Jun
25
Tue
Tea & Talk – “The Tragic Story of the Majestic Normandie Ocean Liner”
Jun 25 @ 4:00 pm

Author Richard René Silvin returns to the mansion to present a Tea & Talk on the subject of his latest book, Normandie, the Tragic Story of the Most Majestic Ocean Liner. He will make his visual presentation on Tuesday, June 25 at 4:00 pm.  Following will be a Victorian tea during which the speaker will autograph copies of his book.

His father was French and his mother was American. With lasting memories of crossing the Atlantic as a child accompanying his parents on such splendid ocean liners as Ile de France, the Queen Elizabeth and even the last completed crossing of the Andrea Doria, Silvin focuses on the French Line’s most glorious and glamorous flagship that first set sail from Le Havre on May 29, 1935.  Normandie died an inglorious death by fire at a New York dock on the Hudson River on February 10, 1942, two months after Pearl Harbor and with war ravaging in Europe.

Silvin introduces us to his book by stating, “The story of Normandie’s demise affected me deeply as a young child. I read as much as I could about her life and death. I studied her deck plans and craved hearing anyone’s stories about their crossing aboard her…I used to boast that, even though I had never set foot on Normandie, I could give tours of all her astonishing public rooms and many of her private suites.”

Silvin, who resides in Palm Beach, Florida, maintains a particularly active interest in historic preservation as vice-chairman of the Palm Beach Landmarks Preservation Commission.  He is the author of Noblesse Oblige, the Duchess of Windsor as I Knew Her, the subject of his lecture at Ventfort Hall last year.  He is also the author of I Survived Swiss Boarding Schools: An Arc to Triumph and Villa Mizner: The House That Changed Palm Beach.

The summer 2019 series of fourteen Tea & Talks are sponsored by Ventfort Hall board member Lucille Landa and William Landa.

Cost to attend the Silvin talk are $28 for advance reservations and $32 day of the event.  Reservations are highly recommended as seating is limited.  For reservations call us at 413-637-3206.

Jun
29
Sat
Murder Mystery Dinner Theater – “Murder Maiden China,” Doors open at 5:00 pm. Program starts and first course served at 5:30 pm
Jun 29 @ 5:00 pm

The Comical Mystery Tour ensemble returns to the mansion with a new program, “Murder Maiden China,” and invites the public to join the fun on Saturday, June 29th. Doors open at 5:00 pm. Program starts and first course served at 5:30 pm.

Gertrude Ingrid Josephine Mattel, a.k.a. GI Jo, is running the Maiden China toy company since her father’s passing. He was well loved, but she is more of a dictator and has made some enemies. Actually, she doesn’t have many, if any friends, including her hen pecked husband, Lou Zerr. Her assistant, C. Alice Knightly, is more like a slave. Goldie Digger, Lou’s “secretary,” has no good feelings towards her, she thinks, well maybe she doesn’t, what were we talking about? Charlie Brown III is the delivery guy for “This Side UP” package service. She calls him names every time he makes a delivery. Someone gets sick of it and GI Joe ends up in permanent retirement. Come along for the ride and help figure who offed Joe.

In production since 1995, The Comical Mystery Tour has had over 50,000 audience members

viewing and/or participating in their programs. The ensemble appears regularly at Ventfort Hall.

Cost to attend is $40 per person including a full course dinner. A cash bar is available for beer and wine. Reservations are required by Wednesday, June 26th. Seating is limited.  For information or reservations call us at 413-637-3206.

Jul
2
Tue
Tea & Talk – “Posting It, or Networking, Victorian Style”
Jul 2 @ 4:00 pm

Revolutionary then, but a common everyday event today, Prof. Catherine J. Golden will put the stamp on “Posting It, or Networking, Victorian Style,” based on her book Posting It: The Victorian Revolution in Letter Writing. She will autograph copies of her book during a Victorian tea following her presentation.

Before e-mails, Instagram, Facebook and blogs, letter writing was the only way to communicate with a broad audience.  The recipient, not the sender, paid to receive a letter at the time of delivery.  So high were postage rates in early Victorian Britain—determined by the number of pages in the letter and the route a letter traveled—that many people dreaded the postman’s knock.

