Looking for Russell Cushman art ?: http://russellcushmanart.blogspot.com/

Looking for BLUES HISTORY?


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A virtual TIME CAPSULE! in Montgomery, Texas

I'd seen this old mansion in Montgomery as a youngster, but never had the chance to see the inside of it, much less photograph it as an adult, when I could appreciate it... and then an acquaintence with the historical society there called me with a rare opportunity... I was there in less than an HOUR!

 Soon to be sold, grandchildren of the Weisingers, the last people to live in the house, allowed me to have a peek inside this stately home, which was built in 1854.

Known as "Magnolia,"  the house was constructed by Peter Willis and his slaves, and furnished with items he shipped all the way from New York. Later Willis' daughter Magnolia, named after the house, married George Sealy, and his company, Magnolia Oil was named for her. What I saw inside was a jaw-dropping Texas antique collection, much of it sitting just as it had been arranged by Anna Weisinger, and left untouched for years. Mrs. Weisinger was a knowledgable collector, and had kept the house original and in keeping with the period.

The experience was such a priviledge, from walking up the stairs on Mrs Weisinger's hand-hooked runner, to inspecting her collection of Kirbee Pottery
 This celebrated salt-glazed stoneware whiskey jug was featured in a book on Texas Stoneware and was the only image I had in my head of Kirbee stoneware for many years. Here it was, resting quietly on an old cabinet... which was full of Civil War era treasures.

Perhaps the most exciting find, for me, was this little chunk of fired clay... found on "Juggery Creek" not far away... where the Kirbee Pottery operated. It shows just how coarse and red the clay was here. This is an important clue to identifying stoneware from this region.
This was found in 1971, probably during a dig led by University of Texas archeologists. Perhaps a piece of kiln furniture, this was placed in the kiln before firing to separate vessels, or level them, and keep one from leaning over and falling into another. 
For everyone else, one of the most fascinating items would be this fabulous early hand-inked Texas Masonic apron. The artist who embellished this silk artifact was one of true talent and craftsmanship. This draftsman not only understood masonic symbols, but perspective, human anatomy and chiarascuro. Few Texans of that period possessed this knowledge. It might have been Dr. Charles Bellinger Stewart, Montgomery's favorite son who designed the Texas flag. But I have never seen any artwork by him, other than that. Another candidate could, ironically, be William Quesenbury, the artist written about in the blog below...
The furniture is very impressive, and it is too bad this collection might be dispersed, because it has important historical context. Rarely does one find so much in one place, with such great provenance.

The angels sang when I came upon this magnificant four-poster. They went into orbit when I looked up underneath the tester...

Now that's a WOW!
A stack of rare, cased, tinted Texas ambrotypes. One is of William Landrum, a relative, and early Texas pioneer.
Thanks to Dudley for calling me about this rare chance to see such things, intact, before they are swept away forever. And thanks again to Mrs. Frank, who so graciously let a stranger in her door.
Hopefully, some divine force will keep an eye on these precious items.

No comments: