enhancer

The exhibit is designed to coincide with the JPPM 1812 Fair and Reenactment September 22, but the items exhibited show trends in fashion throughout the first half of the 19th century. The objects are not part of JPPM’s permanent collections, but instead came together based on loans offered by JPPM staff. Sara Rivers Cofield, Federal Curator at the MAC Lab, has been collecting clothing and purses since her grandmother, Charlotte Rivers, helped her buy her first antique purse over 20 years ago. Now family heirlooms from Charlotte Rivers, who died last October at the age of 99, are included in the exhibit. Betty Seifert, JPPM Curator, contributed her great grandmother’s knitting needles to the exhibit, and Michele Parlett, Public Services Coordinator, loaned the top hat and its carrying case from her family’s antique shop, Keeper’s Antiques, in Charlotte Hall, Maryland.

Shirt & Hat

In order to flesh out the themes that the staff collections could illustrate, we turned to independent scholar and collector Mary Doering for some additional pieces. Mary, who teaches courses on costume history for the Smithsonian-George Mason University Masters Program on the History of Decorative Arts, often loans her collections to museums and historic sites, including current exhibits on the War of 1812 and the Civil War at the Maryland Historical Society. By combining the high-quality pieces in Mary’s collections with the personal heirlooms and collections of staff, the exhibit offers rare garments and accessories, eye candy, and personal stories. A little something for everyone!