Tag: Exhibits

Lakeport Plantation’s Permanent Exhibits Win 2013 AASLH Award of Merit

            NASHVILLE, TN—June 2013—The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) proudly announces that the Lakeport Plantation is the recipient of an Award of Merit from the AASLH Leadership in History Awards for Lakeport’s Permanent Exhibits. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 68th year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history. 
In September 2012, permanent exhibits were installed at the Lakeport Plantation house near Lake Village, Arkansas along the Mississippi River. Lakeport, an Arkansas State University Heritage Site, is one of Arkansas’s premier historic structures and the state’s last antebellum plantation house along the Mississippi River. The interpretation tells a remarkable story of Delta laborers, families and the plantation cotton economy that built and sustained the Lakeport house in 1859 until its restoration between 2002-2007.
The achievement of Lakeport’s permanent exhibits is telling this unique Delta story and its plantation heritage while maintaining the historic integrity of the Lakeport house and weaving together the stories of planters, enslaved laborers, sharecroppers, farm laborers, craftsmen, and preservationists. Since the house had changed little since its 1859 construction, the goal was to treat the house as the major artifact.  To meet that goal, unobtrusive exhibits, designed in collaboration with Quatrefoil Associates of Laurel, Maryland, complement the restoration and preservation of original architecture and historic paint finishes. No interpretation is placed permanently on walls; instead minimalist-styled exhibits tell Lakeport’s stories Original furniture and smaller artifacts, displayed in vitrines, complement Lakeport’s interpretive themes throughout the house. Other innovative media engage visitors: projection of images, text and video onto walls; oral history kiosks, and soundscaping makes the house feel inhabited.
            This year, AASLH is proud to confer eighty-eight national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, books, and organizations. The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history. Presentation of the awards will be made at a special banquet during the 2013 AASLH Annual Meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, on Friday, September 20. The banquet is supported by a generous contribution from the History Channel.
                The AASLH awards program was initiated in 1945 to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and
local history throughout the United States.  The AASLH Leadership in History Awards not only honor significant achievement in the field of state and local history, but also brings public recognition of the opportunities for small and large organizations, institutions, and programs to make contributions in this arena.  For more information about the Leadership in History Awards, contact AASLH at 615-320-3203, or go to www.aaslh.org.
The American Association for State and Local History is a not-for-profit professional organization of individuals and institutions working to preserve and promote history.  From its headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, AASLH provides leadership, service, and support for its members who preserve and interpret state and local history in order to make the past more meaningful in American society.  AASLH publishes books, technical publications, a quarterly magazine, and monthly newsletter.  The association also sponsors regional and national training workshops and an annual meeting.


New Exhibits Installed at Lakeport

Lakeport has entered a new phase with the installation of permanent exhibits.  Designed in collaboration with Quatrefoil Associates in Laurel, Maryland, the exhibits are based on years of restoration and research in family records, archives and oral histories. The exhibits tell the stories of the house, the restoration, and the people who lived and worked at Lakeport. Yet, they are designed to be unobtrusive, blending in with the main exhibit–the Lakeport house. On display now are artifacts found during restoration and original items donated back to the house.

