Tuesday, December 29, 2009

First Event of 2010!

The Haunting of Sotterley Plantation
Legends and Lore Tours
January 23, 2010
Two Tours: 5 pm & 7 pm

Over the years, many have lived at Sotterley Plantation … and died. Some have gone to their rest, yet others continue to be restless. On Saturday, January 23rd, Education Director, Carolyn Hoey will lead guests on this eerie after-hours tour experience through the over 300 year old Mansion.

Over the past few years, the Legends and Lore Tours have grown in popularity, with visitors coming from both near and far. At various times, some have had “experiences” of their own while taking this tour. For those who have longed to hear about actual spirit sightings from past to present at Sotterley Plantation, this is the tour to take. Stories of unexplained happenings will be shared, providing guests with enough information to decide whether or not they believe.

Space is limited.
Limited to ages 16 and up
Price: $20 per person
Two Tours: 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Group tours available.

For more information on Sotterley events, visit our website at www.sotterley.org.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

And So This Is Christmas ...

As I look out my office window at a snow covered Sotterley Plantation, I am, yet again, blown away by the magnificent beauty of this place. No matter how many times I walk the site, no matter what season, I always manage to see something new or something from an entirely different perspective. With three more days until Christmas, before heading out my office door, I wanted to share some photos from today's hike.
To you and yours, I wish the Merriest of Christmases!
Eileen Miller
Marketing Manager

Friday, December 11, 2009

Board of Trustees Bids Farewells and Welcomes New President

Jan Briscoe, Esq. and Ellen Zahniser

At the October 23, 2009 meeting, the Board of Trustees for Historic Sotterley, Inc. bid farewell to three trustees as it voted in a new Board President. Stepping down from the Board in 2009 are Nancy Dodge, Dr. Maggie O’Brien, and Board President Ellen Zahniser, and all three trustees were thanked for their dedication and years of service. Jan Briscoe was unanimously voted in as the new President of Historic Sotterley, Inc.

A special tribute was paid to Ellen Zahniser at CafĂ© des Artistes following the meeting, not only for her 10 year tenure on the board, but for serving her last years as President of the Board. Dick Moe, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was present at the event, and awarded Ms. Zahniser a commendation for her tireless efforts on behalf of Sotterley. Board of Trustee Vice President Julia Moe also paid tribute to Ellen as did others, and Ms. Zahniser’s generosity of spirit and can-do attitude will leave an impressive legacy behind, with special credit for starting and growing Riverside WineFest at Sotterley.
Historic Sotterley, Inc. is extremely fortunate as it continues its Board leadership with new President Jan Briscoe. Ms. Briscoe came onto the board in 2006, and is well aware of this National Historic Landmark’s challenges and special needs. A descendent of former owners of Sotterley, Ms. Briscoe follows in her father’s footsteps, the Honorable John Hanson Briscoe, who also served as Board President during the 1990’s. Her dedicated leadership will serve Sotterley well in the upcoming year.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Beautiful Touches

Today I walked over to the shed behind the Barn and there I found several Sotterley Garden Guild members busily and happily working - trimming, arranging, tying - creating the most beautiful touches of the season. And the great news is that they will be selling these expertly crafted items during this weekend's holiday events! As an artist, they are the ones who quench my visual thirst, making me very proud to be part of this place.
The Sotterley Garden Guild consists of 40 volunteers whose dedication tallies beyond 4,000 hours per year. Every Wednesday and Saturday, whether braving the extreme heat and humidity of a Maryland summer's day or bundled up with thermoses braced against the chill-you-to-the-bone February winds, they are here on site. They suit up and show up. Because of their passion for beauty, their fundraising efforts have brought in tens of thousands of dollars over the last 15 years. Because of their combined effort and dedication, all those involved with or who visit Sotterley Plantation, are beholden to the Garden Guild.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Three more days until our Holiday Candlelight Tours

This holiday season, Sotterley Plantation hosts its Holiday Candelight Tours with the theme, 'Sotterley Under Siege.' The dramatic production, based upon historical facts, is set in the year 1814 reenacting the effects of the War of 1812 that were felt at Sotterley Plantation.

The drama unfolds as the Plater family struggles to stay in the home and celebrate Christmas with family and friends. Unfortunately, the British Red Coats have claimed the home for their own, and smugly speak of their victories across the region, which begs the question, "Whose party is it, anyway?"

