Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmases Past at Tudor Hall (Left Click on Photos for Larger Images)

This photo appeared on the cover of the very first issue of PATHWAYS, the newsletter of the Preservation Association for Tudor Hall, which was published in November 1984. The photo also appeared on Christmas cards sent by Howard and Dorothy Fox who made Tudor Hall their home from the late 1960s to the late 1990s. (Photo by Sally Cassilly courtesy of Jill Redding)

This photo of Howard and Dorothy Fox was taken at Tudor Hall in 1985 by Booth scholar Mike Kauffman. Mike recalls, "The annual Christmas party was their favorite big event, and they went all-out to make it a special occasion."

According to veteran Tudor Hall tour guide Kris Thomson, Howard Fox made a resolution one Christmas while serving in Europe and North Africa during World War II that, if he survived the war and returned home, he would always celebrate Christmas in a big way, and he and Dorothy certainly kept that resolution over the years at Tudor Hall. (Photo courtesy Mike Kauffman)

This beautiful photo of Howard and Dorothy Fox was taken during the last Christmas season they spent together at Tudor Hall in 1998 and captures the generous and outgoing spirit of these two remarkable people who graciously opened Tudor Hall to innumerable visitors over the 30 years they owned Tudor Hall. Unfortunately, Howard and Dorothy both died within a few short months after this photo was taken. (Photo courtesy Ann Phillips and Jill Redding)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fall 2008 Tours of Tudor Hall Very Well Attended (Left Click on Images to Enlarge)

We expect to resume guided tours of Tudor Hall in the spring of 2009. If you didn't have a chance to tour Tudor Hall this fall, we hope you'll be able to join us next year. Keep an eye on the blog for more information about our spring tours.

Our fall 2008 tours were very successful. According to our best estimate, 170-175 people attended our guided tours this fall. The tours took place on October 26 and November 2, 8, and 16, at 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00 PM. On November 16 we added a 4:00 PM tour due to popular demand.

The final tours of Tudor Hall for 2008 took place on a very chilly Sunday afternoon. Don Rutter and his tour group braved the cold to take a look at architectural features visible at the back of the house. Don is a very animated and engaging tour guide. Spirits of Tudor Hall is very blessed with a new and growing group of enthusiastic and dedicated guides.

See "posts" below for more info about our fall 2008 tours and other events.

Edwin Booth 175th Birthday Celebrated at Tudor Hall, November 13, 2008 (Left Click on Images to Enlarge)

Spirits of Tudor Hall celebrated Edwin Booth's 175th birthday with a lively party at Tudor Hall attended by 27 people ("spirits" and their guests) who braved the perils of a rainy and foggy night to attend the party. Dinah Faber explained that Asia Booth's 173rd birthday will occur on November 20, 2008, and pointed out the image of Asia and white roses placed on the mantel in honor of Asia's upcoming birthday.

Highlights of the evening included the reading of greetings received from The Players (a club for gentlemen established by Edwin Booth in New York City) and from around the world (see three "posts" below).

Don Rutter, one of our most dedicated and popular tour guides, read a description of Edwin Booth's birth written by Edwin's sister Asia and published in her book The Elder and the Younger Booth.

We also heard a few words from Edwin Booth himself via a DVD created by volunteer Mike Brown. The DVD features a recording of Edwin reading from Othello with the lines scrolling over a slide show of images of Edwin. Mike got the DVD rolling while Pat McGuire waited on the "hot seat" to play his banjo.

The evening also included the presentation of our first "Edwin Awards" to each of the new tour guides who were present. The busts were originally created by Wayne Bohli for a celebration of the founding of The Players hosted by the Preservation Association for Tudor Hall in 1988.

Special guest Patrick McGuire talked about the history of the banjo and the popularity of banjo music in 19th century America. He also played and sang a number of toe tapping tunes as well as some lovely hymns and "songs of home." Many of the songs featured in his performance date to the Civil War era and one or two were written by Stephen Foster. Pat's wife, Katherine, assisted Pat with his performance with a beautiful reading. Since Edwin Booth played the banjo as a young man, banjo music was especially appropriate to the evening.

Kathy Cochran of Center for the Arts baked a delicious cake and brewed up a delicious hot cranberry punch. A number of those attending brought their favorite appetizers to share. Everyone enjoyed sampling the variety of delicious treats that graced the table in the dining room.

Artist David Fried painted the portrait of Edwin that was placed in a position of honor for the party as well as portraits of Edwin's parents, Edwin's younger brother John Wilkes, and a watercolor and pen and ink of Tudor Hall all of which now grace Tudor Hall. We are always delighted to have Mr. Fried and his wife Betty as guests at Tudor Hall.

