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Securing a future for "the prettiest house"

Aurelia Bolton's bequest to support Homewood Museum's directorship stems from her seven decades of involvement with the historic home
Posted June 7, 2017
Aurelia Bolton, left, and new Homewood Museum Director and Curator Julie Rose peer into Bolton's childhood bed, which she donated to the museum's collection. Aurelia Bolton, left, and new Homewood Museum Director and Curator Julie Rose peer into Bolton's childhood bed, which she donated to the museum's collection.

Aurelia Bolton's memories of Homewood — the Federal-era summer home that gives Hopkins' main campus its name — date to her earliest years. Her father, Charles Garland, Sr., later an influential chairman of the university's board of trustees, would take his family on evening strolls through the Hopkins campus, and young Aurelia enjoyed peeking through the house's windows.

"I thought Homewood was just the prettiest house," she recalls.

"[Aurelia] understands how deeply important Hopkins' museums are to history and culture, and what a vital resource they are for teaching and research. From the architecture to the collections and archives, they tell important stories.”
Winston Tabb

Seven decades later, Bolton honored her lifelong love for Homewood with a $100,000 bequest intention. The gift establishes an endowment fund to support the director/curator position for Homewood, which is part of Hopkins' Sheridan Libraries and University Museums.

"Homewood is one of the finest regional examples of Federal architecture, and an endowed directorship ensures that it will remain as such," says Bolton, a University trustee emeritus who serves on the Rising to the Challenge Campaign cabinet for the Libraries and Museums. She hopes that her gift inspires others to join her in fully endowing the position so that Homewood is always able to attract and retain distinguished professionals to lead the museum.

"Aurelia's unwavering advocacy has been phenomenal," says Winston Tabb, Sheridan Dean of the University Libraries and Museums. In addition to her gift to Homewood, Bolton helped secure gifts for an analogous position at the university's Evergreen Museum & Library last year. "She understands how deeply important Hopkins' museums are to history and culture, and what a vital resource they are for teaching and research. From the architecture to the collections and archives, they tell important stories."

Homewood's story began in the early nineteenth century, when Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, bought the land and gave it to his son as a wedding gift. Charles Carroll, Jr., finished building the house in 1808, and it remained in the family until 1839, when his son, Charles Carroll V of Doughoragen, sold it. The property changed hands a few times more before the Keyser and Wyman families donated the house and surrounding lands to the university. Recognized by the National Historic Register, Homewood serves as the architectural inspiration for the North Baltimore campus.

By directing her gift to endowment, Bolton is providing future Homewood leadership more flexibility to implement innovative ideas in interpretatoin, programming, and exhibitions.

"Homewood is a major American architectural treasure," says new director/curator Julia "Julie" Rose, who previously directed the West Baton Rouge Museum and taught museum studies in the School of Library and Information Sciences at Louisiana State University. In particular, the Homewood staff's current focus on expanding historical representations of the enslaved people who labored there was a perfect fit for her professional background — as well as what she hopes to offer the Hopkins community and the public.

"Mrs. Bolton's gift creates a sustainable future to use the museum as a learning laboratory for research and real-world experience through preservation, exhibitions, education, and community engagement, and the interpretation of primary source-based history," Rose says.

Bolton, who first met Rose during her interview process, lauds these efforts and the new director's ideas for expanding the museum's audiences by delving into more diverse parts of its history. And she's hopeful that others will step forward to help fully endow Rose's position — because who knows when another Aurelia Bolton may walk by Homewood, peer into a window, and find a life's inspiration.

"I still get excited about seeing Homewood Museum," Bolton says. "I've traveled all over the country to historic house museums, and I think Homewood is the most elegant, beautiful house in the country."

To learn more about Homewood Museum or to make a gift to support the directorship/curatorship endowment, please contact Liz Courtemanche, Associate Director of Development, Sheridan Libraries and University Museums.