Friday, October 7, 2011


Whilst readying the Chanel mannequins for the upcoming Trunk Show at the department store where I work in Display, I  'came out' of the miniaturist closet to Patric & Susan, co-workers at the aforementioned emporium.

Our store is in the process of phasing-out the 'ye-olde'  accoutrements of yesteryear --namely : cash registers!  It's all changing over to I-Pads, darlings, who carries cash, nowadays?  Anyway, I just happened to casually mention that I was building a dollhouse and was blogging about its progress and in a whirl the I-Pad was produced and the next thing I knew my blog, Merriman Park, was staring us in the face.

I think it's safe to say that Patric is perhaps even more Obsessive-Compulsive Disordered  than yours truly --he collects decorative carrot objets, for god's sake!  (I'm not judging, I'm just saying)!  He peppered me with a barrage of questions:  "what year was Merriman Park built?  Oh, that was during slavery days--how many slaves are indentured to Merriman Park?  What? Oh, no, Merriman Park is most-definitely not a Newport residence, if its not Virginia, it's South Carolina...."

All this forced me to decide, once and for all,  Merriman Park's history.  I guess I've harbored pretensions that Merriman Park was a European residence, but Patric's grilling of me made me realize that it  is undoubtedly and unabashedly American.  I mean, the architecture of  Thomas Jefferson inspired it!  And Thomas Jefferson was from Virginia and the houses that I modeled Merriman Park after, Edgemont and  Bremo are both located in Virginia.  So that means if I accept the idea that Merriman Park is an antebellum Southern house, there were most definitely slaves afoot.

I'm having a hard time adjusting to this reality!

Am I making too much of a big deal over this?  I'm not one of those 'politically-correct' types, but it does make me think a little about my 'hero,' Thomas Jefferson, who wrote so eloquently that 'all men were created equal'  --except, I guess --his chattel!  


Simon said...[Reply]

Hi John, There is no such thing as the perfect human being and often we discover things about those we place on high pedestals which make us question not only their conduct but our own motives. This in itself can only be a good thing. After all, it is the power to have such thoughts and the ability to do so that distinguishes the great from the good. I bet if you looked hard enough you could find something unpleasant about everyone. That's not to belittle the subject but put it into perspective. By merely acknowledging the past you have displayed your own compassion and morality, and that should be enough for anyone. You have to remember all the people at the time of slavery who faught against it (William Wilberforce to name a British exponent for example - my history doesn't extend to your land I'm ashamed to say). Merriman Park is a monument to all these things, you can't fully appreciate the good until you acknowledge the bad.
Keep your chin up and consider what you would have done had you been there when Merriman Park was built. Perhaps your's would have been one of the few, but one none the less, that cared for the wellbeing of those employed in it's creation.

John said...[Reply]

Thanks, Simon! Very astute ( and true)! Some more things to ponder as I clean out the garage today...

I'm glad you were able to access this post --I forgot to log off last night, maybe that's why you couldn't get to it?

LOL, yes, I see my photo 'magically reappeared' again! I had tried to change it a while back and only managed to lock myself out! I'll have to try again, someday. (Not very tech-savvy, here)!

Andy said...[Reply]

Hi John, I agree with everything Simon says there. Very wise words indeed! It is impossible to change the history of the world, but to reflect on that history and learn from it makes us all wiser, and find ways to make the world a better place for everyone in some small way!

Even if your house had an 18th/19th century English heritage, it's bricks would be tainted by exploitation and greed. The land owners were often wealthy because they had 'enclosed' the common land, and fields of strip farming, forcing many land workers and smallholders into the new factories of our industrial revolution and insanitary slum dwellings. there's usually a price to pay somewhere for luxury!

Anyway, to return to more cheerful subjects, I really do love Merriman Park, it's truely stunning. How have you acheived the brick and stone effects so realistically?

John said...[Reply]

Thanks, Andy! I agree, on to happier subjects!

I hand-painted the stone: first a base coat, then lots of dabbing of several colors, then I marked out the stones in pencil, then I used masking tape and worked on individual stones until I was happy with the results. I finished it off by spritzing lightly with 'textured spray paint' from a can.

I posted a 'tutorial' on the bricks, last winter. It was quite the ordeal! Here's the link to my brick technique:

Thanks for the kind words, Andy!

Giac said...[Reply]

Hi john,
First of all, this is your house, there is no rule that says you have to be 100% period appropriate.I studied many book on victorianna, and while I'm trying to be period appropriateish, in the end what I say goes.
Keep in mind that you are not reproducing an existing house, this house is what you want it to be. It is a reflection of you: Your likes, dislikes, interests, obsessions... If you worry to much about about how authentic the house is you won't give it the John quality that we all love. If something bothers you that much I think it's nuts to incorporate it. Remember, even though a house technically belongs in one state, that doesn't mean that it can't be present somewhere else...the rich used to love to travel and copy what they saw...jefferson himself was all about re-interpretation of neoclassical art...He took a style and gave it his touch.
Just don't take the fun or any of the love of your project out of Merriman Pak...miniatures are supposed to be a perfect world! Our escape from the every day.