In each room of the 1703 Mansion, guests will be treated to the varying perspectives. Carrying candles, they first meet the ghosts of George Plater II and his wife Rebecca, past residents of the plantation who are up to no good. Winding their way from room to room, eventually guests will find themselves in the dining room – and the question is, "Is he who sits at the head of the table in control?"

This entertaining performance combines wit and humor with an important history lesson of Sotterley Plantation in the past. The script and production are the efforts of long-time Sotterley volunteers who give of themselves to make the Holiday Candlelight Tours a success event, year after year.

Set foot upon the grounds of Sotterley Plantation for the Holiday Candlelight Tours and become completely enchanted by the entire experience – be greeted warmly by the Sotterley staff and volunteers, listen to the live seasonal music and enjoy wassail and treats. Walk over to the Mansion and immediately enjoy a sense of being transported back in time.

The tour itself is a well-orchestrated performance combining the ever-important entertainment value with the true history of the time period. Reservation are required, but the cost is only $15 per person. Call (301) 373-2280 or visit www.sotterley.org for more details.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Candlelight Tours and Family Plantation Christmas - THIS weekend!

Our TWO BIG holiday weekend events are happening this weekend!

The Holiday Candlelight Tours - "Sotterley Under Siege!"
This Friday and Saturday only from 6pm - 10pm.
Each tour within the historic Mansion runs approximately 30 minutes; tours run every 10 minutes. This event requires advanced reservations, so please call the office at 301-373-2280 or 800-681-0850 to book your tour time now.

Sotterley is under siege by the British occupation. The family is determined to hold their annual holiday celebration no matter what! Family and friends join the Platers for a very entertaining evening which will be quite different than holiday celebrations experienced in previous years. Join the Sotterley Players as we step back in time and witness for yourself the unfolding dramatic holiday events. Live musical performances from local premiere high school choral groups and complimentary cookies will be available in the historic Barn, prior to the reserved tour time.

Family Plantation Christmas
Saturday, December 5th from 10am - 4 pm
Admission: $5.00 per person (Children under 2 Free)
This is a full day of fun for the whole family!
Take a horse-drawn taxi ride from stop to stop!
Visit Santa and Mr. Claus!
Kids shop at Santa's Secret Shop!
Parents shop at the Sotterley Museum Shop!
The 12 Days of Christmas Scavenger Hunt in the garden and win a prize!
Check out the John Deere train display and a selection of trucks and tractors!
See the dramatic production of "Mammy Reminiscence!"
Sing along with the caroling Girl Scouts!
Put on your best festive face with face painting!
Make seasonal Crafts to take home!
Holiday Greens Sale!
Bake Sale!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ho! Ho! Ho! Make Family Plantation Christmas part of YOUR holiday traditions!

With the jingling of bells, the Clydesdale horses from Suttler Farm will taxi merry-makers around Sotterley’s Family Plantation Christmas event, making stops at various locations for children of all ages to enjoy: whisper your wishes into Santa’s ear, meet Mrs. Claus - the ultimate “hostess with the most-est", write a letter to Santa with your full list, sing along with the caroling Girl Scouts, have your face festively painted, purchase gifts for family and friends at Santa’s Secret Shop, make holiday crafts to take home, and find the finds of the Twelve Days of Christmas Scavenger Hunt in the Sotterley gardens and receive a PRIZE! Stop in at the Customs Warehouse and learn what plantation life was like from the slave’s perspective, in the-back-by-popular-demand performance of “Mammy Reminiscence,” by Sandi English and her daughter Liana. Before leaving, don't forget to purchase the gorgeous handmade greens from The Sotterley Guild.
This IS the perfect family tradition!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sotterley Under Siege!

The British have occupied Sotterley Plantation and are celebrating in the Mansion, but the owners have found a creative way to stay in their home ... and I do mean CREATIVE!