But all that changed with the Penny Post established in 1840.  In London by 1860, there were 12 postal deliveries a day, from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Letter writing—no longer a privilege for the wealthy—became an affordable way to connect with family, friends and beyond.

“Posting It, or Networking, Victorian Style” presents the story of this revolutionary change.  Through a PowerPoint presentation and material objects on display, we will journey with Golden to Victorian England to see the first adhesive postage stamp, called the Penny Black, which allowed letters up to ½ ounce to travel anywhere in the UK for only a penny. Stamps and prepayment quickly became the model for other nations including the United States, which issued its first stamps in 1847.

George Elgar Hicks’s narrative painting The General Post Office:  One Minute to Six (1860)—on the cover of Posting It—shows the relevance of the Penny Post for networking in Victorian times and our time. The painting serves as a point of origin for computer-mediated communication (CMC), complete with the excitement, challenges, and dangers that users experience today.

Golden will consider, too, how the Penny Post brought blessings and problems relevant in the twenty-first century. It facilitated family ties, promoted business, and spread information to an ever-widening postal “network”— but it also became a tool for blackmail, slander, unsolicited mass mailings and junk mail. The Penny Post anticipates and was as revolutionary to the Victorians in sending letters, newspapers, books and other information as e-mail, text messages, and blogs are to us today.

Golden is professor of English and the Tisch Chair in Arts and Letters at Skidmore College.  She is author of Serials to Graphic Novels:  The Evolution of the Victorian Illustrated Book (2017) and Images of the Woman Reader in Victorian British and American Fiction (2003).  She is editor or coeditor of five additional books on topics ranging from Charlotte Perkins Gilman to Victorian illustration, literature and culture and a regular contributor to Illustration Magazine, a British arts journal.

Posting It received the 2010 DeLong Book History Prize for the best book on any aspect of the creation, dissemination, or uses of script or print awarded by SHARP, the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing.  Autographed paperback copies of Posting It and Serials to Graphic Novels will be available for purchase at the tea.

The summer 2019 series of fourteen Tea & Talks are sponsored by Ventfort Hall board member Lucille Landa and William Landa.

Tickets for the Golden talk are $28 for advance reservations and $32 day of the event.  Reservations are highly recommended as seating is limited.  For reservations call us at 413-637-3206.

Jul
9
Tue
Tea & Talk – “Downton Abbey Style: The Influences on Fashion, 1912 – 1925”
Jul 9 @ 4:00 pm

Downton Abbey has been a television phenomenon watched by fans throughout the UK and the USA followed by the wildly successful traveling exhibition. Like other British costume dramas, the clothing is presented with attention given to meticulous detail.

Historic textile and costume expert Susan J. Jerome will present facts to weave into her story of “Downton Abbey Style: The Influences on Fashion, 1912 – 1925” at a Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum Tea & Talk on Tuesday, July 9 at 4:00 pm. A Victorian tea will follow.

Jerome will explore the social, technological, and political developments of the early 20th century as reflected in the notable evolution of women’s and men’s clothing. Her visual presentation will look back at what was fashionable, or not, as a way of understanding why people wore what they did.

She will have her audience look at some of the influential designers and other persons involved in the years spanning the Downton Abbey series. Time will be given for questions and discussion, which are encouraged.

Jerome is the Collections Manager at the University of Rhode Island Historic Textile and Costume Collection. She earned her MS degree from the University of Rhode Island, Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design. Prior to continuing her education, she worked for a number of years at Mystic Seaport Museum.

Jerome also works as a textile and quilt conservator at CT Quilt Works in Mystic, and a consultant to museums and historical societies. An avid textilian, she is happiest when writing, talking and doing all things concerning textiles.

Cost to attend is $28 with advance reservation; $32 day of. Reservations are recommended as seating is limited. Call us at (413) 637-3206 for reservations.

Jul
12
Fri
Ghost Hunt – “A Spirited Evening”
Jul 12 @ 7:00 pm – 11:45 pm

Join David Raby for a paranormal investigation of the historic and haunted Ventfort Hall.  A non-fiction author and paranormal investigator, Raby has always been intrigued by history. He undauntedly enters haunted locations that would terrify others with hopes of contacting lingering spirits to discover why they remain.

