Annual Antiques Forum begins Sept. 9

Published 11:36 pm Sunday, August 22, 2010

Furniture isn’t just for sitting, and art isn’t only decorative.

The pieces also tell the stories of American history.

Combining the country and region’s history and the beauty of antiques, the Pilgrimage Garden Club is hosting its annual Antiques Forum Sept. 9 – 11.

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Distinguished speakers will give lectures around the forum theme of “The Golden Age: Antiques in the Antebellum South 1780-1860.”

Jeanette Feltus, one of the original founders of the Antiques Forum and the president of the Antiques Forum Advisory Board, said the forum was originally organized more than 30 years ago as a fundraiser to restore Kings Tavern when it was owned by the Pilgrimage Garden Club.

Now the forum is a fundraiser for the upkeep and preservation of the club’s two properties, Stanton Hall and Longwood.

Forum co-chairman Eugenie Cates said the cost to maintain and preserve both historic properties is astronomical because of the age and the size of the homes. But, Cates said, the houses have to be maintained to preserve Natchez’s history.

“Longwood is like Natchez’s Eiffel Tower,” she said. “It is just an amazing landmark.”

Longwood, the largest octagonal house in America, was constructed around 1861. Stanton Hall was completed around 1857. Both houses are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The forum will get under way Thursday, Sept. 9, with registration and a cocktail reception at Stanton Hall to give attendees a chance to meet and mingle with the scheduled speakers.

The lectures will begin at 9:15 Friday morning when Wendell Garrett will open the forum with a talk titled “The American Arts: Facts and Fiction.”

Garrett is the editor-at-large of The Magazine Antiques and a antiques consultant for Sotheby’s.

Garrett has been affiliated with the Natchez antiques forum since it was established.

Bridget Green, co-chairman of the event, said having someone of Garrett’s stature help organize the event ensures forum attendees see top-notch speakers.

“These are all experts in their fields,” she said. “It is so special that we can get speakers of this quality in Natchez.”

Other Friday speakers will also include Jane Spillman, curator of American glass at The Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, N.Y., who will speak on the types of glass in Southern homes.

Cates said she found this topic interesting because glass was not manufactured in the Southern states until after 1860, so glass in houses had to be purchased elsewhere and then shipped.

The uses of non-precious metals such as copper, brass and even pot metal used in Cornelius and Baker chandeliers like the ones hanging in Stanton Hall, will also be a lecture topic on Friday Donald L. Fennimore, senior curators of metals at Winterhur Museum in Winterhur, Del.

Friday’s lectures will conclude with a presentation by Gregory Weidman, curator of Hampton National Historic Site in Towson, Md., about Baltimore Furniture from 1790-1830.

Cates said attendees don’t have to just be interested in antiques. She said the forum is informative for homeowners, homebuilders and decorators.

“This is a way for people to see many styles and designs of furniture and other pieces,” she said. “They may not purchase pieces, but they can determine what styles they are interested in for their home.”

Saturday’s lectures begin at 9 a.m. with a presentation titled “Feather, Fun and Flowers: Prints of Southern Flora and Fauna,” by Christopher Lane, co-owner of the Philadelphia Print Shop in Philadelphia.

Ron Miller, former director of the Historic Natchez Foundation will present a lecture on the Natchez furniture trade.

All of the lectures will be in the ballroom of the Natchez Grand Hotel.

Registration will be in the lobby of the Grand Hotel on Thursday.

There will be a bookstore set up in the Natchez Grand Hotel feature books by the speakers and other selections pertaining to the forums themes and lectures. The bookstore is open to the public.

The forum isn’t all talk, though. There are chances for the attendees to explore Natchez and its history.

On Friday, there is a scheduled exhibit of the Natchez in Historic Photographs exhibit with coffee served at 10:15 a.m., and Friday night there will shopping, cocktail and hors d’oeuvres in selected shops on Antiques Row in downtown Natchez.

The forum will conclude with a farewell tour and lunch that includes tours of The Burn, The Elms and the Governor Holmes House.

Marsha Colson, president of the Pilgrimage Garden Club, said the forum is an educational opportunity.

“If people have never attended an antiques forum, ours or one elsewhere, they should give it a try just to have a new educational experience,” she said. “I think they’d be surprised at just how much they could learn.

Tickets for the full forum are $150 for local residents and $275 for people coming from out of town.

One-day tickets for Friday are $175 per person and one-day tickets for Saturday are $125.

This year a special offer is available that allows attendees to attend two Friday lectures of their choosing, the coffee and photograph exhibit for $45.

“This is a great way for people who work or can’t get away for the whole weekend to enjoy a good sampling of the forum,” Colson said. “It is also a good way for people to choose the topics that interest them the most if they have a limited amount of time.

Tickets can be purchased by phone at 601-445-7479, online at or by mail at Antiques Forum, Attn: Jan Scarborough, P.O. Box 1776, Natchez, MS 39121.