Come and see how the drama unfolds during the 2009 Holiday Candlelight Tours! Every holiday season, visitors are transported back in time to a different era, this year's being The War of 1812. This historical dramatization takes place within the Mansion, which dates back to 1703.
Advanced Reservations are REQUIRED - no ticket sales at the door.
DATES: December 4 & 5th 6pm - 10 pm; tours are 30 minutes in length and run every 10 minutes.
Price: $15 per person.
301-373-2280 or 800-681-0850
No refunds. This is a fund-raising event, helping to keep Sotterley Plantation open to the public.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Employment Opportunity - become part of the tapestry

Education Instructors sought for the Spring 2010. Flexible hours with compensation. Training begins in January. If interested, please contact Carolyn Hoey, Education Director at 301-373-2280 or via email: education@sotterley.org.

Sotterley Plantation is an amazing place. Being part of its continuing history as an employee and a volunteer, I feel completely honored and grateful. From the very first moment I set foot on the grounds for the Holiday Candlelight Tours six years ago, I felt an immediate connection - a sense of place. Pretty incredible how things work out! There are so many people involved in keeping this place open and accessible to the public, who believe in the importance of preserving a significant part of the Southern Maryland tapestry, who believe that much can be learned from the past ensuring that the same mistakes are not repeated in the future, who believe in nurturing the spirit of community and connectedness. That all being said, how about becoming a vital part of communicating our rich history?

Monday, November 9, 2009

"Thank You" from the Executive Director

Community involvement is the heart of any non-profit. Those willing to participate in its offerings and programs are of course critical to its health and success, but every bit as critical is the volunteer support that makes these offerings possible. Sotterley Plantation has been blessed with the best volunteers in Southern Maryland, from its Garden Guild, Interpreters, Museum Shop workers, Hospitality Team, WineFest and Garden Fair committee members, office volunteers, event volunteers and more. We could not keep our doors open without each and every one.

Special thanks need to be given to a very special group that recently went the extra mile for Sotterley, and beyond. The Ghosts of Sotterley cast and crew exemplified what it means to be a truly selfless volunteer during the 2009 tour event. Under the talented leadership of Producer/Lead Director Dawna Diaz, Technical Director and wizard Ming Diaz, Production Assistant/Assistant Director James LePore, Writer Morriah Cell, Assistant Director Danyel McAllister, Makeup Supervisor Michael Conlon, and Stage Manager Anne Schwartz, this talented team of about 40 people met for months each and every week to fine tune what was undoubtedly our best production to date.

The event weekend provided further challenges as the weather turned cold and rainy for all three days, but tour after tour, the actors and crew endured daunting conditions along their stations on the grounds of Sotterley. They never wavered in their efforts to provide a first class production for our guests. Sotterley event volunteers who came specifically to work the Ghost Tour weekend also graciously worked under the less than ideal conditions, and the event could certainly not have taken place without their support.

Each volunteer for the Ghosts of Sotterley Tours knew that this event provides critical operational funds for Sotterley, and that their actions would make a very real difference to the site. My heart swells with pride as I think that Sotterley has been lucky enough to have these wonderful volunteers as our best faces and supporters for this event. May I offer my heartfelt thanks to every one of you, and the thanks of the entire Sotterley staff and Board of Trustees.

Also, I want to offer my thanks to all those in the community who braved the elements to come and see The 2009 Ghost Tours. You made this event a success and the efforts of all of our many volunteers worth it, and Sotterley offers its thanks to you as well.

With utmost gratitude,
Nancy Easterling
Executive Director

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Call for Volunteers, Cookies, and Bake Sale Items!

Dear Sotterley Volunteers,

Our Holiday Candlelight Tours will be held on December 4 and 5, from 6:00pm - 10:00pm. Family Plantation Christmas will be held 10:00am - 4:00pm on Saturday, December 5. We still have plenty of openings for volunteers to work at both Family Plantation Christmas and Candlelight Tours. If you are interested, please give me a call or email me at volunteer@sotterley.org.

At the Candlelight Tours we give Holiday Cookies and Apple Cider to our guests. We are in need of cookie donations for this event. The cookies can be home-made or store-bought. If you are able to donate Holiday Cookies, please email me at volunteer@sotterley.org. NEW this year, we will have a Bake Sale during the Holiday events. Sotterley's Event Manager, Linda Tucker and her mother, Carole will be heading up this bake sale. We are asking for donations for the Bake Sale such as cakes, pies, bread, etc. We would like to get a response for that as well, so we know how much to expect. Thank you all for your donations and support of Sotterley, we hope to see you at the Holiday events!

Brenda Evans
Historic Sotterley, Inc.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Only One Month Away!

