Downtime at Blithewold?

The decorations have all been taken down, the Christmas trees are back in the basement, and the rooms at Blithewold look bare and forlorn, with only odd bits of leaves and glitter on the floor reminding us that just last week Blithewold was a wonderland that was enjoyed by thousands of visitors. There is no longer the delicious smell of baking coming from the kitchen, and the front door is closed until April 1st which seems an awfully long time ahead right now…..

Staff will continue working through the winter months, making plans for another season of events, exhibits, and programs.

So “downtime”, certainly not! January and February are often taken up with our concert series with Opera Providence, but this year the Dining Room, Breakfast Porch, and Butler’s Pantry will be buzzing with maintenance activity. The Dining Room ceiling will be re-painted, and then all the china from the plate rail will be taken down to clear the space for restoration of the original blue canvas-backed wallpaper. All the blue and white china will be cleaned, photographed, and marked with permanent accession numbers before being replaced carefully in exactly the same position on the rail that each piece has held for almost 110 years.

At the same time, all the china and crystal in the Butler’s Pantry will be taken to the Breakfast Porch for cataloguing. Computers and cameras will be set up for processing and every piece will be photographed, marked, researched, documented, and entered into our collections database.

Upstairs on the 3rd floor volunteers will continue working on costumes, paintings, books, linens, letters, and diaries. A new collection of Ario Pardee Jr.’s diaries and civil war papers will be stabilized, transcribed, and interpreted so that their stories can be shared with members and visitors. Two gowns from the Costume Collection are being conserved for exhibit – party dresses worn by Marjorie thirty years apart, in 1904 and 1934. Also, a small exhibit of children’s garden books will be assembled.

Add to this the floor polishing, window cleaning, and carpet cleaning that are part of the regular annual maintenance schedule. Staff will be planning weddings and Daffodil Teas; the Horticulture department will be designing new gardens, ordering plants, and making repairs to the heavily used and essential equipment.

We wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year, and look forward to seeing you in late February!