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Oudens Ello Architecture selected to develop Woodlawn Master Property Plan

The Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations, governing board of Woodlawn, is pleased to announce it has hired Oudens Ello Architecture to develop a master property plan that will maximize the full potential of the property as both a museum and public park.

Oudens Ello Architecture was chosen after winning a competitive design charrette process. Boston-based, it is a full-service architecture and urban design office specializing in academic, cultural and institutional projects.  Principals Matthew Oudens, AIA, LEED AP, Conrad Ello, AIA, LEED AP, and Paul Schlapobersky, AIA, LEED AP, bring a research-based approach to their projects yielding thoughtful, well reasoned solutions that respond to their unique physical and cultural contexts and reflect a close collaborative relationship with each client. Current clients include the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, Stonington Historical Society (CT), Dartmouth College, Williams College, and the towns of Eastham, Millis, and West Tisbury, Massachusetts.

As part of the master property plan, Oudens Ello Architecture will consider the re-establishment of the estate's carriage barn structure, renovations to the historic kitchen Ell attached to the main historic house, and improvements to the 180 acre landscape, originally divided between the manor house portion of the site with its formal gardens and that of the working farm. The plan will address pressing space needs at Woodlawn including the desire for expanded programming, events, exhibitions, archival storage, organizational support, and research spaces for community use. The plan will also address issues of access, vehicular and pedestrian circulation, parking and facilities to better accommodate current visitor flow and an anticipated increase in the number of visitors to the estate.

“We are thrilled to hire Oudens Ello Architecture for this important project that will map Woodlawn’s future growth and expansion.  As a firm, we felt they understood our needs, and Woodlawn’s unique characteristics, very well. As individuals, we felt their personalities and commitment to excellence would help guide us through this exciting moment in Woodlawn’s history,” remarked Joshua C. Torrance, Woodlawn’s executive director.

“We were immediately taken with the unique qualities of the Woodlawn estate and are honored to play a role in its stewardship as an important heritage site and growth as a vibrant public amenity. As with much of our work on historic properties in New England, we understand the delicate nature of this undertaking and how vital it is to strike the proper balance between delivering a visible, dynamic new facility for the institution, and at the same time respecting and preserving the Black House and its grounds as the primary focus and enduring image for visitors.” remarked Matthew Oudens, principal at Oudens Ello Architecture.

The project is expected to last several months and will result in a board approved master property plan.  Consultant firms working with Oudens Ello Architecture on the project include Michael Boucher Landscape Architecture, the James E. Sewall Company, RSE Associates, Altieri Sebor Wieber Engineers, Consigli Construction, and Cosentini Associates.  An anonymous source has provided the funding for the master property plan project.

Christmas at Woodlawn: Holiday Traditions from around the World

Woodlawn is pleased to announce its events for the 2013 Christmas at Woodlawn: Holiday Traditions from Around the World. This year Woodlawn’s Christmas season offerings are sure to delight the whole family and to create lasting holiday memories.  Inspired by holiday traditions from around the world, a talented team of decorators has transformed Woodlawn’s interiors into a visual sensation illustrating holiday traditions from various countries.

Visitors can see rooms decorated by designers John Blake from MM Julz Christmas Shop, Glenna Reynolds from NewLand Florist, Tyra Hanson from The Gallery at Somes Sound, as well as by members of the Bar Harbor Garden Club, the Bucksport Garden Club, the Ellsworth Garden Club, and the Surry Garden Club.

These wonderful designers have installed spectacular decorations throughout the famous Black House.  Each designer used realistic artificial greens and floral material to dress the house with garlands, wreaths, fruit arrangements, topiaries and trees artfully placed amidst the original furnishings of the Black family home.  Their creations are guaranteed to delight visitors of all ages.  Visitors will also have the opportunity to hear a special audio tour presentation on the history of Christmas at Woodlawn and in New England.