Kick-off the holiday season with a historical dramatization of life at Sotterley during The War of 1812 in the Holiday Candlelight Tours at Sotterley Plantation, December 4th & 5th from 6 p.m.–10 p.m. The tours takes place inside the over 300 year old historic Mansion, which will graced with period decorations.

Sotterley is under siege by the British occupation. The family is determined to hold their annual holiday celebration no matter what! Family and friends join the Platers for a very entertaining evening which will be quite different than holiday celebrations experienced in previous years. Join the Sotterley Players as we step back in time and witness for yourself the unfolding dramatic holiday events.

Live musical performances from local premiere high school choral groups and complimentary cookies will be available in the historic Barn, prior to the reserved tour time.

The cost is $15 per person. RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED! Call 301-373-2280 to make your reservation at this Sotterley Plantation annual holiday event or for further information. Visit www.sotterley.org for more details.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Sotterley during Fall

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all."
- Stanley Horowitz
A mosaic, indeed! Sotterley is a magnificent place year-round, but this Fall has been something extra special - successful events, multitudes of new and old faces, and awe-inspiring colors.
Riverside WineFest at Sotterley was held October 3 & 4th on the prettiest of weekends, drawing a record number of people and making it our most successful year yet! This is a yearly event, always held the first weekend in October, rain or shine. The Sotterley Board of Trustees, the Sotterley Staff, Sponsors, Advertisers, Volunteers, Wineries, Exhibitors, Artisans, Musical Performers, Antique Dealers, Food Vendors, and all of the guests deserve a special THANKS for their support.
Two weeks later, chill-you-to-the-bone rains fell, but the show went on! The Ghosts of Sotterley Tours ran October 15, 16 & 17th, a dramatic production set during the war of 1812. Thanks to the dedication of the "Friends of Sotterley" acting troupe (braving hour after hour out in the elements - and for some, the mud) who all gave a most stellar performance. "This was definitely our best year yet! The script came alive and the special effects were incredible. As guests were leaving, they all spoke of the tour in the most positive way," said Carolyn Hoey, Education Director. Under the direction of Dawna Diaz and the technical wizardry of Ming Diaz, this year's script, written by James LePore and Morriah Cell had twists of intrigue and shock factor as never before. A huge thanks to everyone associated with the performance, the Volunteers, and all of the guests who bundled up for this not-to-be-missed walking tour.
And to top it off, the gardens have been incredible this year - like bathing in colors galore, thanks to the tireless devotion of the Sotterley Garden Guild.
The turkeys? Well, they showed up at the office door and were rewarded with pretzels.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Civil War Comes to St. Mary's County!

The last FREE lecture in the 2009 Speaker Series will take place on Friday, November 6th in the historic Barn at Sotterley Plantation at 7:00 p.m., featuring Dr. Bradley Gottfried, President of The College of Southern Maryland. Author of seven books (with the eighth due to be published in May) and two unit histories on the Civil War, Dr. Gottfried is also an accomplished cartographer. Call 301-373-2280 to reserve your seat!

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Full-Circle Event

Sotterley Plantation hosted the One Maryland One Book event in conjunction with the St. Mary's County Libraries on Sunday reaching maximum capacity in the historic Barn. Members of the Accokeek Foundation's award-winning Museum Theater, Jarren Fonville and Anika Prather presented, "Grandpa Joe and the Drinking Gourd." Janice Walthour, President of the Unified Committee for Afro American Contributions (UCAC) read excerpts from James McBride's novel, "Song Yet Sung", the 2009 selection for the One Maryland One Book state-wide read.

Nancy Easterling, Executive Director of Sotterley stated, "We had a terrific turn-out, and it was heartening to see the level of interest in the community for this special event and for the story told in James McBride’s book Song Yet Sung. It was an honor to be the host site for this terrific One Maryland One Book project event. This program spoke to our mission of education and to the interpretive history which we tell to our visitors here at Sotterley Plantation."

Carolyn Hoey, Sotterley Education Director escorted guests down Rolling Road to our newly restored original 1830's Slave Cabin, where she shared the experiences of Sotterley Plantation slaves. As part of the tour, she showed guests an 1826 inventory list of slaves who lived here.