John said...[Reply]

Thanks, Giac! Well said and exactly what I needed to hear.

Karin Corbin said...[Reply]

Don't get your knickers in a twist!

Share cropping was a much more common practice than owning slaves but it does not attract nearly as much attention in history books or novels.

Fi.P said...[Reply]

Hi John,

I agree with all said above and what I think is most important, is that you have opened it for discussion. We are all linked through our ancestors to to parts of history the whole world has learnt from.

And as Giac said, this is your house which is also a reflection of you and the person you are. My most favourite photo of yours is the Valentines day pic of the two chaps at the front holding a valentines day I'm sure that didn't happen in Thomas Jeffersons house ( at least not in the open ) so enjoy your house in the period you set it in and make the moral improvements you would have like to have seen. Mini Hugs, Fi

Fi.P said...[Reply]

Hi John,

I just wrote a very long winded response to your post. Yet again I tried posting and it must be floating out in cyber space cause it aint here!

In short I agree with all of the above, your house is yours to create the setting of your dreams. It dosent have to represent things you don't support.

Merriman Park is a beautiful place and it's yours to keep that way.

Mini hugs, Fi

Irene said...[Reply]

I'm with Giac on this one. It's useful to have some sort of background detail, especially when it comes to the accessorising of the property but it would be too easy to get sucked into the minutia. Just take the bits of research that suit you - I do! It's your house, your world - whatever you decide, goes. The best thing is to enjoy!

John said...[Reply]

Thanks Karin! You always have just the right thing to say!

Pedrete said...[Reply]

Hola John!!
Como bien ha dicho Giac, nuestras casas de muñecas son en muchos casos una vía de escape a nuestros problemas reales. No creo que merezca la pena devanarse los sesos pensando en como era realmente la vida en otras épocas, siempre han existidos buenos y malos tiempos, buenas y malas personas, los rosales tienen espinas y no por eso vamos a despreciar el aroma de las rosas... Tu casa es una preciosidad esté hubicada en la época que esté, y ocurriera en aquella época lo que ocurriera. Hoy también existen injusticias en el mundo y no por eso vamos a renegar de nuestro tiempo!! El último trabajo que he realizado está inspirado en el estilo de un diseñador acusado de antisemitismo y xenofobia, y en el mundo del toreo, una fiesta en la que se tortura a un animal hasta darle muerte... dicho así suena aterrador, pero yo he sabido quedarme solo con lo que me interesa, con lo bello que hay en ambas cosas. Así es la vida siempre, todo tiene su cara y su cruz. Espero que google traslator sepa traducir mis palabras... ¡¡Un abrazo enorme y enhorabuena por toda esa sensibilidad que pones en todo lo que haces!!

John said...[Reply]

Thank you, Fiona and Irene! Of course you are both right, and I appreciate your input.

I'm so glad you liked my Valentine's Day photo, Fiona! I liked that shot, too, and kept it as my phone wallpaper for the longest time.

John said...[Reply]

Hola Pedrete! Muchas gracias por sus comentarios. Estás en lo cierto, por supuesto! He oído decir que usted se encuentra en Chicago para el gran espectáculo! Le deseo mucho éxito! Ojalá hubiera sabido de la serie, que habría sido maravilloso conocerte en persona! ¡Mucha suerte y un gran abrazo, - John

Fi.P said...[Reply]

I am such a blogger noob....I see I have double posted!!! I guess I just need to be patient.

I'm interested in the clip you left on Thomas jefferson, was that a mini series or a movie?

John said...[Reply]

Hi, Fiona!

It was an HBO mini-series.

cassandra ludwig-malone toth said...[Reply]

Yes, yes, yes, I think you should create your OWN story for Merriman Park as if it were from that time.
It is simply history and I can speak because my town of Facetious is placed vaguely on the border of the Mason-Dixon line just after the Civil War. Some of the homes residents and relatives were on BOTH sides.
I myself am half black so I can do as I please I please to be interested in all aspects. I have even traced the history to the present day (not in as great a detail as it should be) of some of the families of Facetious.

The great (and alas will never be built for lack of space) Trifle Hall survives the Civil War after being occupied by the Blue & the Gray and becomes an historic home and eminent ART School in the modern time. It is established by the unmarried son of the original builder.

I think you should go ALL out and trace the history of Merriman Park from it's inception through today!

Man oh man, I wish I could build Trifle Hall! Merriman Park is something like it might have been, really grand!

And since slaves did so much of the building of many grand southern homes why not salute them and say the slaves had a hand in it? I recall in New Orleans that there were special guilds of plasterers who were so expert we have trouble reproducing what they did today?

Have you ever seen "Feast of All Saints" made in 2001? A work of art it is and the cabinet maker Jean-Jacque speaks so well to the young Marcel about making things.