The Colonial Dames of America Celebrates 125 Years
Fundraiser Benefits Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden
by Sharri Whiting De Masi and Sharon Vaino
New Colonial Dames of America Website
The Colonial Dames of America is celebrating its 125th Anniversary in 2015. Founded in New York in May 1890 by Mrs. John King Van Rensselaer, the CDA (or “Society”) is the oldest women’s lineage society focusing on the Colonial period. A new website, www.cda1890.org, was launched in January 2015 to mark the anniversary year. The domain name ties in with the International Newsletter of The Colonial Dames of America, CDA1890, which was introduced in 2013.
The new site opens with the fascinating history of the CDA, and outlines many historic preservation projects its chapters have supported over the past 125 years—from the Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome, to the Hampton National Historic Site in Towson, MD, to the Camron-Stanford House in Oakland, CA.
CDA was delighted to receive permission from Ambassador J. William Middendorf II and his daughter, Frances Middendorf (Chapter X – Rome, Italy) to include on its site the important Thomas Sully portrait of the Alexander family (1851), ancestors of the Middendorfs. Frances and her father, both visual artists, have an annual show together. In winter 2015 their work was exhibited at The Barn @ Downing Yudain LLC in historic Long Ridge Village in North Stamford, CT.
Marking the Society's 125th Anniversary
Events observing the 125th Anniversary in 2015 include the Annual Meeting in New York in May and commemorations by chapters in the United States and Europe. During the 2015 Heritage Week in Washington, DC, the CDA will host an invitational National Tea at an elegant private club. Charlotte Christian, member of the CDA Board of Managers and Chapter XXIV—Atlanta, is chair of this event.
In honor of its founder and 125th Anniversary, the Society has initiated three new designations for service and donor generosity. With approval of the Society’s Board of Managers, any chapter may designate one member per year to receive The Maria K. Van Rensselaer Award for Distinguished Service in recognition for service to her chapter, to the Society and to her community. The 1890 Society will recognize any contribution of at least $1890 in any given fiscal year to the CDA and/or the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden, which is owned and operated by the CDA. The Chapter Honor Roll will recognize contributions to the museum by the chapters.
Fall Benefit for the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden
The CDA held a Fall Benefit for the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden, marking the 75th Anniversary of the opening of the museum to the public, at the CDA’s Abigail Adams Smith Auditorium in New York City. The Benefit, entitled “The Havemeyer Legacy,” featured the notable contributions of the Havemeyer family to the arts. Family member and Honorary Chair Eugenie A. Havemeyer, a longtime member of the Parent Chapter of the Society, was joined by her husband Harry and many other family members on this social occasion. The highlight of the evening was a fascinating lecture by Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, curator of American Decorative Arts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and a member of the Havemeyer family. Ms. Frelinghuysen, who curated a special exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on the Havemeyer art treasures and authored the accompanying book, brought her projected images to life for an enthusiastic audience. Both Mrs. Havemeyer and Ms. Frelinghuysen were given distinctive hand-painted bowls from Deruta, Italy.
President General Sharon Vaino hosted an afternoon tea at a private club for the Event’s most generous benefactors. Supporters of the fundraiser also included Past President General Helen Evans (Parent Chapter) and Jacqueline Ober (Chapter I—Baltimore, MD), who co-chair the Development Committee; Mrs. Evans also chairs the Museum Committee. Museum Director Terri Daly and CDA Executive Director Allison Coliskey and their staffs were also key to the Benefit’s success.
Continuing the practice of participation by New York City officials in the Benefit, dynamic City Council Member Ben Kallos attended and honored the Society with a proclamation which he presented to President General Sharon Vaino. An exciting auction conducted by Charity Auctioneer C. K. Swett included alluring journeys to Italy, to Chicago, and to Newport, with proceeds benefiting the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden.
Above: The Board of Managers of The Colonial Dames of America at the Fall Fundraiser benefitting the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden, New York, (l-r) Beverley Young, Mary Barnes, Catherine Brawer, Beverley Sherrid, Sharon Vaino, Brantley Knowles, Margaret Ivancevich, Kathleen Elizabeth Springhorn, Jane Told, and M.P. Naud.
President General Sharon Vaino (center) with CDA Fall Fundraiser Co-chairs Mary Barnes (left) and Beverley Sherrid
(l-r) Linden Havemeyer Wise, Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, and Harry Havemeyer at the Fall Fundraiser benefitting the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden.
Ambassador J. William Middendorf II and his daughter, Frances Middendorf, at the opening of their shared show at The Barn @ Downing Yudain LLC in historic Long Ridge Village in North Stamford, Connecticut.
Members of the Havemeyer extended family attending the Fall Fundraiser to benefit the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden are, seated (l-r): D. Scott Wise, Linden Havemeyer Wise, Eugenie A. Havemeyer, Antoinette Pearman; Standing (l-r): Harry Havemeyer, Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, William E. Havemeyer, Jane Havemeyer and George Frelinghuysen.
Not pictured: Julia Thieriot.