"This was a full-circle event. Here we are on a historic location, on the very site where slaves lived," said Linda Tucker, Event Manager. "The diverse group of guests thoroughly enjoyed the outstanding performance by the actors from The Accokeek Foundation, as well as the wonderful reading, with the Slave Cabin tour connecting it back to the history here at our very location."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Follow the Drinking Gourd

Original 1830's Slave Cabin
A Note from the Membership Coordinator~
Dear Friends of Sotterley,

The St. Mary's County Library and Historic Sotterley, Inc. have partnered to bring the performance, "Grandpa Joe and the Drinking Gourd" to St. Mary's County. Members of Accokeek Foundation's award-winning Museum Theater will present the play on Sunday, October 25, at 3 p.m. in the Barn at Sotterley. The play is a special adaptation by Anika Prather of "Follow the Drinking Gourd".

Grandpa Joe and the Drinking Gourd to be performed at Historic Sotterley
This event is part of the One Maryland One Book state-wide read sponsored by the public libraries and Maryland's Humanities Council. This year's book, "Song Yet Sung" by James McBride is a gripping tale of escaped slaves and slave catchers. These slaves on the run used codes to communicate with one another. The play is about one of those codes, music, and its role in the Underground Railroad.

Excerpts from "Song Yet Sung" will be read by Janice Walthour. The United States Colored Troops Memorial Monument Committee will present a quick presentation to commemorate the event. Tours of the newly restored slave cabin will follow the program.

The program is free and open to the public.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Civil War Comes to St. Mary's County

The last FREE to the public lecture in the 2009 Speaker Series, "The Civil War Comes to St. Mary's County" will take place on Friday, November 6th in the historic Barn at Sotterley Plantation at 7:00 p.m., featuring Dr. Bradley Gottfried, President of The College of Southern Maryland. Author of seven books (with the eighth due to be published in May) and two unit histories on the Civil War, Dr. Gottfried is also an accomplished cartographer.

From the landing of Federal troops at Leonardtown in 1861 through the release of the Confederate prisoners at Point Lookout Prisoner of War Camp in 1865, St. Mary's County played an important role in the Civil War. Using illustrations and maps, Dr. Gottfried will describe the fascinating events that occurred during this turbulent period in our history.

Having worked in higher education for over 30 years, Dr. Gottfried has been a full-time faculty member, department chair/head at two colleges, Campus Dean for one of the campuses in the University of Wisconsin system, Chief Academic Officer, and President - at Sussex County Community College for six years, and currently at The College of Southern Maryland since 2006. His areas of expertise are quality improvement initiatives, forging community partnerships, and curricular development.

An important community outreach, the 2009 Speaker Series is yet another way Sotterley Plantation fulfills its mission. We are proud to partner with The Boeing Company to make this series a continued reality.

FREE to the public. Call for reservations: 301-373-2280.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The ULTIMATE in Spookiness!

The Ghosts of Sotterley Tours 2009 was a thrilling and chilling success! Last night the three nights of tours came to a close. The production was put on by the acting troupe "Friends of Sotterley" - who braved the rain and winds to do what they do best! Guests were treated to a historic dramatization taking place during The War of 1812 Era.

Making their way down the slate path to Rolling Road, visitors were greeted by the sinister tour guide cautioning them to keep their children close since "This year ... the ghosts can see you, too!" From the woods emerged a woman with the most blood-curdling screams, as she recounted the tragic loss of her husband and her baby. Gilbert the Slave, singing outside of the Slave Cabin, was startled and came out swinging his ax in fear for his life. The ghostly Admiral Cockburn and his band of terrifying minions didn't hesitate to take a guest into their clutches to a destination unknown. Gun shots rang out up the hill! More chaos erupted as brother and sister, George Plater V and Anne Plater, had a heated family argument on the front portico of The Mansion. A creepy child ghost glared at visitors as they turned into the gardens. Confusion about who was dead and who was alive ensued at the Sundial, as young love was cut short by the ravages of war. Making their way to a fire in the distance, the most gruesome of ghostly figures appeared, warning of "the uglies up ahead." The guilt-ridden British naval officer pleaded for forgiveness and for the crowd to take him from his miserable camp, to no avail. Rustling in the bushes. Eerie children begging for hand-outs. A learning moment from a living human being. The tour ended with the vanishing of the tour guide before the very eyes of the guests!