Sunday, August 16, 2015

Daughters of the American Revolution

Perhaps one of the best kept secrets in Washington, DC: the Daughters of the American Revolution headquarters and museum.  In more than 20 years in DC, I had never been once.  I would probably never have imagined there was a reason for me to ever go there, but a few months ago I heard they had an exhibit of early American quilts, so I ventured downtown on my own a few weeks ago after the family was all gone and Joseph was back in camp.  It's an incredibly beautiful building right across from the Ellipse.

I happened to get there exactly as a tour was starting, so I joined in and left the quilt exhibit to the end.  There are 31 "period rooms" spread out over 4 floors, each sponsored by a different state chapter, which "interpret life in America in a chosen time and place."  There are parlors, bedchambers, a tavern and kitchen, even a children's attic, all depicting "the way America once looked and lived."  Painted wallpaper, crystal chandeliers, cut glass finials, all just gorgeous!  Nice that there was also one of the earliest sewing machines in the Texas Room and a quilt in progress in the Vermont Room, since that's kind of my thing.  And in the Massachusetts Room, an actual tea box from the Boston Tea Party (though I was told not one that went overboard).

New Jersey: represented!  The room is decorated entirely from oak timbers salvaged from a sunken Bristish ship, from the wood paneling to the furniture.  The stained glass windows depicting different areas of New Jersey are also just lovely.

In the auditorium of Memorial Continental Hall is the DAR Library, where people come for genealogical research.  There are apparently nearly 30,000 family histories in the book collection.  Mine is not one of them.  I checked.  Guess there weren't too many Sicilians on the Mayflower.  Still, the architecture is impressive and the ceiling is just breathtaking.

There are certain rooms that the general public can rent out for functions.  If we ever do get around to that blowout wedding reception, I might have to look into the O'Byrne Gallery.  It opens onto an outdoor portico with covered rotunda, with 13 columns representing the original colonies.  You can see right through to the Washington Monument.  Amazing!

And then, there was still the quilt exhibit to see!

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