By Camille Myers Breeze
Our 18-month-long project to conserve the Abraham Sacrificing Isaac tapestry culminated in its reinstallation last week at St. George's School in Middletown, Rhode Island.
With the help of school staff, the tapestry was easily installed in under 30 minutes. This left plenty of time for a trip to the archives, where a historic garment awaited assessment. Worn by the school's founder, Father John Hugh Diman,
this fur-lined wool overcoat is part of school legend. Father Diman would take the train from Providence to Newport, Rhode Island, every week year round, and wrote that he could not have made the walk to St. George's School in winter without his trusty fur coat. Inside the coat is a large breast pocket ample enough to accommodate a bible.
The St George's School archives also has a collection of sports memorabilia, including jerseys, football pants, sweaters, jackets, cleats, footballs, soccer balls, and baseballs. Painted on many of the balls are the dates of victories and the opponent's name. It turns out that the arch rival of St George's School is Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts. Just this year an Olympic hockey uniform belonging to Middlesex School was conserved at MTS.
At the end of the day, I gave a public presentation about the conservation of the Abraham Sacrificing Isaac tapestry. In attendance was Chad Loebs, the grandson of the tapestry's donor, and benefactor of the tapestry conservation project. Mr. Loebs descends from the Safe family, who owned the mansion where the tapestry hung, Ocean Lawn, until 1946.
Also among the crowd who came to celebrate the unveiling of the newly conserved tapestry was the son of the chapel's benefactor, also named John Nicholas Brown. The grand- daughter of Elizabeth Parke Firestone, wife of the Harvey Firestone, Jr. and owner of Ocean Lawn from the 1950's to 1990, also introduced herself to me. Evidence of the hard work of the development department can be seen throughout the furnishings, buildings, and landscape at St. George's School, as well as in the strong relationship between the school and its generous alumni.
You can also see more photos from this project on the Museum Textile Services Facebook page. While you're there, please "Like" us!