What if you had the opportunity to unlock the hidden stories of historic artifacts in the collections of the Historic Odessa Foundation? You’re about to get a front row seat on a journey through time as we navigate the captivating tales of the Corbett and Wilson family collections, objects that have witnessed history unfold, from the 1770s to later generations. Executive Director of the Historic Odessa Foundation, Debbie Buxton, and author Dr. Philip Zimmerman, join us to share the rich history and intriguing stories woven into the fabric of their new book, “A Storied Past Collections of Historic Odessa.”
A Storied Past: Collections of the Historic Odessa captures the historical character and significance of two important late-18th-century houses, each of which retains a high percentage of original furnishings and locally made objects. Over the past several years, the collections have undergone careful examination and interpretation. One hundred are published along with four interpretive chapters. Relatively few historic sites have received this level of investigative treatment. Additionally, several of the hitherto-unpublished objects relate to others already in the decorative and fine arts lexicon. Using rich archival and genealogical sources, Philip D. Zimmerman brings to light here for the first time an extraordinary array of decorative and fine arts from the collections at the Historic Odessa Foundation. This well-documented group of family objects provides an intimate glimpse into the daily life of members of the Corbit and Wilson families in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and also sheds light on the history of Odessa, Delaware, and the larger region. Particularly strong holdings of furniture made by John Janvier and his talented sons and nephew allow informative contrasts with products made in Delaware, Philadelphia, and elsewhere. Needlework and other textiles made by Corbit and Wilson women characterize their handiwork. Other objects tell other stories. Some, labeled by their nineteenth-century owners for posterity, document evolving trends in early collecting and historic preservation. The richly illustrated book includes more than 200 photographs, including many details and historic images, along with careful physical descriptions and historical documentation. Meticulously researched and elegantly written, A Storied Past illuminates a wealth of furnishings, works of art, and artifacts with common provenances and interlocking histories and places them into the artistic, social, and historical contexts of their time.