Make your mark in history by supporting the restoration of a Delaware treasure.
This astonishing miniature of the Archibald Alexander House in Old New Castle, made by its former owners, requires attention from experts so that audiences can learn from it for years to come.
Our $4,000 goal for community support will play a critical role in making this costly project possible.
You can read more below about the miniature’s special connection to the Read House & Gardens and what it will take to bring it back to life. Like the Read House, it gives us an opportunity to examine how our predecessors viewed the past and how those ideas are in direct conversation with the way we address history in the present.
In the mid-1970s, two longtime owners of New Castle’s Archibald Alexander House at 28 E. 3rd Street, Mr. and Mrs. F. Lytton and Betty Lee Patterson (Lyt and Betty Lee), created a miniature replica of their home. They styled it as they imagined it might have appeared 200 years earlier.
As community leaders, artists, and citizen historians, the Pattersons were in direct conversation with the work begun by Philip and Lydia Laird at the Read House in the 1920s. They documented and staged their home by modeling it in miniature. Much like the Read House, the miniature at once embodies both precision and whimsy. The resulting work illustrates the ways in which the Pattersons envisioned the historic value of their home and town.
Lyt built the structure to scale based on the layout of the house in the 1970s, as well as on historical documents. The furnishings were curated by Betty Lee, each piece carefully crafted from high-end materials by renowned miniaturists, in the style of the eighteenth century.
Like the Lairds, the Pattersons were grounded in their own present but were inspired by the stories of owners before them. Whether rotating the seasonal adornments in the Archibald Alexander miniature or styling the Read House for magazine shoots, the Pattersons and Lairds set a stage for their historical actors. Viewers supplied the story. By unraveling the intentions and nostalgia that guided makers and viewers alike, we can better understand how a historic house became the inspiration for contemporary design.
After showcasing the miniature in their dining room for years, they gifted it to the Delaware Historical Society in the 1990s. We’re now pleased to invite you to join us in rediscovering this local treasure, which is temporarily on view at the Read House in its unrestored state.
HOW IT WILL HAPPEN:
Artifact conservators and restoration experts are painstakingly precise when preserving important treasures like this one. They use ultra-fine tools and non-corrosive materials to ensure that their repairs are both long-lasting and ethical. As the steward of the Archibald Alexander House miniature, the Delaware Historical Society promises to engage partners in the restoration of this piece and to offer opportunities for our communities to learn from it. However, the expertise, tools, and materials will be costly.
Please consider contributing to the Archibald Alexander Miniature Restoration Fund.
Without preservation, we cannot promise that the stories of the past will be interpreted so thoughtfully in the future. Your gift will ensure future generations an opportunity to examine how our predecessors viewed the past and how those ideas are in direct conversation with the way we address history in the present.