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Staunton, VA-2019

The EAIA Annual Meeting in Staunton, Virginia, was a wonderful opportunity to explore our nation’s history. The Virginia Frontier Culture Museum has exhibits from most of the groups that emigrated to America in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries; recon- structed buildings and gardens tell the story of the Irish, the Germans, the English, and the Africans who settled here, as well as the native people who were here beforehand. The museum’s staff did a great job of interpreting these different groups, and members of the Contemporary Longrifle Association also had great presentations. Visiting Monticello, the home of President Thomas Jefferson, was an exercise in architec- ture, agriculture, politics, and enslavement. Jefferson was a man who had many interests; aside from being a master politician, he was an architect, farmer, woodworker, inventor, businessman, and voracious reader—some of these he did well and others were, well, not so successful. At Monticello we learned that he was profoundly influenced by architecture and he built, tore down, and rebuilt Monticello many times in his lifetime. He was also a very complicated person who fathered children by his wife and his enslaved personal servant, Sal- ly Hemmings. The gardens at Monticello were planted in order to feed the many people who lived on the mountaintop. Jefferson was an able gar- dener and introduced many new plants to Vir- ginia as he collected seeds and plants from his travels in the US and abroad. Those gardens and plants have been researched and planted in the recreation, using Jefferson’s plans. It was a treat to be able to learn about all of the avenues that he explored. One of my favorite activities in Staunton was a visit to the Taylor & Boody Organ Com- pany. We were treated to a wonderful tour of their factory to see how pipe organs are man- ufactured, much as they have been for hun- dreds of years. We watched as a mixture of lead and tin was poured to make sheets from which organ pipes are made. We saw the hand work and joinery that holds the organs togeth- er and learned that the wood is cut and dried in their own sawmill, as they have exacting standards for the oak, maple, and other hard- woods that are used to make their traditional pipe organs. At the end of the tour we were treated to a concert by a staff member on a 1,000 pipe organ located in a nearby church, needless to say the sound quality was superb! The tour had to be one of the most interesting and informative tours I have encountered in my travels. The participation of all fourteen employees made it even more special. You can learn about them on their website.

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