A week of extra special visitors.
Every once in a while, we get visitors with a special connection to Historic Rosedale; descendants of enslaved or free African Americans with ties to the property or maybe locals who remember a particular party hosted by the Davidson sisters. During the week of May 30th, we had two extra special encounters.
On Thursday, June 2nd, Ms. Valerie Jarrett, former advisor to President Obama and current CEO of the Obama Foundation, stopped in. Ms. Jarrett was in town for the Levine Museum’s CaTaLysT event where she was the keynote speaker. She came to view the We Built This: Profiles of Black Architects and Builders in North Carolina exhibit. Robert Taylor (1868-1942), one of the individuals showcased in We Built This, is Ms. Jarrett’s great grandfather. Taylor was the first accredited Black architect in the United States, was the first Black student to graduate from MIT, and worked with Booker T. Washington as the architect of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Ms. Jarrett’s connection to Mr. Taylor is a perfect example of one of the themes of Preservation North Carolina’s traveling We Built This exhibit – empowerment through the generations.
On Friday, June 3rd, Rosedale was excited to receive to additional unexpected visitors. Mr. John Blythe (left in photo below) had visited the house as a young boy while it was still a private residence. At that time, he received a personal tour from Rosedale’s last resident family member, Mary Louise Davidson. Mr. Blythe was able to share stories of what the house had looked like as a modern, family home as well as relating memories told to him by Ms. Davidson. These are the kinds of meetings that give us chills! They allow us to add information to our every-growing story at Historic Rosedale. The traveling trunk belonging to Minnie Caldwell, daughter of Dr. David Caldwell, on display in the Rosedale house is a family heirloom on loan from Mr. Blythe.
Joining Mr. Blythe was Mr. Allen Brooks of AB Architecture. Mr. Brooks had equally interesting stories to share! Mr. Brooks had been part of the team that worked on the home’s restoration after it was sold to the Historic Rosedale Foundation in the 1980s. He was involved with making needed repairs to the interior and exterior of the house, and helping restore Rosedale to her former 1815 glory. It was truly interesting to hear just how much work goes into taking care of an historic structure, and especially interesting to hear what items were uncovered during the restoration. While tearing up the linoleum in the modern kitchen–what’s now (and was in 1815) the master bedroom–they found lots of old license plates underneath.
We were glad for the opportunity to meet both these gentlemen, and also glad to welcome them to our Rosedale family as new members of the Friends of Historic Rosedale, our membership program. We look forward to seeing them onsite again soon.