2017 in Review

The James Monroe Museum is pleased to share this summary of 2017, a truly eventful year in our institution’s long history. Observance of the bicentennial of James Monroe’s presidency, which will be a dominant overarching theme for the next eight years, began with innovative public programs and the Museum’s first national traveling exhibit. Throughout the year, new First Friday programs were introduced; special exhibits highlighted fascinating artifacts in the Museum’s collection; and awareness and support of the Museum grew steadily. Echoing the term used two centuries ago to describe the positive effect of the president’s northern tour, 2017 was manifestly an “Era of Good Feelings” for The James Monroe Museum!

Read the whole article .
New Leadership for
University of Mary Washington Museums
Photo L-R: Jarod Kearney, Assistant Director/Curator, James Monroe Museum; Scott Harris, Director of University Museums; Joanna Catron, Assistant Director/Curator, Gari Melchers Home and Studio.
Dr. Nina Mikhalevsky, Provost of the University of Mary Washington, today announced administrative changes affecting the Gari Melchers Home and Studio, the James Monroe Museum, and the Papers of James Monroe. The two museums and the scholarly publication project are administered by the University.
“To streamline reporting structures and maximize the effectiveness of both museums in delivering their programming, a new organizational structure will go into place in January,” Dr. Mikhalevsky noted in an email to staff. “I am very pleased to announce that Scott Harris, currently Director of the James Monroe Museum, has been named Director of University Museums. In his new role, Scott will provide strategic direction and will oversee all aspects of the Gari Melchers Home and Studio and the James Monroe Museum.”
Day-to-day operations at the Gari Melchers Home and Studio will be overseen by Assistant Director/Curator Joanna Catron. Catron has served as the museum’s interim director since the retirement of David Berreth in July after 26 years as director. Jarod Kearney, Assistant Director/Curator at the James Monroe Museum, will provide the similar day-to-day management at that site.
Harris will also oversee the on-going work of the Papers of James Monroe, edited by Dr. Daniel Preston. The Papers project was recently awarded a three-year, $300,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to produce volumes seven and eight of Monroe’s selected correspondence and public documents covering the period April 1814 to March 1821.
Dr. Mikhalevsky further stated, “This reorganization provides a framework for better coordination between the two museums and will enhance the development of programmatic connections between the museums and other University departments and academic programs. This change also enhances the potential for seeking external grant funding support and will help to strengthen the promotion of the two museums as vital and important members of our academic and cultural programs.”
Founded in 1927 by Monroe descendants on the traditional site of their ancestor’s law office, the James Monroe Museum is the largest collection of artifacts and archives related to James Monroe (1758-1831), the fifth president of the United States. The museum is a National Historic Landmark and has been administered by the University of Mary Washington since 1964.
The 18 th -century Belmont estate in Stafford County, Virginia became the home of internationally-acclaimed artist Gari Melchers (1860-1932) and his wife Corinne Mackall Melchers (1880-1955) in 1916. The property and a collection of some 2,000 works of art by Melchers and other artists was bequeathed to the Commonwealth of Virginia by Corinne Melchers. Also a National Historic Landmark administered by the University, the Gari Melchers Home and Studio opened to the public in 1975.
The Papers of James Monroe is a documentary editing project that began at the College of William and Mary and since 1990 has been at the University of Mary Washington. The goal of the project is to publish a scholarly ten-volume collection of selected letters and papers documenting the life and career of the fifth president of the United States. Volume Six, covering the period April 1811 to March 1814, was published earlier this year.
2018 Events
We have an exciting program schedule planned for 2018! Our first Presidents' Day Press Conference in 2017 has become an annual event, with this year's program featuring a conversation between James Monroe and James Madison! There will be a program every First Friday in 2018 beginning with the return of Eve Watters in January, and including favorites Sketchy History and History Trivia Night. Also returning will be The Ship's Company Chanteymen for our First Friday Tavern Night in October! In honor of our exhibit Dynamic Ceramics on the first Friday in April we will be hosting an evening of pottery painting with the help of Pots and Palettes. In conjunction with the University of Mary Washington, we will offer a program on Gabriel's Rebellion in observance of Black History Month, and a conversation with First Ladies Elizabeth Monroe and Dolley Madison for Women's History Month. The full schedule is here . Don't miss out on any of our exciting events in 2018!
Friday, January 5, 6:00-8:00 PM
Winter Fireside Songs and Tales with Eve Watters
Location: James Monroe Museum

Enjoy an all-ages evening of traditional Virginia stories, music, games, and riddles, with harp, dulcimer, and pennywhistle . Musician and storyteller Eve Watters offers charming examples of the music, songs, stories, and other domestic amusements of the era.
Saturday, January 6, 10:00-11:30 AM
The Monroe Cipher
Location: James Monroe Museum

Learn how to write your own coded messages! Heidi Stello, Editorial Assistant for The Papers of James Monroe , shares the secrets of The Monroe Cipher and discusses how ciphers were an essential element of diplomacy in Monroe’s time. Family-friendly.

