Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Next Big Adventure

I am very excited to be starting a new adventure. This one was too hard to resist.

A few  weeks ago I did a short post on the Fairbanks House in Dedham, Massachusetts. The Fairbanks house has the unique distinction of being the oldest timber frame house in the United States. Imagine how a house historian would feel living within a half hour of the oldest house in America!

I finally realized I was missing an incredible opportunity. I felt this house could have a lot to  teach me about history, architecture, research and how people value historic houses.

This Spring I signed up to be a docent for the 2012 open season.  The program is run by curator Meaghan Siekman and the training started in February. During the training sessions I will learn about the family, the house's place in history as well as details about architecture and museum pieces.

I am both excited and terrified at the same time. I am really excited to be able to learn about the house and view it on a regular basis. When I work with private clients I typically only get to see a house a few times. Now I will be able to learn and observe on a weekly basis. I am also excited to work with tour groups. I love meeting people and I'm sure I will learn a lot from the many people who will come through the house. Undoubtedly they will include Fairbanks descendants, historic house lovers and hopefully some archaeologists, historians and architectural historians as well. I hope I will be able to learn from them just as they are learning from me.

I am slightly terrified, however, at the thought of trying to remember 8 generations of Fairbanks family history. On top of that I will need to know architectural details and information about the museum pieces. But my excitement is greater than my fear and I can't wait until the house opens and the tours start in May.

If you're coming to Massachusetts in 2012 put the Fairbanks House on your list. You just may have me as your tour guide!



16 comments:

  1. I am sure that you will do an awesome job. As for the family history, I know that that will come to you naturally. Enjoy!

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  2. Oooh boy! You might have a big group of Rojos and Wilkinsons as your first tour!

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  3. Greetings Marian,
    What an exciting opportunity for you. Your love of historic houses and family history will no doubt shine through your nervousness. You will be great!

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  4. How exciting, Marian! Enjoy the whole process, and I know you'll love sharing your knowledge/excitement with the people who visit. Cheers!

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  5. You will have fun!! I was a docent when I lived in Charleston for the Nathaniel Russell House and loved it! It was fun to interact with the tourists since most folks who take the tours actually LIKE history and aren't forced to do so (few exceptions of course!!).

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  6. I'm also looking forward in touring the house, as long as you are the guide. Good luck!

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  7. What a great idea! I know that my volunteer work with a state historical society teaches me so much about genealogy and libraries that it is invaluable. May you have rich returns from your work there.

    I haven't been through the house yet, myself, so now will put it on my calendar for this summer. Love to have you as my guide, so post your schedule at some point.

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  8. Great! I know if you start telling me I am related to a branch of the Fairbanks line, then I will know you have completely lost it. We'll look forward to some interesting photos!

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  9. I'm excited for you, Marian! I was a docent at an historic home in New Orleans for several years and loved it. It was also the home of my paternal ancestors which made it extra special to me.

    I can certainly relate to your fear about having to remember so much. Before I gave my first tour, I taped myself giving the talk, went over and over it, refining it along the way. When the day came to solo, I felt better prepared. As it turned out, I only used the beginning of my "practice" talk then felt comfortable enough to ad lib.

    Have fun "docenting"! It's a great experience.

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  10. >>> "I am both excited and terrified at the same time."

    How well I know that feeling! I'll pass along some excellent advice that was given to me: You don't need the butterflies in your stomach to go away, You just need them to fly in formation.

    Harness that energy and enjoy!!!

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  11. That's wonderful. You will do great. You are an excellent speaker and if anything can help spur a great memory for detail, it is juggling all these ancestors around in our heads. I feel it's probably better than sudoku and crosswords for keeping our minds active. Enjoy!

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  12. Great to hear, Marian. Congratulations! As I said once before, this house is on my "must see" list. I'll make sure I visit on a day you're giving tours!

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  13. I'm adding it to my ToDo list! See you there.

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  14. I will let everyone know my schedule as soon as I have it!

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  15. I'm just wondering how you will have the time to do this too! You are truly inspiring, my dear. Have fun with it!

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  16. Many congratulations NE House Historian. I only discovered the Historic New England Houses on my holiday in Maine last year. I so enjoyed the tours which really gave an insight into the homes and their former inhabitants. I will need to check whether Fairbanks House is on near my itinerary this September. One disappointment is that so many have very limited opening days.

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