Christmas at Woodlawn: Holiday traditions from around the world will officially open on December 1st when the public can view the decorations and take the Christmas tour.  The tours will continue every day from 10 am to 4 pm through December 23rd.  Admission is $5 for adults and $1 for children ages 5-12, under 5 admitted free.  Group and school tours are also available by appointment.

Special events will continue throughout the month of December.  Woodlawn’s Holiday High Teas will again add cheer to the holiday season.  The teas are held on Wednesday, December 4th, 11th, and 18th and Friday, December 13th at 3 pm.  Come enjoy a delicious traditional high tea catered by Chippers Restaurant and admire the splendid holiday decorations throughout the house.  As space is limited, advance ticket purchase is required by calling Woodlawn at 667-8671.  The cost is $25 per person, $22 for Woodlawn members.

In partnership with Chippers Restaurant, Woodlawn will offer two traditional Christmas Feasts on Wednesdays, December 11 & 18.  A Christmas dinner featuring Chippers’ standing rib roast will be served following a reception and tour of the house.  Space for these special evenings is limited so advance ticket purchase is required.  The cost is $85 per person.  For complete details and menu, visit or call 667-8671.

The annual Woodlawn Holiday Open House will be held on Saturday, December 21st from 4-7 pm.  It is an opportunity to see the beautifully decorated rooms in the evening, to mingle with friends, and enjoy superb hors d'oeuvres by Chippers Restaurant and wine.  A cash bar will feature Woodlawn’s specialty Christmas cocktails.  Space is limited and reservations are recommended.  The cost for Woodlawn’s Holiday Open House reception is $25 per person, $22 for Woodlawn members.   All proceeds benefit Woodlawn.

Margaret Ames will lead Froebel Star workshops on Saturday December 14th and 21st from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.  A Froebel star is a Christmas decoration made of paper, common in Germany.  The three-dimensional Froebel star is assembled from four identical paper strips, then dipped into hot wax and sprinkled with glitter after being folded.   This free workshop is open to 10 years and older.  Donations are appreciated

The Woodlawn Store is the perfect stop for unique holiday gifts.  Woodlawn’s own blend of beautifully packaged tea combined with tea pots and cups in every color, make for a special gift.  New Woodlawn ornaments and Cat’s Meows make original gifts for your loved ones.  The store also features Victorian games and ornaments, jewelry, handmade soaps, custom Woodlawn lithophane nightlights and tea towels, greeting cards, plus many other items that make great stocking stuffers.  The store is open daily from Dec. 1 to 23 from 10 am to 4 pm, or by special appointment.  Museum memberships, always available for purchase in the Museum Store, make thoughtful gifts for friends and family as well as supporting Woodlawn.  Remember, Woodlawn members receive a 10% discount off all purchases.

For more information about any of our special holiday tours, events, Museum Store hours, or to purchase tickets, please contact the museum at 667-8671.

Ellsworth Antiques Show Marks its 8th year at Woodlawn

Nation’s longest running antiques show has raised over $130,000 for Woodlawn’s programs

Preparations are well underway for the 2013 Ellsworth Antiques Show held on  the grounds of the Woodlawn Museum from August 15-17, 2013.  An Opening Night Cocktail Party and Dinner will launch the show on Wednesday, August 14th, and it will continue on the 15th from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and on the 16th and 17th from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Admission to the show and for a Woodlawn tour is $15 or $10 for the show only.  Boston Private Bank & Trust Company is the lead corporate sponsor for this year’s show with additional support from Skinner, Inc. and Eaton Peabody.  Originating at Ellsworth City Hall in 1937, the show moved to Woodlawn in 2006 and has since grossed over $130,000 for school programs.

The Ellsworth Antiques Show at Woodlawn is more than just a summer antiques show.  It is an exciting summer experience.  Staged under a gigantic tent on Woodlawn’s grounds, guests can peruse museum quality antiques, priced within a wide range, which the dealers beautifully present in booth settings.  The show features twenty-seven top dealers, some of whom regularly appear on the PBS series The Antiques Roadshow.  They are experts in their respective fields and are always eager to share their knowledge.  A luncheon café, catered by Chippers Restaurant, will offer an assortment of items during the show including lobster rolls, salads, sandwiches as well as beer and wine.