Press Release: Lakeport Plantation to Celebrate Fifth Anniversary

For release: August 27, 2012
Lakeport Plantation to Celebrate Fifth Anniversary
The Lakeport Plantation will celebrate its Fifth Anniversary Sept. 28-30, 2012.  The three-day event will include restoration team presentations, guided tours, opening of new permanent exhibits, and a Lakeport Family Reunion. 
The plantation home is an Arkansas State University Heritage Site, built ca. 1859 for the Johnson family of Kentucky.  One of Arkansas’s premiere historic structures; it has changed little since its original construction and is the last antebellum plantation home in Arkansas on the Mississippi River. The Sam Epstein Angel family of Lake Village deeded the house to the university in 2001. Restoration began in 2002, using the highest level of U. S. Department of Interior standards for rehabilitation, and the restored home opened to the public in 2007.
Since its opening, thousands of visitors from all over Arkansas, the United States, and the globe have toured the plantation.  Lakeport now enters a new phase with the installation of permanent exhibits, designed in collaboration with Quatrefoil Associates in Laurel, Maryland.  Exhibits are based on years of restoration and research in family records, archives and oral histories.
 “The house itself will always be our major exhibit,” stated Dr. Ruth Hawkins, executive director of Arkansas Heritage Sites at ASU.  “We wanted to enhance the visitor experience, however, with unobtrusive exhibits that tell the stories of the house, the restoration, and the people who lived and worked at Lakeport.” 
New exhibits also will display artifacts found during restoration and original items donated back to the house.  Dr. Blake Wintory, director of Lakeport Plantation, said his personal favorite is a case full of artifacts, dating between 1860 and 1970, which were found behind mantels during restoration. “From the time the Johnsons moved into the house in 1860, people began losing pictures, letters, business cards and other objects behind the mantels,” Wintory said.  “These lost and found artifacts are a fascinating record of their lives.” 
The Lakeport Family Reunion will include descendants of the Johnson family, other residents of Lakeport, and descendants of African Americans who lived and worked at Lakeport as enslaved laborers and later as tenant farmers.
Early registration will take place from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28 at the Guachoya Cultural Arts Center in Lake Village. Permanent exhibits will be unveiled at the plantation house at 9:00 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, followed by presentations related to new discoveries at Lakeport from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the Lakeport lawn. 
Saturday afternoon events will include a 2 p.m. tour of the Epstein Cotton Gin in Lake Village, led by Sammy E. Angel, and a 3:30 p.m. guided walking tour of downtown Lake Village by Rachel Silva of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.  A social hour at the restored historic Tushek Building begins at 5 p.m., followed by a Homemade Spaghetti Dinner at 6 p.m. at Our Lady of the Lake Parish Hall.  The dinner will include a presentation by community historian Libby Borgognoni on Chicot County’s Italian history. 
            On Sunday, Sept. 30, a panel of Johnson descendants will present “Memories of the Family” at 10 a.m., followed by “Memories of the Community” featuring Lakeport area residents at 11 a.m.  A noon barbeque lunch will end the celebration.
The three-day event is open to the public, but registration is required by Sept. 14 and there is a charge for the meals.  For information on registration, visit http://lakeport.astate.edu,   call 870.265.6031.



Lakeport Plantation Receives Donation of Original Furniture

For immediate release:


The Lakeport Plantation, on February 17, 2011,  received a donation of two pieces of Lakeport’s original furniture and a Johnson family doll.  The artifacts, an antebellum washstand, a carved chair, and a family doll that survived the 1927 flood in Greenville, Mississippi, are the gift of Glenn Smith of San Rafael, California in memory of his wife Verlinda Catherine Rose (Linnie).  Lakeport Planation Assistant Director, Blake Wintory, stated “We appreciate the Smith and Rose families for giving these important historical pieces back to Lakeport. These pieces have not been in the house for over 80 years; they are essential elements for telling the story of the plantation.”

The artifacts have gone across the county from Lakeport to Greenville to Memphis, and then onto California and Washington as the Johnson family moved west.  Linnie Rose acquired the pieces from her mother,  Catherine Verlinda Johnson Rose, who received them from her father, Dr. Victor Johnson.  Victor, the youngest son of Lycurgus and Lydia Johnson, was the last Johnson to live at Lakeport.  He and his family moved to Greenville, Mississippi in 1917.  Ten years later, following the flood of 1927, the family moved to Memphis.   In 2008, Sharon Rose, Linnie’s sister, donated a washstand that is similar the washstand received today.  Underneath the gray marble top is a shipping label that reads, “L.J. Lakeport, Ark.”  Sharon remembers both wash stands being in her family’s home.  She stated “I’m so happy Glenn donated those items to Lakeport; it’s where they belong.”
The Lakeport Plantation house is an Arkansas State University Heritage Site.   Built for Lycurgus and Lydia Johnson in 1859, the Greek Revival home is one of Arkansas’ premiere historic structures and is now the only remaining antebellum plantation home in Arkansas on the Mississippi River.  The Johnson family retained ownership of the house until 1927, when the Chicot County plantation was purchased by Sam Epstein.  The house was added to the National Register in 1974 and was gifted to Arkansas State University in 2001 by the Sam Epstein Angel Family.  Following a massive restoration effort, the home opened to the public on September 28, 2007.

