On Monday, I had the great privilege of delivering a talk at Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library under the title of "The House at Four Corners." I spoke with staff members and other Winterthur associates in a room called the Charleston Dining Room. I discussed the history of the room—that is, the room's carved wall panels and windows—in the context of the lives of the family who once owned the hotel from which it came. I also wrote a post for Winterthur's blog.
The talk was related to a book project I have in its early stages, in which the story of the hotel (and the stories of the Charleston family who established it) will frame a story about black identity, African American nationhood, and the struggle to resist racism and articulate an inclusive vision for American society before the Civil War.