“The show not only brings together beautiful artifacts of American and Native American history, it also helps to raise funds to continue important programs for students at Woodlawn and has a  significant economic impact that directly benefits our  local communities,” noted  Joshua Torrance, Executive Director of Woodlawn Museum.

“We are truly honored to support Woodlawn and the remarkable Ellsworth Antique Show,” said Mark Thompson, CEO and President, Boston Private Bank & Trust.  “We share the Museum’s deep commitment to Maine’s cultural heritage,the arts, and to providing future generations with the opportunity to be part of Woodlawn’s colorful New England history.”

Skinner President & CEO Karen M. Keane added, “Skinner is pleased to assume a sponsorship role for this impressive show, and is delighted to support the Woodlawn Museum and its educational programs.”

After visiting the show, guests can stroll through the Woodlawn gardens, tour the famous Black House, walk on the trails, or enjoy a game of croquet.  Guests can also view a contemporary art show and competition, Woodlawn in Art, installed throughout the Black House and featuring works based on a Downeast Maine theme from artists in Hancock County.  An expert panel of judges, including Carl Little, Roger Moss, Sandra Blake Leonard, and George Kinghorn will judge the art and award a $500 prize to the winning artist.

On Wednesday, August 14th guests can experience the excitement of the Opening Night during a Cocktail Party and Dinner catered by Chippers Restaurant and underwritten by Skinner, Inc.  Starting with the cocktail party at 4:00 p.m., guests can be the first to preview the fabulous antiques and decorative fine art while enjoying Latin hors d’oeuvres and a South American wine tasting with wines courtesy of Eaton Peabody.  T.W. Zeptet will provide live jazz as guests enjoy a wide selection of items priced for every budget.  Tickets to the cocktail party are $50 per person, or $90 per couple.  Following the cocktail party, guests can stay and join show dealers and local artists for a sumptuous dinner featuring fresh, local ingredients served Latin grill-style paired with delectable South American wines.  Cocktail Party and Dinner tickets are $135 per person or $250 per couple.  A table for six can be reserved for $650.

The 2013 Ellsworth Antiques Show features twelve Maine dealers including: W. M. Schwind, Jr, Martin J. Ferrick, Scott Smith, DeWolfe & Wood Rare Books, James and Nancy Glazer, David White, Nancy Prince & James LeFurgy, Robert T. Foley, Clark Point Gallery, Pioneer Folk Art, The Boathouse, and A. E. Runge Jr. Oriental Rugs.  They are joined by Michael Hingston from New Hampshire; Hilary and Paulette Nolan, Suzanne Courcier and Robert W. Wilkins, John Hunt Marshall, and Collette Donovan from Massachusetts; Connecticut dealers George Subkoff Antiques, Hanes & Ruskin, and Sears & Tither; White & White Antiques and Earle Vandekar of Knightsbridge from New York; Pennsylvania dealers Sally Good, Diana H. Bittel Antiques, and The Philadelphia Print Shop; Malcolm Magruder from Virginia and Douglas L. Solliday Antiques from Missouri.

In its 8th year at Woodlawn, the Ellsworth Antiques Show, presented by Boston Private Bank &  Trust , is a not to be missed summer experience that helps raise funds for Woodlawn.  Woodlawn is located at 19 Black House Drive on Rt. 172 (Surry Road) and is ¼ of mile from Ellsworth, Maine’s beautiful downtown.  For more information or to make reservations, visit or call: 207/667-8671.

Woodlawn receives $55,000 to conserve rare best bed

Woodlawn is pleased to announce that it has received two major grants that will allow the institution to conserve and preserve its rare best bed.   With elegant festoon drapery curtains, it is widely considered to be one of the most important historic beds in America.  In 1827 Colonel John Black purchased the bedstead and the English cotton dimity curtains and silk fringe in Boston, Massachusetts, for his new house in Ellsworth. It survives as not only a Maine treasure but also a national treasure. Conservation grants were awarded to Woodlawn from the Coby Foundation, Ltd., in New York City, $55,000, and the Felicia Fund, $20,000, in Providence, Rhode Island.