Ben Cox represented the Harford County Department of Parks and Recreation at the party. Ben is shown here chatting with Kathy Cochran of the Center for the Arts. Ben and his wife Tisha attended one of our tours this fall led by Don Rutter. Ben and Tisha give Don's tour "rave reviews."

Professional actress Jill Redding and her husband Frederick enjoyed chatting about old times with veteran tour guide Kris Thomson in the kitchen at Tudor Hall as the evening was winding down. Jill, Fred, and Kris were all close friends of Howard and Dorothy Fox and spent many hours at Tudor Hall enjoying the gracious hospitality of the Foxes.

Spirits of Tudor Hall Send Greetings to The Players In Honor of Edwin Booth's 175th Birthday

November 7, 2008

John Martello, Executive Director
The Players
16 Gramercy Park
New York, NY 10003

Dear Mr. Martello:

On the occasion of Edwin Booth’s 175th birthday, which will occur on Thursday, November 13, 2008, Spirits of Tudor Hall send greetings from Bel Air, Maryland, the birthplace of Mr. Booth, to you and all the members and staff of The Players.

Edwin Booth’s life began in Harford County on the Booth farm where Tudor Hall, the home built by Mr. Booth’s parents, still stands. Mr. Booth’s life reached its end at The Players which still stands as the most enduring and significant monument to Mr. Booth’s illustrious life and career on the American stage.

In recognition of the special occasion of Mr. Booth’s 175th birthday and of the history that connects Tudor Hall and The Players, Spirits of Tudor Hall salutes Edwin Booth and his lasting legacy as it is represented both here in Harford County at Tudor Hall and in New York City at The Players.

Here’s to Edwin Booth, the Prince of Players! Long may his memory endure!


Dinah Faber for Spirits of Tudor Hall

The Players Send Greetings to Spirits of Tudor Hall in Honor of Edwin Booth's 175th Birthday

November 13, 2008

Dinah Faber for Spirits of Tudor Hall

Dear Dinah:

How wonderful that this day, the 175th anniversary of the birth of Edwin Booth, will be celebrated at the same moment at Tudor Hall where he was born and at The Players, where he died on June 7, 1893.

How lucky, also, for all lovers of the American Theatre and American history that both Tudor Hall and The Players still stand and flourish despite many years of severe challenges to Mr. Booth’s first and final homes.

The most important thing, however, is that it is the spirit and legacy and greatness of Mr. Booth that flourishes and motivates us to this day to continue to work for the restoration and maintenance of these physical monuments and also for the fellowship and scholarship that he tirelessly promoted.

It is certainly not for nothing that generations of actors have flocked to Gramercy Park to pay homage to Mr. Booth’s bedroom and to wander through our halls where many of the great ones of our profession have trod and are now commemorated on our walls. We commemorate them too with the array of play readings, lectures, musical programs and other events that fulfill Edwin Booth’s mission of celebrating the American theatre.

And how many have made their way to Bel Air to pay homage to the birthplace of this great figure? It is very exciting to all of us here to know that Tudor Hall still stands and that plans are underway to create programs that will carry out Mr. Booth’s mission there.

And so, we at The Players lift a glass to Tudor Hall and to Edwin Booth! Happy birthday!


John Martello
Executive Director
The Players

Edwin Booth Birthday Greetings Received from Around the World

A number of people from around the world sent email greetings to Spirits of Tudor Hall on the occasion of Edwin Booth's 175th birthday celebration at Tudor Hall on November 13, 2008:

Jennie Carter (descendant of Edwin’s half-brother Richard Junius Booth; Jennie lives in Australia with her family, and she and her husband and one of their sons visited Tudor Hall a couple of years ago; Jennie’s daughter is currently appearing onstage in the Covent Garden section of London), Nov. 10: “Happy full moon night on Edwin's birthday, I wish I was there!!! What fun. Australia is too far away.”

Daniel Watermeier, Nov. 10, (Author of Between Actor and Critic: Selected Letters of Edwin Booth and William Winter; Edwin Booth's Performances: The Mary Isabella Stone Commentaries; and other essays on Edwin Booth's career and performances.): “"Happy 175th, Edwin, or, Ted, as your friends called you. Since I have lived with your shade for over 40 years now, I feel as if we are friends. God willing before your 180th, your biography on which I've been working for far too long will be completed. If somehow this message enters the astral sphere, and I know you did believe in this possibility, please give my warm regards to Mr. Barrett."

Gary Sloan (professional actor, former director of the Preservation Association for Tudor Hall, current head of the MFA Acting Program at Catholic University in Washington DC. Gary has performed his one man Edwin Booth show in Bel Air on several occasions) Nov. 12: “Edwin Booth was known to have said that an actor's work is carved in snow . . . but for those of us who for one reason or another are still inspired by his story, let's celebrate his life by being grateful for our own and newly determined to play our own parts to their fullest."

