We are very excited to be rolling out our new additions to the William Brown House to provide a more immersive visitor experience. Improved signage provides more information about the individuals who lived here, and the things that were important to them. Recently acquired objects give visitors a chance to engage with the 18th century in new ways.
William Brown House (from the perspective of the South River)
Even when considering the same room, the same document, the same object: they can all tell different stories if you look at them from different perspectives. This is a house full of stories. It isn't just the story of William Brown, but the story of all the people who lived, worked, and travelled through here. Each of those people experienced the house in a different way. As visitors explore some of the new objects, they will be invited to think about what those objects could mean to different people.
For free, white, male paying visitors to the tavern, an English Delft earthenware bowl full of punch might have represented a chance to sit around with friends and business associates to drink and enjoy themselves. For the free white woman who likely ran the tavern (William's wife Susannah), it might represent disappointment at not having more fashionable porcelain punch bowls. For the enslaved black woman (Sall) working down in the kitchen, it would have been just another pot to scrub, one in a huge pile of other dishes to be done. Each of these people has their own story to tell.
We hope to bring some new perspectives to light with our reinterpretation. The lives of the enslaved people of London Town are often neglected in favor of the lives of literate, wealthy individuals who left accounts, wills, deeds, court cases, and letters behind. In neglecting the stories of enslaved people, we are neglecting the experiences of well over half of the population around London Town at the time of the American Revolution. Further exploring what their lives and experiences were like in this building and around town has been a major focus of our work.