Charleston Style and Design

SUM 2013

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which provided extra rooms for guests staying at Middleton Place. The Civil War and the Great Earthquake of 1886 largely destroyed the house and its fankers. But, beginning in the 1920s, a direct descendant of Henry Middleton, J.J. Pringleton Smith, restored the gardens and what remained of the south fanker. The family, who lived there into the 1970s, established the Middleton Place Foundation in 1974; the House Museum opened in 1975. Today, the museum shows visitors what life might have been like long ago for those who called Middleton Place home. Almost everything inside the House Museum belonged to the Middleton family. Treasured pieces of furniture, silver, paintings and rare books were transported to safety long before the house and its fankers were burned. Other rare pieces had already been passed on as heirlooms. Because of these actions, we are able to enjoy the collection today. The Middleton Place Foundation has worked tirelessly to track down and verify as authentic the most important surviv108 CHARLESTON STYLE & DESIGN | SUMMER 13 ing pieces. The generosity of the family in donating or lending beloved heirlooms has been instrumental to this success story. Guided tours of the House Museum offer visitors the opportunity to see this remarkable collection and to hear its story told. Each room in the museum adds more detail to the story. Some rooms tell of foreign travel, of service abroad, and of military service on both sides of the Civil War. The music room—with its French brass and ormolu clock, silver tea service and Philadelphia furniture—speaks to the exquisite taste of the family. In the library, visitors can see the signature of Arthur Middleton on a rare silk copy of the Declaration of Independence, as well as many other rare books, artwork and fnery. More than just a house and gardens, Middleton Place is a National Historic Landmark, a standing legacy to the earliest days of our nation and a tribute to the men and women who lived that history. Middleton Place, 4300 Ashley River Road, is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Website: 2 LOOK FOR THESE TREASURES Miniature of Madame Juliette Récamier (music room) This miniature (above left) of a Parisian socialite was copied from the original early-19th-century portrait by François Gérard. Madame Récamier was well known in literary and political circles of her day and a friend of John Izard Middleton. 18th-century silver candlesticks (dining room) Made by John Carter, these candlesticks (above right) feature Corinthian columns on plinths with the family coat of arms. Long ago, the set was given to various members of the family pair by pair. In 2012, they were all reunited when the last two were acquired by the Foundation. Portraits by Benjamin West and Thomas Sully (Main Room) Important early American artists such as Benjamin West, Thomas Sully and others painted portraits of the Middleton family. Jason A. Zwiker is a freelance writer in Charleston

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