John Black’s best bed is rare and remarkable survival.  The carved mahogany bedstead frame and English dimity cotton dimity curtains with silk fringe remain in the very same room where the bed was first installed in 1827.  Adding to its rarity, the original invoices for the purchase of the bed and its hangings survive, as do other elements of the original bed including: the brass cornice elements, its linen sacking bottom, and mattresses.  Significantly, the bed is documented by a drawing sent by the Boston upholsterer with instructions for how to install it.  Remarkably, the casings for the hair mattress and featherbed also survive.  Even stains on the featherbed cover indicating problems with bed bugs survive, illuminating a common problem in nineteenth-century domestic life that even John Black wasn’t immune too.

These fragile furnishings survived two more generations to inhabit the house, the last being the builder’s grandson, George Nixon Black, Jr. (or Nixon as he was familiarly called). Woodlawn was his ancestral summer home and he ensured its preservation.  His extraordinary textiles, fragile as they are, have been accessible to the public since the house opened in 1929.  Nowhere else in America can one see an original best bed of this quality.  Indeed, Woodlawn’s 1827 best bed is an iconic American artifact.  This is why Woodlawn chose to conserve the textiles rather than replace them.

“We are most grateful to the Coby Foundation and the Felicia Fund for their generous support to preserve one of America’s great historical treasures and for sharing our commitment to ensuring that it remain on view to the public,” remarked Joshua C. Torrance, Woodlawn’s executive director.

Natalie Larson, a reproduction textile specialist based in Williamsburg, Virginia and owner of Historic Textile Reproductions, has help refurnish early American bedsteads in house museums across the country, including many of the presidential mansions.  She observed with amazement and admiration, "Black's bed is the best documented, extant bed known in America. It tells the most complete story of the owner, time, place, and price. It has all of its original components - bedstead, curtains, bedding. It's in the same house and same room. There are bills of sale. It's the only one known with an illustration from the upholsterer who details the order in which the curtains are to be hung. Woodlawn's 1827 best bed offers the most complete story. There isn't another one like it! And we're still learning more about it. Inscriptions found on the cornice have yet to be deciphered so there's still more to learn."

BedBeginning on October 24, 2012 a team of museum and conservation specialists worked for three and one-half days on the methodical documentation and careful de-upholstery of the bedstead. Deirdre Windsor of Windsor Conservation, Dover, Massachusetts, one of America’s leading textile conservators, led the process, assisted by Jon Brandon of East Point Conservation Studio in Brunswick, Maine.  Ms. Larson made scale drawings to document how the twenty-two individual pieces were constructed 185 years ago.  Woodlawn’s Sleigh Barn became an on-site photography studio for J. David Bohl, a freelance museum photographer from Hull, Massachusetts, and formerly Historic New England’s staff photographer, who photographed each of the textile elements as well as the process of de-upholstery in the bed chamber.  Laura Fecych Sprague, an independent museum curator and a leading scholar of Maine’s early material culture, organized the work plan, and executive director Joshua Campbell Torrance facilitated the many detailed steps onaked bedf the process.  Earlier in October Walter Smalling, an architectural photographer from Penobscot, Maine, and Washington, DC, generously contributed a series of photographs documenting how the bed appeared prior to conservation work.

The conservation of the bed and curtains will occur over the next year.  The curtains will be professionally cleaned and stabilized at Windsor Conservation and reinstalled with improved ultraviolet light-filtering materials to ensure their preservation.  East Point Conservation Studio will conserve the bed on site.  Reinstallation will take place during the fall of 2013, accompanied by public programs to explore and celebrate their importance to American social history.  


Woodlawn Museum, Gardens & Park
P.O. Box 1478  •  Rte. 172  •  Ellsworth, Maine 04605  •  (207) 667-8671