Friday, February 2, 6:00-8:00 PM
First Friday – Threads of History: Elizabeth Monroe’s Wedding Dress
Location: James Monroe Museum

Elizabeth Kortright married James Monroe on February 16, 1786. Textile historian Colleen Callahan discusses what we know of the dress Elizabeth wore on the day she married a future president.
Monday, February 19, 6:00-8:00 PM
Presidents' Day Press Conference
Location: Monroe Hall, room 116, University of Mary Washington

A new annual event featuring a discussion between James Monroe and other historical figures. This year features a conversation between presidents Monroe and Madison (James “Jay” G. Harrison III, and John Douglas Hall) , reflecting on their longtime friendship and roles in the founding of our nation.

Thursday, February 22, 7:00-9:00 PM
Gabriel's Rebellion
Location: Monroe Hall, room 116,
University of Mary Washington

In observance of Black History Month, Dr. Douglas Egerton discusses the slave rebellion led by Gabriel Prosser while James Monroe was governor of Virginia.

Curator's Corner
This month’s featured artifacts are a pair of longleaf pine candlesticks turned from roof rafters dating to the White House’s restoration in 1814, and a copper measure used in the White House. 

In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge and First Lady Grace Coolidge, recovering from the death of their son Calvin Coolidge Jr., looked for a way to help Mrs. Coolidge during the healing process. She decided to dive into redecorating the White House and finishing the family quarters. After months of work, the engineers apprised the President and First Lady that the roof needed replacing. During the 1925-1927 roof restoration, timbers from the 1814-1817 restoration were removed.
The James Monroe Museum founding director and Monroe descendant, Laurence G. Hoes asked President Coolidge for a souvenir of his great-great grandfather’s administration, and in 1928 the president presented him with this pair of candlesticks created from the old roof timbers. The inscription on the bottom reads:

“Made from timber removed from the White House after 112 years of service. For one hundred twelve years during the residence of twenty-six presidents of the United States the wood from which this candlestick was made (longleaf pine) supported the roof of the executive mansion. It was originally built into the mansion during the residence of President James Madison in 1815. It was removed at the time of remodeling the White House in 1927 and was found to be in perfect condition.”
The quart measure is cylindrical with an applied scrolling handle and lined with tin. A “measure” is a graduated vessel used for measuring quantities of liquid or dry ingredients. Today, they are referred to as “measuring cups.” The blue-green verdigris that forms on copper is poisonous so it was necessary to tin the inside of copper tools used for cooking. 
In the 1930s, First Lady Lou Henry Hoover visited The James Monroe Museum at the invitation of Laurence Hoes. Mrs. Hoover was so impressed with the furniture on exhibit that she requested several of the late Louis XVI style pieces be copied for the Hoover White House, including the Monroe Doctrine desk. According to family tradition, this measure was given to Laurence as a token of appreciation for the museum’s assistance with the reproductions.

Come see the candlesticks and measure in our Era of Good Feelings gallery!

What's in Store?

Happy New Year from the Museum Store!
With the holidays behind us and bored kids to entertain, keep The Museum and Store in mind for fun activities and products.
Books and music are great ways to entertain all ages. The Museum Store offers many traditional Colonial-era CDs and interesting books. The CD In Freedom We’re Born ($17.95) is a lively collection of songs from the American Revolution. These stirring songs, full of political and social satire, have colonial lyrics set to traditional English melodies. Mistress of Riversdale ($23.95) is a collection of letters that document the timeless elements of domestic life—family, relationships, childbirth, illness, household chores. The reader is transported to the ups and downs of daily living at the Riversdale Plantation. Pick up a CD or book to enjoy while the kids listen to the music and stories at the Museum’s Winter Fireside Songs and Tales with Eve Watters on Friday January 5 th .
Let the kids practice for the Museum’s upcoming family-friendly activity The James Monroe Cipher on Saturday January 6 th , with their very own Secret Decoder Cipher Wheel ($20.00) or the Revolutionary War Secret Message Spy Decoder ($9.50). The kids can write coded messages to each other, just like Monroe and Jefferson did. The cipher wheel features twelve wooden disks, with engraved ciphers in a random order which rotate around a wooden spindle. Turning the disks allows words to be scrambled and unscrambled. The spy decoder is a fun and easy way to share secret messages, and it’s small and lightweight, making it perfect for pockets. In the Museum Store you will also find a pre-packaged History Kit ($6.50), which includes a quill pen, ink kit, a scroll of the Monroe Doctrine, and a James Monroe Museum postcard and pencil. This kit can be used alongside the cipher to decode secret messages with authenticity.

You can find information about other store merchandise on our website . To place a mail order, please contact our Store Manager Tracy DeBernard at 540-654-1043.
Winter Hours, and Closings

During the months of January and February the Museum will be open Monday through Saturday 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM and Sunday 1:00 - 4:00 PM. The Museum will be closed on January 1.

For weather-related closures w e will post updates on our website and Facebook page. You can also consult local media outlets Fredericksburg.com and B101.5 .

The James Monroe Museum
908 Charles St.
Fredericksburg, VA 22401