In April, 1997, Jane Tucker fulfilled a twenty year goal to ensure that Castle Tucker, her family's home for one hundred and forty years, would be preserved and open to the public by signing the papers that deeded the property and its contents to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA). One of the most important historic properties SPNEA has ever received, Castle Tucker, in Wiscassset, ME, is an outstanding 19th-century complex that survives intact with its buildings, land, extensive furnishings and detailed manuscripts. Few places in the country offer as complete a view of life in the period 1858 to the early twentieth century.
Castle Tucker's collections comprise roughly five thousand items--household furnishings, wearing apparel, vehicles and agricultural implements. The furniture ranges from complete bedroom sets purchased in Boston in 1858 to a standing partners desk that may well have been used in Richard Tucker's mercantile office. Ceramics and glass include both everyday and formal sets of dinnerware, in use by the family since the mid-nineteenth century, as well as glass fish net floats picked up as souvenirs during sea voyages. The textiles include an array of curtains dating from 1858 and the 1890s, floor coverings from braided rugs to Brussels carpets to woven rush matting, and a large assortment of table covers, table runners, and table mats. Prints include English steel engravings, Currier and Ives lithographs, and Louis Prang chromolithographs. The kitchen includes a wood stove for cooking, an early 1920s electric stove, and all the tin, iron, and steel implements needed for preparing food in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
This application seeks funds to support a project to thoroughly document the roughly 5,000 objects that comprise the furnishings of Castle Tucker. The process entails object-by-object cataloguing by knowledgeable cataloguers; evaluation by SPNEA staff and curatorial consultants; analysis by staff, consultants and advisors; record photography of most of the objects; and data entry of all of the worksheets. Objects not on view will be provided with acid-free storage materials, and works of art on paper will be rematted with acid-free materials and returned to their original frames. In addition, the manuscripts that support this collection will be catalogued and microfilmed, with one microfilm placed on deposit in the Wiscasset Public Library, and the other placed in SPNEA's archives. Oral history will be conducted with Jane Tucker whose intimate knowledge of the contents of her family's home--where items came from, who used them and how--will round out the information that is recorded.
The result will be an unparalleled opportunity for researchers to use a wide range of types of information--object records, manuscript materials, and oral history transcripts--to investigate an extraordinary family in the 19th and early 20th centuries both in their domestic environment and in the community in which they lived.