Woodlawn Plantation presents needlework exhibit


February 27, 1994|By Dorothy Fleetwood | Dorothy Fleetwood,Contributing Writer

The Woodlawn Plantation Needlework Exhibition not only has the distinction of being America's oldest and largest needlework exposition, but this year it has been voted one of the top 20 events in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Board. It opens on Saturday and runs through March 27 at Woodlawn, home of Martha Washington's granddaughter, Nelly Custis Lewis, in Alexandria, Va.

"A Stitch in Time" is the theme of the show, which attracts more than 1,000 entries from all over the United States and even from abroad. It is open to both amateur and professional needleworkers, whose work can be seen throughout the historic mansion. George Washington presented Woodlawn to Nelly as a wedding present when she married his nephew, Maj. Lawrence Lewis, in 1799. Nelly was an avid needleworker, and many of her pieces are in the museum's collection.

Nationally recognized judges will make their selections at the beginning of the week, and the list of winners will be posted on opening day. Categories include furniture, holiday decorations, home accessories, miniatures, personal accessories, pictures, pillows, religious works, rugs, samplers, apparel and wall hangings.

A highlight of the show is the exhibit from the Woodlawn Historic Collection. This is the first time the entire collection of the family's needle art has been displayed at the same time. You'll see work by Nelly Custis Lewis and by her daughter, Angela Lewis Conrad, 19th-century needlework tools and unfinished patterned needlework. The most memorable piece in the collection is the Anna Austin Mourning Picture, stitched in silk on silk with a background of oil on silk. When you stand right in front of the picture, you see a figure of a mourning husband and his dead wife, who leans against the monument. But when you view the picture from across the room, the leaning woman disappears and reappears as an angel perched in the tree watching over her husband.

Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults; $3.50 for seniors and students; free for under 5. Admission also includes daily demonstrations on weekdays of a wide range of needle arts. Luncheon will be served every day in the Woodlawn Pub between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

The plantation is at the intersection of Virginia Route 235S and U.S. 1 in Alexandria. For information, call (703) 780-4000.

Gunston Hall open house

Gunston Hall Plantation in Lorton, Va., will welcome the public free of charge to its open house today from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Visitors can tour the home of George Mason, Revolutionary patriot and author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, meet colonial characters and look in on activities that were part of plantation life more than 200 years ago. There will be open-hearth cooking demonstrations and laundry processing, and children can learn a game that was played during colonial times.

Gunston Hall is 20 miles south of Washington and can be reached by Interstate 95 or U.S Route 1 to the Lorton exit. Call (703) 550-9220.

Women's History Month

* Women's History Month in March is noted by several sites in Virginia. Carter's Grove Plantation in Colonial Williamsburg will hold a forum commemorating five generations of women who lived on this 18th-century plantation. Through programs and a newly created tour, experiences of each of the five women will be revealed.

One of the women is socialite Molly McCrea who, along with her husband, was responsible for the plantation's rehabilitation. Their work began two years after John D. Rockefeller started restoration of Colonial Williamsburg; today Carter's Grove is part of the Colonial Williamsburg complex. The plantation includes a 750-acre estate; a Colonial-revival mansion; slave quarters; Wolstenholme Towne, the site of a 17th-century town discovered on the grounds; and the Winthrop Rockefeller Archaeology Museum.

The other women featured in the program are a 16th-century Native-American woman, a 17th-century English immigrant, an 18th-century plantation housewife and a late 19th-century black female sharecropper. Tours will be offered on Saturdays in March at 4:30 p.m. from the plantation's reception center.

Women are also the topic of Colonial Williamsburg's Winter Discovery Series this week from Tuesday to Saturday. Presentations range from a Native-American night gathering to a bride's arrival at the plantation by carriage.

Carter's Grove is eight miles east of Williamsburg on Route 60. It is open daily (except Monday) from mid-March through December from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is by Colonial Williamsburg Good Neighbor Card, Patriot's Pass, Museums Ticket or a $12 single admission ticket. Call (800) HISTORY.

* Women of 18th- and early 19th-century Virginia will be honored in March at Stratford Hall Plantation, birthplace of Robert E. Lee. An exhibit, "I Am a Woman: I Spend My Time . . . " features rarely seen examples of clothing and accessories, handwork and art work from museum collections.

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