Va. Shore's past and present on display at exhibit

(Delmarvanow.com) -- When Long’s House was built around 1730, it was a simple saltbox home.

Today, the Modest Town residence has expanded significantly to include a back addition and gambrel recycled from another Eastern Shore home.

Visitors can learn more about this and 15 other houses of the Shore’s past and present in the exhibit “Architecture and Change: Preserving the Eastern Shore.”

On display through Dec. 9, the free exhibit scatters examples of area architecture throughout one of the Shore’s most famous historic homes, Ker Place, in Onancock.

It is the culmination of a project by the Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society, funded by a grant from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

“The Shore has a lot of different styles of houses because we’ve been here since the 1600s,” said Stephanie Templin, collections manager at the Historical Society, who helped assemble the exhibit.

Visitors can get a taste of those styles through the exhibit.

Inspired by a collection of photographs taken in the mid-20th century by Onancock physician John Robertson, Templin and volunteer Amy Higgins decided to put together a “then and now” display of historic Eastern Shore homes.

They began sifting through Robertson’s thousands of images of local houses, churches and beaches this spring and eventually landed on 30 photos of historic homes.

“Then we narrowed it down,” Templin said, by choosing images of houses the duo found architecturally interesting — such as the Winona residence with its three chimneys — and lesser-known on the Eastern Shore.

“Eventually we got to the point where we had to narrow it down to the ones we could actually find,” she said.

And that was no small order.

Many of Robertson’s photos listed the names of the houses pictured, but some recorded only the county in which a home resides.

With a combination of research using Ralph T. Whitelaw’s “Virginia’s Eastern Shore” and word-of-mouth, Templin and Higgins were able to locate 16 of the original houses, which are highlighted in the Ker Place exhibit.

By leaving notes, they reached some of the owners, too, and learned more about the histories each home.

Those histories are featured on placards in the exhibit, which show a smattering of historical Eastern Shore architecture, from the symmetrical facades of Colonial Revival houses to the Victorian-style homes ubiquitous in old railroad towns.

“This is just a very, very small part of that larger collection,” Templin said of the Robertson photos.

On Friday, Oct. 20, guests can catch a lecture and book signing by Rosemary Thornton, an expert on Sears kit homes, at the exhibit.

Templin described the kit houses as “Ikea homes” shipped in parts on freight trains in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Thornton will discuss how to identify Sears homes, why they’re still significant and how to preserve them in the hour-long talk, she said.

The lecture takes place from 6-7 p.m. at Ker Place and is free for Historical Society members. It costs $5 for non-members.

“Architecture and Change: Preserving the Eastern Shore” is on display at Ker Place through Dec. 9.  Visitors can see the exhibit during regular museum hours, Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

The exhibit and tours of historic Ker Place run on a free, by-donation basis.

Visit www.shorehistory.org to learn more about the Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society and its upcoming events.

 

IF YOU GO

Architecture and Change: Preserving the Eastern Shore

When: Through Dec. 9

Where: Ker Place, 69 Market St., Onancock

Info: www.shorehistory.org

Delmarvanow.com


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