May 23, 2005
Nebraska couple endows new gallery housing Carolina Room at CW's Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum
Rex and Pat Lucke of Elkhorn, Neb., have given $500,000 to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation to endow the Rex and Pat Lucke Gallery in the relocated Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, which currently is under construction. The gallery will house the famous Carolina Room that is being moved with the museum. The new Folk Art Museum will open in October 2006 adjacent to Colonial Williamsburg’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. The Luckes also have given an additional $100,000 to help fund the museum’s relocation.
The Carolina Room in the Lucke Gallery will display the original painted walls, moldings, fireplace surround, doors and windows from the parlor of Colonel Alexander Shaw (1788-1863) and Sarah McIntosh Shaw (1802-1883), whose house was built near Wagram in Scotland County, N.C., circa 1820. Woodwork was removed from the Shaw house around 1930 and the house itself was razed in the 1940s. The interior passed through the hands of several antiques dealers before coming to the attention of Colonial Williamsburg in the mid-1950s, when the original Folk Art Museum was planned and built across the street from the Williamsburg Lodge.
“The room’s interior is extraordinary not only for the exuberance of its paint decoration and the diversity of faux finishes but also because the artist signed and dated his work over the main entry door,” said Barbara Luck, curator of paintings and sculpture. “This is most unusual.”
The Carolina Room was painted in 1836 by an itinerant artist named I. (or possibly J.) Scott, about whom little is known. Scott may have been from New York; his over-mantel depiction of “Vue of New York” clearly shows New York’s waterfront in flames. Fires plagued the city in the 1700s and 1800s, and one raged there in December 1835, about a year before the room’s interior was painted.
The Luckes are long-standing Colonial Williamsburg donors and recently funded new upholstery and curtains for the Governor’s Palace. They were inspired to make their latest gift by their mutual interest in folk art.
The couple belongs to the Raleigh Tavern Society, Colonial Williamsburg’s top donor society for individuals making an annual gift of $5,000 of more.
“The Carolina Room is a folk art treasure,” said Mr. Lucke. “We are pleased to be able to endow its gallery in the new museum, making it available for enjoyment by all Colonial Williamsburg visitors.”
“This generous gift from Rex and Pat will enable Colonial Williamsburg to once again feature the painted and decorated walls of the Carolina Room,” said Ronald L. Hurst, Carlisle H. Humelsine chief curator and vice president of Colonial Williamsburg’s museums and collections. “We are extremely grateful for their generous support of the foundation and this remarkable cultural resource.”
The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum is part of the award-winning Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and the first U.S. institution devoted exclusively to collecting, exhibiting and researching American folk art. Currently closed for relocation, the museum will reopen in October 2006 with 11 exciting new displays from the Colonial Williamsburg collection. Admission to the Museums of Colonial Williamsburg is included in any multi-day admission ticket or by one-day or annual museums ticket. For program information, call (757) 220-7724.