2018 Summer Tea & Talk Lecture Series

This series is sponsored by Ventfort Hall board member Lucille Landa and William Landa.

Tuesdays at 4:00 pm*
$26 advance registration and members
$32 day of the event

Reservations are strongly recommended as seats are limited. Call us at (413) 637-3206.

June 12, Rene Silvin
The Duchess of Windsor as I Knew Her
In 1973, Richard René Silvin was appointed by the U.S. Agency for International Development to restructure the famous American Hospital in Paris, which was the recently widowed Duchess of Windsor’s only charity. In the process of studying the hospital’s inner workings – and intrigues – Silvin became her protégée and the object of her final public battle. Thus, the subject of his lecture and book: Noblesse Oblige: The Duchess of Windsor as I Knew Her.

June 19, W. Douglas McCombs
Woods & Waters, Hudson River School Landscapes
Douglas McCombs, Chief Curator of the Albany Institute of History & Art, will canvass “Woods and Waters, Hudson River School Landscapes” from the museum’s vast collection (the largest in the Upper Hudson Valley), including works by Cole, Church, Martin and Kensett. Many of the celebrated movement’s artists lived or worked in Albany or spent time visiting friends, fellow artists and patrons. Works are shown nationwide and internationally.

June 26, Simon Baatz
The Girl on the Velvet Swing
Sex, Murder and Madness at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century is the subtitle for legal historian Simon Baatz’s new book The Girl on the Velvet Swing.  She was just 16, a chorus girl in the musical Florodora, and he was 47, the foremost architect of his day, when she dined with him at his home in New York. Losing consciousness after too much champagne, Evelyn Nesbit awoke in bed with Stanford White. Later, she was to confide in Harry Thaw.

*July 5, Thursday, Julie Agar
Louisa May Alcott & Concord’s Literary Luminaries
As follow-up to the Little Women series on PBS, historian Julie Agar will focus on its author with “Louisa May Alcott and Concord’s Literary Luminaries.”  Her father was Bronson Alcott, an unsuccessful educator and philosopher (she portrayed him as a “man up in a balloon”). However, a rich intellectual life developed when his friends became his daughters’ friends and tutors, including Henry Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller.

July 10, Warren Kimball
US Tennis Association: Raising the Game
.  “…I went over to see what Mrs. Bailey had done.  To my surprise, I found her out playing tennis.” Martha Summerhayes, October 1874.  A singular event that portrays the early days of a great American sport. Historian Warren Kimball bases his talk on his new book The United States Tennis Association: Raising the Game. With access to private records, he tells us how the USTA was key to organizing the Grand Slam competition and the prestigious U.S. Open, among other facts.

July 17, Paul Freedman
Ten Restaurants that Changed America
From Delmonico’s to Sylvia’s to Chez Panisse, a daring and original history of dining out will be savored by Yale food historian Paul Freedman’s audience. Author of Ten Restaurants That Changed America, he will make the case that the story is one of changing immigration patterns, race relations, gender and family roles, work obligations and leisure habits, as well as the restlessness with the same old thing and our capacity for reinvention and assimilation.

July 24, Kathleen Curran
The Invention of the American Art Museum
Fine arts historian Kathleen Curran will exhibit in-depth knowledge on the transformation of the American art museum based on her book The Invention of the American Art Museum: From Craft to Kulturgeschichte, 1870 – 1930. After 1906, the earliest institutions were transformed from their craft museum formats into Kulturgeschichte (cultural history) installations.  Visitors could now enter a museum room and step into another place and time that expressed a common visual vocabulary of a historical age.

July 31, Laura Trevelyan
The Winchester: The Gun That Built an American Dynasty
Laura Trevelyan, a British anchor of BBC World News America on PBS, is a descendant of the American Winchester family, the colorful New England clan responsible for the creation of the “Gun That Won the West.”  Based on her new book The Winchester: The Gun That Built an American Dynasty, she will explore a favorite of collectors, celebrated in fiction, glorified in Hollywood and endorsed by Annie Oakley, Theodore Roosevelt and certain Native Americans who called it “the spirit gun.”

August 7, Stephen Moskey & Isabel Taube
Lanz & Isabel Anderson, Gilded Age Globetrotting Collectors
Isabel and Larz Anderson, Gilded Age Globetrotting Collectors” will be discovered as a wealthy, well-connected, cosmopolitan and intellectually curious couple who assembled rare objects for their homes in Brookline, MA, and Washington, D.C.  Historical researcher Stephen Moskey and art historian Isabel Taube will present a case study, Native American objects that they discovered in 2014, once presumed lost, in long-term storage in a Boston museum.

August 14, Francis Morrone
Crystal Palaces: The London, New York and Paris World’s Fairs, 1851-1855
Popular architectural historian Francis Morrone returns to peer into “Crystal Palaces:  The London, New York and Paris World’s Fairs, 1850 – 1855.” These were three of the greatest expositions of the 19th century. Each centered on a massive iron-and-glass exhibition hall, none of which survive.  They were showcases for inventions in the greatest age of inventions. The present-day pales in comparison when it comes to the latest inventions, says Morrone.

August 21, Susan Edwards
Henry Coit Perkins, 1839: Pioneer Photographer
Susan Edwards, executive director of the Museum of Old Newbury, will focus on “Henry Coit Perkins, 1839: Pioneer Photographer.”  In that year, he most likely took the country’s first town views, those of Newburyport, MA. He had begun to experiment with the French daguerreotype process. Edwards will reveal recent research on Perkins and will chronicle the work of Louis Daguerre and others.  Early Berkshire photography will be viewed as well.

August 28, Elaine Leary
Anne Morgan: J.P’s Daughter, Sarah’s Niece and WWI Humanitarian
From 1917 to 1924, a team of some 350 women, appalled by news of wartime destruction, left comfortable lives at home to volunteer in the devastated regions of France. Their dynamic leader and organizer will be honored by Elaine Leary with her talk on “Anne Morgan: J.P.’s Daughter, Sarah’s Niece and WWI Humanitarian.”  We pay tribute to Anne as the niece of Ventfort Hall’s first owners.

September 4, Rene Silvin
Mar-a-Lago from Cereal Heiress to Winter White House
Palm Beach historian Richard René Silvin asks the question: What do Marjorie Merriweather Post, Grape-Nuts, actress Dina Merrill, the Hutton family and President Trump have in common? Silvin will present his answer with “Mar-a-Lago from Cereal Heiress to Winter White House.”  Designed in the 1920s by famed architect/stage set designer Joseph Urban for Mrs. E. F. Hutton (née M. M. Post), the mansion has only recently taken on its own fame.