I’m a collector. I collect antique furniture, and old watches and just recently started collecting cigar cutters. I have an extensive silver collection, mostly 18th and early 19th century pieces, the Essex tea service, for example. I also collect art work by two Georgia folk artists, Henry Gorham and Floria Yancey as well as paintings by several local artists. In the sitting room I have two paintings by a Cuban artist who studied in Spain, unhealthy Dora Piñon. I bought my first Piñon before she was “discovered,” and the second painting was considerably more expensive, so she may soon be beyond my price range.
I enjoy living with things that have a history, like that tall, wood box from a French chateaux that is in my kitchen. I bought it at auction just a few years ago and yet two hundred years ago somebody was carrying baguettes in that box. The coffee table in the sitting room has a more personal sense of history for me because it is made from wood planks from a lumber mill where my grandfather worked.
The old 2-plank pine table in the kitchen was reportedly from the High School in Plains, order Jimmy Carter’s hometown, and the pine breakfront was the first antique I bought. I was 19 years old and delivering furniture when I traveled with the store owner to Atlanta and spent $1,000 on a piece of furniture!
The four-poster bed in the guest room belonged to a Civil War veteran, Captain Anderson from Pulaski County. The back of the headboard has his name and address in pencil along with the county in New York where it was shipped from before the Civil War. The chest is from the same estate. Both were sold at auction when his last remaining family, two spinster sisters, died. A Florida investor bought the plantation but put the entire contents of the household up for auction.
The McKenney-Hall prints in the living room that I have collected are of Seminoles and Cherokees, but more than 100 portraits like these were painted between 1821 and 1842 of Indian chiefs and elders that came to Washington to negotiate treaties during the tenure of Thomas McKenney. As Superintendent of the War Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs for 16 years, McKenney commissioned Charles Bird King to paint the portraits that hung in the gallery there. Although the originals were removed to the Smithsonian where they were all destroyed in a fire in 1865, hand-colored lithographs were made earlier by Edward C. Biddle, a Philadelphia printer. The three-volume Portfolio titled The Indian Tribes of North America with Biographical Sketches and Anecdotes of the Principal Chiefs was first published in 1836 preserving what historians consider important Americana. James Hall wrote the text for the Portfolio based on McKenney’s research, which is why it is referred to as the McKenney-Hall Collection.
Although interior design is what I live and breathe, I’d do landscape design too if I could. I designed the courtyard here, picked all the plants and where they would go. I have a landscaper maintain it, but the other day I came out here and clipped all my boxwoods just for a little stress management. It’s so quiet out here that I used to have coffee out here in the morning, but I’m too busy now: I don’t have much down time. I’m probably in Atlanta at least once a month and then there are the auctions in Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. But I do still come out here to relax.