GTMS ENDOWMENT BENEFACTORS

In 2020, as plans for the Endowment were developing, a few unusual and generous benefactors provided significant donations to the Society for the benefit of the Museum.  We believe the story of these gifts deserve special recognition here.
  • Thomas Seligman's unusual gift of a miniature portrait of George Washington
  • First person reenactor Laurie Kittle's gift of costumes and a financial bequest
  • Long-time Museum docent and GTMS officer Kathy Kelly's initiating bequest
  • GTMS founding member Dick Sheridan's Memorial Fund
GEORGE WASHINGTON & THOMAS SELIGMAN
In the 18th century, George Washington was a frequent patron of Alexandria's City Tavern. His patronage helped Mr. Gadsby build the national reputation of his elegant establishment. Once again, his presence has helped support the future of Gadsby's Tavern and the museum it has become.

In 2020, Mr. Thomas Seligman, Curator Emeritus of the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University gave President Washington the opportunity to once again help Gadsby's Tavern. Mr. Seligman had inherited a tiny (about 4”x3”) but charming painting of George Washington from his grandmother, who came from a long-established banking family in New York. The early 19th-century miniature on ivory was donated to the Society with the intention that we would sell it to raise funds for our recently established Endowment fund. 

After several months of diligent research and outreach by the Potomack Company staff, the portrait went under the hammer in their November Historical Sale. Although the painter could not be identified, the researchers determined that the picture was similar to one painted by Benjamin Trott who apparently used the well-known Gilbert Stuart portrait as a model. The unknown artist of the miniature probably was also aware of a John Roberts mezzotint, which used the same Trott portrait. Obviously, plagiarism was already the highest form of flattery in the early 19th century. 

In the picture below Kristen Eastlick, President of GTMS, standing next to the much-blown-up reproduction of the miniature, is receiving the check for the nearly $5,000 auction results from Elizabeth Wainstein, owner and CEO of the Potomack Company on the far right. On the far left of is Anne Craner, Potomack’s Director of Fine Arts and the principal researcher on the piece. Second from the left is Peggy Harlow, the GTMS online operations and auctions coordinator.


LAURIE KITTLE (1957-2019)

On July 3, 2019, Laurie Kittle passed away at the age of 62 after a courageous battle with a rare form of cancer. Laurie was born in Kingston, Pennsylvania and graduated from George Washington University with a BA in History in 1979. Later, she also did Master's research at the University of Virginia and early in her career worked as part of the research team for "The George Washington Papers."

While employed as a business analyst for contractors of the Department of State, FBI, DIA, and the US Patent and Trademark Office, Laurie indulged her love of history, especially early American history. For almost 26 years she was a Tour Interpreter at Gunston Hall, George Mason's home in Lorton, Virginia. She was a co-founder and Coordinator of the Gunstonians, a living history volunteer organization. Laurie did living history performances as Mrs. Catherine McCauley Graham, Mrs. Sarah Mason, and Mrs. Lucy Knox for both Gunston Hall and Gadsby's Tavern Museum.

Within her family, Laurie was known for her occasional use of a very good British accent, perhaps picked up on her many trips to England. She also enjoyed several trips to France and Italy as well.  Her international travels allowed her to tour historic homes, churches, and castles, feeding her joy of history.

Laurie's love of history extended to demonstrating it, too, causing her to collect an extensive collection of period clothing and accessories, a collection she graciously donated to Gadsby's Tavern Museum. She portrayed upper class 18th century ladies and even a 20th century Alexandria preservation hero, Rebecca Ramsay. Her storytelling inspired thousands of visitors to Gadsby's and Gunston Hall who encountered Laurie during a special program or tour. She also mentored the next generation of first-person interpreters, helping bring to life our historic spaces.

A very generous bequest has made Laurie another one of the early benefactors to Gadsby's Tavern Museum Society and its support for Gadsby's Tavern Museum through the new GTMS Endowment. More about Laurie's life can be found here.


KATHY KELLY (1943-2019)

 Kathy Kelly was a docent at Gadsby's Tavern Museum for over 40 years. She was a Life Member of GTMS and served on the GTMS Executive Board for 12 years.  Kathy's support for Gadsby's Tavern Museum was extensive -- from working on and attending any number of GTMS events to a generous bequest to the Society, which became the seed money for the Endowment.  

You can see more information about Kathy, her work with GTMS, and a link to a memorial video here.


 


Dick Sheridan Memorial Fund

Dick Sheridan was a retired Immigration and Naturalization Service staffer and a founding member of Gadsby’s Tavern Museum Society. He and wife Kim became dedicated Museum volunteers in 1991, and Dick was well-known for baking bread sold at the 18th-century Fair, hawking refreshments and glow necklaces at Historic Alexandria Hauntings, tending bar at receptions, marching in parades, serving on the GTMS board, and raising money in countless ways for the Museum, especially for the Ballroom curtains fund. He passed away on December 17, 2002.

Within months, the Society board started discussing a long-term plan to honor his memory. Beginning as the Dick Sheridan Plaque Fund in 2003, it evolved into the Dick Sheridan Outreach Fund in 2004. Its goal was “to further the educational mission of the museum.” With this broad focus, the majority of the funds were used in the creation of the Museum’s Outreach Trunk that brings 18th century life to a classroom. Funds over the years were used for trunk materials, advertising in local and national social studies publications, mailing costs for schools requesting financial support, upgrading trunk materials, and making additional reproduction items available. Most recently, funds were used to purchase reproduction clothes for the Museum’s Junior Docent program.

The balance of the Dick Sheridan Memorial Fund has been moved into the Endowment to grow and serve its original purpose, to support the Peducational efforts of Gadsby’s Tavern Museum.