Laurie Verge, (Director of the Surratt House Museum), Nov. 13: “Mr. Booth, Your fame has endured the test of time. Those of us in the fields of history and the arts send greetings and thanks on this, your 175th birthday.”

Steve Archer (author of Junius Brutus Booth: Theatrical Prometheus), Nov. 13: “I'd like to add my greeting to Tudor Hall on Edwin Booth's birthday. Keep an eye out for meteors.”

Kelly Archer, Nov. 13: "To Dinah and all those celebrating the 175th birthday of Edwin Booth:

The three Archers (Steve, Kelly and Steven) who are charter members of
the Preservation Association for Tudor Hall, extend their good wishes
to you, the new Spirits of Tudor Hall, and our thanks for all you do to
keep the memories of this remarkable family alive.

Happy Birthday, Edwin. We shall lift a toast in your honor tonight.

Wish we could be there. The Archers 3”

Terry Alford (editor of John Wilkes Booth: A Sister’s Memoir; currently at work on a new biography of John Wilkes Booth), Nov. 13: “Happy birthday, Ned! Your sweet nature still attracts friends, and I hope you like what they are doing with the "Ranch," as brother John used to call it. Keep smiling on their efforts and be a guardian angel for the old homestead!”

Mike Kauffman (author of American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies), Nov. 13: “Congratulations on completing the first Tudor Hall tours in many years. Wish I could have been there.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Visitors Spell Bound by Tudor Hall

This marvelous photo was taken by volunteer Kathleen King during our first tours on Sunday, October 26, 2008. Young and old alike find the story of the Booths and Tudor Hall fascinating.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Photos From Our Fall 2008 Tours (Left Click On Photos for Englargements)

Caitlin Cox lead tours on Sunday, November 2, and again on Saturday, November 8 (when this photo was taken). Caitlin became fascinated by Tudor Hall and its history when she visited Tudor Hall as a child.

Debbie Hargrove also lead tours on November 2 and 8th. Debbie and her daughter Caitlin Cox (see above) make a great team.

Mike Brown lead the first tour of the day on Sunday, November 2, at 1:00 PM. Mike has done a lot of "homework" and written a script of his own that includes many stories from Asia Booth Clarke's The Unlocked Book (also published as John Wilkes Booth: A Sister's Memoir edited by Terry Alford). Mike also added some "dramatic" flourishes to his tour which got everyone's attention and were well received. Mike will be leading the 1:00 PM tour on Saturday, November 8th.

Lexi Uhland assisted with the tours on November 2nd, and her assistance was a big help. Volunteer tour guide Joyce Bauer observed Mike's tour as part of her preparation for leading her first tour of Tudor Hall on Saturday, November 8, at 3:00 PM. If you look carefully (left click on the above photo to see an enlargement) Lexi (in pink) and Joyce can be seen in the background.

Kris Thomson lead the second tour on November 2, at 2:00 PM. For more info about Kris, see below. Caitlin Cox and her mother Debbie Hargrove lead the 3:00 PM tour as a team. Caitlin and Debbie can be seen at the far left of this photo. (Left click on photo for enlargement.) Caitlin has fond memories of visiting Tudor Hall as a child and persuaded her mother to join her in leading tours with her this fall. Caitlin and Debbie make a great team, and we are so pleased to have them with us.

Kris Thomson did us the honor of leading the first official Spirits of Tudor Hall tour at 1:00 PM on Sunday, October 26, 2008. Kris was the lead tour guide at Tudor Hall during the years Howard and Dorothy Fox owned the property (late 1960s to late 1990s). Kris was also active in the Preservation Association for Tudor Hall (PATH). We are delighted Kris is taking an active role in helping us launch our new tours.

Don Rutter (center of photo, facing camera) lead the third tour on October 26 at 3:00 PM. Don is an experienced tour guide who has led tours at Oriole Park/Camden Yards as well as trolley tours in downtown Baltimore. Don studied hard in preparation for leading his first tour at Tudor Hall and has gained an amazing amount of knowledge of the Booth family since attending our first meeting on September 17, 2008. We are very fortunate to have such an enthusiastic and committed volunteer!

Kathy Cochran of the Center for the Arts led the middle tour on October 26 at 2:00 PM. Kathy's delight in Tudor Hall and its history is obvious, and Kathy's assistance with numerous aspects of the volunteer program has been invaluable.

All told, over 80 people have attended our tours so far this fall. Needless to say, we are delighted to be off to such a great start!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Booth/Mitchell Family Members Attend Our Meetings Oct. 5th and October 19th

We were delighted to have Joanne Hulme and her grandson Joshua attend our meetings on Sunday afternoon, October 5, and October 19, 2008, at Tudor Hall. Joanne is the great-great granddaughter of Junius Brutus Booth's sister Jane who married James Mitchell. Joanne brought some photos, books, and other items of family memorabilia to share at both meetings.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

September 17, 2008, Meeting a Big Success

Be sure to check out the photos from the meeting in the post below.