Preview of L'Hermione in Bordeaux, France
A special preview of L’Hermione, the re-creation of the frigate on which the Marquis de Lafayette sailed when he joined the American Revolution, was organized in Bordeaux, France by CDA Chapter IV – Paris, which has generously supported L’Hermione. Chapter IV President Mary Sargent (didi) Ladd d’Anglejan and her tireless committee organized this Fall weekend preview, which allowed Chapter members and their guests to attend a private breakfast and tour on board this perfect replica of the original ship. Dames from Paris, Washington, DC, and Rome were among the group, which also enjoyed a wine dinner at Cheval Blanc in St. Emilion. L’Hermione sails to the United States in 2015.
Holiday Tea Dance Held at the Abigail Adams Smith Auditorium
Left: At a private CDA breakfast aboard L’Hermione in Bordeaux, France, (l-r), Chapter IV—Paris President Mary Sargent (didi) Ladd d’Anglejan; Laura Belman of Chapter III—Washington DC; Sabette de Lyrot, Chapter IV—Paris; Eugenie Angles, Chapter IV—Paris; and Sharri Whiting De Masi, Chapter X – Rome, Italy.
PIERO DE MASI
In early December, the Holiday Tea Dance was held at the Abigail Adams Smith Auditorium to launch the festive season. Kathleen Elizabeth Springhorn (Parent Chapter), Chair of the Events, Calendar and Hospitality Committee, contributed her impeccable elegance and style to this always anticipated annual event.
Accomplishments During President General Sharon Vaino’s Term of Office
President General Sharon Vaino’s term of office marked the first time a CDA President General visited what are now a total of 36 chapters of the Society plus the Parent Chapter, from New York to California, Michigan to Mississippi, and Rome to Paris to London. Other firsts accomplished during Sharon’s administration included the establishment of a Parent Chapter Fellowship Committee at the initiative of First Vice President General Beverley Sherrid (Parent Chapter), who also introduced new eligible ancestors as Chair of the Claims Committee.
The first Council of Proprietors of the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden, allowing members of the chapters to have a direct relationship with the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden, was established at the initiative of Second Vice President General Brantley Knowles (Chapter XVII—Palm Beach, FL). As Chair of the Liaison Committee, Mrs. Knowles organized popular and informative Regional Meetings around the United States, and anticipates such a meeting in Europe.
Other accomplishments during Sharon’s term of office include the development of an electronic newsletter, CDA1890, edited by Communications Chair Sharri Whiting De Masi (Chapter X – Rome, Italy); and the development and launch of a new website, with project management and research by Sharri Whiting De Masi and Beverley Sherrid. The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden was re-accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, one of a small percentage of museums in the country to achieve this designation. Energetic new Museum Director Terri Daly, whose experience with the Museum began in 2003, has vigorously taken on the challenges of preserving the eighth-oldest building in Manhattan and interpreting it to today’s generation. An additional eight CDA committees were established to provide an increased depth of information, services and support to the chapters and membership.
Long-established programs, such as those of the Book Award Committee, chaired by Past President General Audrey Svensson (Parent Chapter), and the Education and Scholarship Committee, chaired by Anne Farley (Parent Chapter), as well as the President’s Award for Excellence, continue to be important activities of the Society.
As The Colonial Dames of America begins its second 125 years, we look forward to illuminating the path of the future with the light of history.
For more information on The Colonial Dames of America, please visit the CDA’s website at www.cda1890.org.
The Abigail Adams Smith Auditorium and the offices of The Colonial Dames of America are at 417 East 61st Street, New York, NY 10065, Tel.: (212) 838-5489. The venue is available for private and corporate events,including receptions and dinners.
The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden is at 421 East 61st Street, New York, NY 10065. Tel.: (212) 838-6878. Rentals are available consistent with the property’s historic status. The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden’s website is www.mvhm.org.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Eugenie A. Havemeyer, Honorary Benefit Chair; Beverley Sherrid, CDA First Vice President and Benefit Co-chair; Brantley Knowles, CDA Second Vice President; Mary R. Barnes, CDA Board of Managers and Benefit Co-chair; and Terri Daly, Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden Director.
Harry Havenmeyer and program speaker Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen at the Fall Fundraiser benefitting the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden.
Eugenie A. Havemeyer (left) and Antoinette Pearman at the Fall Fundraiser benefitting the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden in New York.
(l-r) The Rev. Gerald E. Murray, who purchased the first auction item, Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Jaan Vaino, Sharon Vaino, Mary Barnes, and Kathleen Elizabeth Springhorn at the Fall Fundraiser in New York.
President General Sharon Vaino receives a Proclamation honoring the CDA from New York City Council Member Ben Kallos at the Fall Fundraiser benefitting the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden.
About the Authors
Sharon Worthing Vaino is an attorney and is President General of The Colonial Dames of America, based in New York, NY, where she lives with her husband Jaan, retired from the broadcasting industry. She has visited all 37 chapters (including the Parent Chapter) of The Colonial Dames of America, from Rome, Italy, to San Francisco, CA, and oversaw the recent re-accreditation of the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden and the establishment of eight new CDA committees. Sharon also serves as a board and committee member for other not-for-profit organizations.
Sharri Whiting De Masi is a writer/speaker (travel, food/wine, culture) and olive farmer in Umbria, Italy, where she lives with her husband, Piero De Masi, an author and retired diplomat; she is President, CDA Chapter X—Rome, Italy, as well as Proprietor—Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden (for Chapter X) and Chair of the CDA Communications Committee. Sharri and Piero spend winters in Fairhope, AL, where they support the Mobile Ballet and World Affairs Roundtable.