Coming up in our December issue

We visit New England in our December 2023 issue to take a unique double-look at the restoration and preservation of a historic 18th Century home. The project begins with the 1721 Lucas-Johnston House in Newport, Rhode Island. Scholar/owner Nicholas Scheetz restored it so meticulously—dare we say perfectly?—that the city presented its first-ever Doris Duke Preservation Award to him in 2007. Time, alas, does not stop and even perfection fades. To preserve the work of her late husband—Scheetz—Diana Pearson partnered with Historic New England to obtain a preservation easement that protects the house inside and out. Editor Jeanmarie Andrews details both the restoration and preservation.

We stay in New England to take a look at church pewter with Ware Petznick, who explains why ecclesiastic items survived while home and tavern pewter rarely does—pewter pieces might last only a decade under general use and was easily and often recycled. Church pewter received better care and survive to tempt modern collectors.

Rebecca Rupp adds spice to the December issue by examining the great American change in seasoning. Early colonists enhanced flavors only with local herbs, but when the merchants brought shiploads of spices from exotic lands flavors changed—perhaps just in time for Christmas gingerbread. Robert F. Moss tells the history of a snack ubiquitous in the South that sounds strange to Yankees, boiled peanuts.

Artist will learn about Henrietta Johnston, America’s first professional female artist who settled in Charleston in 1708 and supported her family by sketching portraits. She might have used aquamarine blue, a color once made from lapis lazuli—a beautiful hue but impossible to use as a dye. Instead fabric-dyers used indigo, which provided a range of blues that could be transferred to cotton cloth in what printers called the “lapis style.” Susan W Greene shares some rare surviving examples.

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