Raby is the author of four published books and countless online articles. With his passion for the paranormal field, he has accumulated over a decade of experience, founded a paranormal group and has helped many people (and spirits) that ranged between the curious and those seeking urgent advice.

His interest in the paranormal was shaped by the fact that spirits seem to be attracted to his compassion and openness. He has a knack for storytelling that fuels his intensive historical research and fact finding.

He believes that by bringing people’s stories out of the shadows and into the light of our awareness, they may find eternal rest and peace.

Before the investigation, he will give a brief history of the lives that once graced the hallways – and possibly still reside within. He will also share some of his favorite evidence from previous investigations and will be happy to answer any questions about paranormal investigations. This event is perfect for everyone; from someone who has never been on a paranormal investigation to the seasoned investigator.

The event will begin at 7:00 p.m. and concludes at midnight. Tickets for this exciting event are $35 per person. All of the proceeds from ticket sales will go towards the preservation and restoration of Ventfort Hall. Call us at (413) 637-3206 for reservations.

Jul
16
Tue
Tea & Talk – “Lenox Rusticators on the Maine Coast”
Jul 16 @ 4:00 pm

Historians Cornelia Brooke Gilder and Ronald Epp will join together to present the story of the impact the Berkshires had on the development of the Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island led by George Bucknam Dorr, the legendary conservationist, landscape designer and founder of the Mount Desert Nurseries.  He was also an advisor to gardening friends Beatrix Farrand in Maine and Edith Wharton at her Lenox estate. Cost to attend is $28 with advance reservation; $32 day of. Reservations are recommended as seating is limited. Call us at (413) 637-3206 for reservations.

Jul
23
Tue
Tea & Talk – “After Emily: The Women Who Introduced Emily Dickinson”
Jul 23 @ 4:00 pm

Mabel Loomis Todd was the woman who brought to light the work of a reclusive but highly talented poet. Prof. Julie Dobrow will discuss After Emily: The Women Who Introduced Emily Dickinson, the subject of the presenter’s new book. The shadowy and scandal-laced Amherst, Massachusetts surroundings include Mabel’s lover, Emily’s brother, Austin, who was 30 years older, and Mabel’s daughter Millicent Todd Bingham – a complex tale indeed. Cost to attend is $28 with advance reservation; $32 day of. Reservations are recommended as seating is limited. Call us at (413) 637-3206 for reservations.

Jul
30
Tue
Tea & Talk – “John White Alexander: An American Gilded Age Artist”
Jul 30 @ 4:00 pm

Considered on a par with John Singer Sargent and William Merritt Chase, the once acclaimed portrait painter John White Alexander is especially recognized for his figure paintings of women striking evocative poses and elaborately arranged in flowing gowns. Art historian and Alexander author Mary Anne Goley will introduce us to the artist’s career and his exceptional talent for movement and gesture. She fortunately had early access to the untouched Alexander estate for her book. Cost to attend is $28 with advance reservation; $32 day of. Reservations are recommended as seating is limited. Call us at (413) 637-3206 for reservations.

Aug
6
Tue
Tea & Talk – “Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861 – 2008”
Aug 6 @ 4:00 pm

Wadsworth Atheneum chief curator Robin Jaffee Frank will take us on a ride with Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861 – 2008. The lead author and editor of the groundbreaking book, Frank will cover “America’s playground,” the world-famous entertainment mecca for the masses and national cultural symbol that has inspired music, literature, paintings, photography and films. Her focus will be the site’s enduring status as inspiration for artists. Cost to attend is $28 with advance reservation; $32 day of. Reservations are recommended as seating is limited. Call us at (413) 637-3206 for reservations.

Aug
13
Tue
Tea & Talk – “Archer Milton Huntington & the Hispanic Society of America Museum”
Aug 13 @ 4:00 pm

Historian Francis Morrone will uncover the life of an intensely private personality, Archer Milton Huntington, founder of the Hispanic Society of America Museum. Due to reopen this fall, its collection rivals that of the Morgan Library. Morrone: Huntington is “truly one of the most remarkable Americans” of the Gilded Age, “and his story is almost unbelievable.”  His former home at 1083 Fifth Avenue, for which Morrone is detailing, is one the great New York extant mansions. Cost to attend is $28 with advance reservation; $32 day of. Reservations are recommended as seating is limited. Call us at (413) 637-3206 for reservations.