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.

Aug
20
Tue
Tea & Talk – “The Grandest Madison Square Garden: Art, Scandal and Architecture in Gilded Age New York”
Aug 20 @ 4:00 pm

There is a cast of fascinating characters in The Grandest Madison Square Garden: Art, Scandal and Architecture in Gilded Age New York by art historian and museum director Suzanne Hinman. Her remarkable story centers on the most beautiful of the Gardens (1890) and the controversial 18-foot nude sculpture of Diana, Virgin Goddess of the Hunt that crowned it. The prominent players are pals; architect Stanford White and sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. 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
27
Tue
Tea & Talk – “New York Exposed: The Gilded Age Police Scandal”
Aug 27 @ 4:00 pm

Prof. Daniel Czitrom latest book New York Exposed: The Gilded Age Police Scandal That Launched the Progressive Movement reveals several key themes that resonate today: vote fraud and suppression, police brutality, stubborn resilience of partisan politics and anti-urbanism in American life during the early 1890s involving the NY Police Department and Tammany Hall.  Explosive charges and a crusade leveled against them rooted out corrupt cops and crooked politicians. 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.