On Wednesday evening, September 17, 2008, 30-35 people attended the first meeting of Spirits of Tudor Hall. Twenty-two people filled out contact sheets offering to serve as volunteers in a variety of ways, including a good number who are interested in leading tours. In addition, 16 people who could not attend the meeting have expressed an interest in volunteering. Needless to say, this is a very exciting and encouraging response.

The interests, skills, and qualifications offered by the volunteers are simply amazing. The list includes history addicts of various kinds, actors, musicians, dancers, librarians, photographers, writers, experienced researchers, public school and college teachers, people who have served as docents at Tudor Hall and other historic sites, young people who are excited about learning more about Tudor Hall, people with "willing hands" to offer for a variety of tasks, and on and on.

I am really looking forward to getting to know each one of you and to putting you to "work."

To summarize the meeting:

Sallee Filkins, director of the Center for the Arts, welcomed everyone to Tudor Hall. Then I introduced some of the long time Tudor Hall supporters in the crowd (Kris Thomson, Mary Iacchei, Darin D'Onofrio, Jill Redding, Elwin Penski, Jim Wollon, Betty and David Fried, Lee Pucklis, Maryanna Skowronski).

I then took everyone on a whirlwind "tour" through the seven page handout I'd prepared for the meeting. I can email or snail mail a copy of the handout to anyone who would like one.

The handouts include a reading assignment: American Gothic by Gene Smith followed by John Wilkes Booth: A Sister's Memoir by Asia Booth Clarke (edited by Terry Alford) and Junius Brutus Booth by Stephen M. Archer. I also recommended American Brutus by Mike Kauffman to those interested in learning more about the assassination.

I was in a hurry because we had three very exciting guests: Susan Wooden, Kathy Scholl, and Vern Hart who are docents and re-enactors associated with the Hays House (oldest house in Bel Air) and Jerusalem Mill (historic site on the Gunpowder River). They were all dressed in costumes which they described at some length. Vern also provided me with some wonderful resource info for researching and purchasing Civil War era costumes which I will be including in the docent handbook.

We closed the meeting with some quick questions from those attending the meeting. Then we adjourned for refreshments and socializing. A number of people brought delicious goodies to share (thank you!), and Kathy Cochran of the Center for the Arts baked fresh cookies in the Tudor Hall kitchen just before the meeting which filled the house with a delicious, welcoming aroma.

The next meeting of Spirits of Tudor Hall is scheduled for Sunday afternoon, October 5, at 2:00 PM at Tudor Hall. Volunteers who attend will be given a tour of Tudor Hall, and I hope to have the first installment of the docent handbook ready to distribute at that time.

More details about the October 5th meeting will follow.

Knock on wood, Spirits of Tudor Hall appears to be off to an excellent start, and I want to thank everyone far and wide who is with us "in spirit."

Dinah Faber

September 17, 2008, Meeting Photos

Jill Redding (in red flowered blouse). Jill is a professional actress with a long history with Tudor Hall and an interest in murder mystery theatre. Jill appeared in 10 episodes of season two of The Wire.

Elwin Penski (far right in blue shirt) founder of the Junius B. Booth Society ( and webmaster for the Historical Society of Harford County website. Elwin also prepared the wonderful framed poster that hangs in the "Booth Room" at Tudor Hall.

In third row on far right in green striped shirt: Lee Pucklis, theatre professional who does a lot of work in Philadelphia and whose parents live in Harford County.

Vern Hart wore the costume of a gentleman of the Civil War period and discussed his costume in detail.

Cindi Leyko-Fleischman (left) spoke to Kathy Scholl after the meeting.
Kathy Scholl wore the attire of an 18th century woman of "middling" means. Kathy removed some of her outer attire to reveal her petticoat, pockets (tied on a string around her waist), and corset. Fascinating!

Susan Wooden enjoying the refreshments served in the dining room after the meeting. A big THANK YOU to Susan, Kathy, and Vern for such an interesting, informative, and fun presentation!

James T. Wollon is the great-grandson of Ella Harward Kyle Mahoney who lived at Tudor Hall from 1878 until her death in the house in 1948. Her first husband Samuel A. S. Kyle bought Tudor Hall as a wedding gift for his young bride. Jim is a preservation and restoration architect.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Spirits of Tudor Hall Featured in Baltimore Sun

On Sunday, August 17, 2008, an article entitled "A House Where History Lives" by Cassandra A. Fortin appeared in the Harford section of the Baltimore Sun. The article describes Spirits of Tudor Hall and our "plans to reopen Booth home for guided tours." If you would like to receive a copy of this article (either by email or snail mail), please contact Thank you.