Report from APT-PTN Charleston 2012

Aiken-Rhett House c.1820. Exterior restored to 1858 appearance.

Aiken-Rhett House c.1820. Exterior restored to 1858 appearance.

A small contingent of APT Australasia Chapter members joined over 500 other delegates from around the world at the APT annual conference, held in October 2012 in Charleston, South Carolina. This year, APT collaborated with the Preservation Trades Network (PTN) by hosting the conference alongside the 16th annual International Preservation Trades Workshop.

Examples of the replication of the 1850s faux finish on the verandah shutters at Aiken-Rhett.

Examples of the replication of the 1850s faux finish on the verandah shutters at Aiken-Rhett.

Stephanie Franks (with badger softener in hand) demonstrating oak graining at the Aiken-Rhett house during the workshop on Historic Decorative Finishes.

Stephanie Franks (with badger softener in hand) demonstrating oak graining at the Aiken-Rhett house during the workshop on Historic Decorative Finishes.

Many superlatives could be applied to the experience and most who attended from afar will harbour warm memories of the wonderful southern hospitality and professional excellence that was evident in every aspect of the conference —the presentations, papers, workshops, demonstrations and social activities were all outstanding. A few highlights included the following:

  • The two keynote speakers were Gerard Lynch, recognised internationally as the leading brick masonry expert, and Joseph P Riley Jr, the mayor of Charleston and a living treasure of the conservation movement. In the 30 years Joseph P Riley Jr has been the mayor of Charleston, the city has become recognised as a showcase of exemplary preservation and tourism — it was also the first city in USA to have a tourism management plan.
  • Papers, workshops and field sessions of the highest calibre were presented. One of the features of the annual APT conference is the opportunity attendees have of visiting places rarely seen by the public and observing experts at work. Frank Lloyd Wright’s only southern plantation ‘Auldbrass’ and the Aiken-Rhett House in Charleston were two examples. The accompanying images convey some of the wonderful opportunities APT Australasia Chapter members enjoyed in Charleston.
  • This year, because of the conference collaboration, PTN members demonstrated many of the skills and trades that preservationists from less well-developed places can only dream about. These included demonstrations of blacksmithing, and stone and plasterwork, including ‘tabby’ production.
  • Plans for the next conference in New York were also unveiled. Members would be well advised to book early for that conference, which will also be undoubtedly memorable.
Frank Llloyd Wright’s only southern plantation house, Auldbrass. $30 million has been spent on conservation works by the current owner.

Frank Llloyd Wright’s only southern plantation house, Auldbrass. $30 million has been spent on conservation works by the current owner.

The spa and pool with the main house in the background at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Auldbrass — every vertical surface is set at an angle of 9 degrees to mimic the organic values of the treed site and the pentagon shape, shown here in the pool areas is repeated on the floors and other details throughout the many buildings.

The spa and pool with the main house in the background at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Auldbrass — every vertical surface is set at an angle of 9 degrees to mimic the organic values of the treed site and the pentagon shape, shown here in the pool areas is repeated on the floors and other details throughout the many buildings.

Our own chapter was not completely overshadowed by these highlights.

  • The Martin Weaver Scholarship was awarded this year to Myengsoo Soo, our third APT Australasia Chapter member from Korea. Sixteen students from Northern and Latin American also received scholarships to attend the conference.
  • Chapter convenor, Donald Ellsmore was inducted to the College of Fellows in recognition of his contribution to APT over thirty years.
Drayton Hall, 1748 — which featured in field excursions, papers and a workshop.

Drayton Hall, 1748 — which featured in field excursions, papers and a workshop.

Drayton Hall contains the oldest authentic interiors in USA, including 1748 ceiling plaster and 18th Century paint finishes, having only been painted twice.

Drayton Hall contains the oldest authentic interiors in USA, including 1748 ceiling plaster and 18th Century paint finishes, having only been painted twice.

Of course nothing comes without strings attached. Our list of must-dos has grown as a result of the continuing success of APT and the annual conference. We must:

  • Endeavour to encourage more of our students to apply for student scholarships and work to support them with some financial assistance at least with their travel expenses (the only outlay they would incur if successful)
  • Plan a ‘tour down under’ for North American-based APT members, to be possibly held in the autumn of 2014.

Members wishing to post a question or obtain first-hand reports of the conference should email the convenor

Donald Ellsmore FAPT
Convenor
APT Australasia Chapter

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