Lakeport’s Piano Returns

Lakeport’s original piano, a ca. 1869 J.A. Gray square grand and centerpiece of entertaining during the post-war era, returned to the house on the evening of June 14th. The piano was donated back to Lakeport by the Epstein-Angel family after spending roughly the last 60 years in storage at the Epstein Cotton Gin in Lake Village. Bradshaw Piano Services of Conway, Arkansas restored the piano.

The piano first shows up on the Johnson’s county taxes in 1870. Before that date, there likely was no piano in the house. As the Johnson’s moved into the house in 1860, they were still decorating, until the war interrupted their plans. We know much of the interior paintwork was not complete by the start of the War; it is also likely that the Johnsons were not able to completely furnish the home until after the war.

Shortly after the war, Amanda Worthington (1845-1896) in an August 25, 1865 diary entry, did describe music during her visit to Lakeport, but no piano. At “Aunt Lydia’s” house, she says, we “spent a very pleasant evening, danced several sets, talked and had music from several sources–we had a nice supper too.” At the nearby home of Lycurgus’s father and mother, Amanda does mention their piano: “we would run out of conversation in the daytime and after every body had played on the piano we would be at a loss what to do…Linnie & Fanny Davis both played splendidly on the piano and we made them play a great deal. ” (Worthington 2008 : 92)

Tom DeBlack has noted, the Johnsons began to get their financial feet back around 1870 making Lycurgus again “leading planter” in Chicot County. As the piano was added to the taxable property, so was a gold watch and a pleasure carriage (DeBlack 2002: 32).

Annie Taylor Worthington (1875-1963), daughter of Mary Jane Johnson and Isaac M. Worthington,
Annie Taylor Worthington, ca. 1880
Jr., began learning the piano during the time she lived at Lakeport–1876-1888. Her granddaughter, Annie Paden, remembers her playing piano beautifully, playing for her own pleasure” and at “weddings and special occasions throughout her adult life.”

The 1500 lb piano was likely left in the house in 1917, when Victor Johnson and his family moved to Greenville, Mississippi. There it stayed until the fall of 1950, when Alvin Ford and his family moved into the home. It was then moved to the Epstein Gin and put in storage.

When Lakeport received the piano, it had been sitting on its side for 60 years; rodents had chewed on some of the wood; the legs were detached with some damage; the piano’s lid was completely split; strings were broken, and the piano’s rosewood finish was unrecognizable.

Bradshaw Piano Services of Conway was selected to do a museum quality restoration of the piano. Barry and Phyllis Bradshaw have over 75 years of combined work in the piano restoration and quality control. Bradshaw Piano disassembled the piano, replaced missing rosewood veneer, cleaned and re-plated hardware, repaired damaged legs, restrung the piano, replaced blue steel tuning pins…(the list goes on)..,and restored the rosewood finish (matching the faux rosewood doors in the home).

We are excited to have the piano back at Lakeport. It is beautifully restored and again a centerpiece in the home. We hope you come out to see it.

P.S. Our next event will be Barry Bradshaw talking about restoring the piano. Time and Date still to be determined.

Lakeport Adds Plantation Bell to its Collection

On Monday, December 14, 2009, Dr. Hal Rucks Sessions III and his wife Marilyn presented the 1856 Luna Plantation Bell to the Lakeport Plantation Museum. The bell will be on permanent display on the grounds of the antebellum Lakeport home.

The 1200 lb Luna Plantation Bell is ornately decorated with lyres, cherubs and roses. It was cast at the Buckeye Foundry in Cincinnati, Ohio by George W. Coffin. It has not been back in Chicot County since the around 1880, when it left Luna Plantation for the Glen Aubin Plantation in Coahoma County, Mississippi.

Daniel and Richard Sessions, brothers, came to Chicot County in the 1840s from Natchez, Mississippi. The brothers owned Luna Plantation, north of Lake Chicot, from about 1844 until 1878. The Johnsons of Lakeport knew Luna and the Sessions very well. Lydia Johnson’s sister, Theodosia Taylor Sessions, was married to Daniel Sessions. In addition, the only known surviving letter from Lycurgus to Lydia was written to her while she was visiting the Sessions at Luna and he was on a steamer headed for Lexington, Kentucky.