VSA ALUMNI ASSOCIATION
Dr. William Murtagh passed on Sunday, October 28, 2018 at the age of 95.
Bill served as the third president of the VSA from 1974 to 1980. The following excerpts are from his obituary of October 30, 2018 in The Washington Post, by Harrison Smith.
May it inspire all of us to continue Bill’s legacy of promoting, protecting, and preserving places that matter!
In a more than half-century career, Dr. Murtagh served as a vice president at the National Trust for Historic Preservation; helped establish preservation programs as a professor at Columbia University, the University of Maryland and the University of Hawaii; and wrote what is widely considered the first major textbook in his field, Keeping Time: The History and Theory of Preservation in America, originally published in 1988 and now in its third edition.
Born in Philadelphia in 1923, he received a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania in 1950 and worked under preservationist Charles E. Peterson to help develop Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia. Returning to graduate school at Penn, he received a master’s degree in art history in 1953 and a doctorate in architectural history in 1963. His early interest in Moravian architecture took him to Bethlehem, PA where he directed the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts.
His work there attracted the attention of Richard Hubbard Howland, first president of the National Trust. Dr. Murtagh was hired as Howland’s assistant in 1958 and soon promoted to serve as the organization’s director of education and then of programs. He also sat on a committee that produced “A Report on Principles and Guidelines for Historic Preservation in the United States,” a 1964 document credited with outlining the principles enshrined in the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, which led to the creation of the National Register of Historic Places. Dr. Murtagh was best known for his 13 years as keeper of the National Register.
Dr. Murtagh will be buried near his summer home in Penobscot, Maine. His ties to the area stretch back to the first grant he awarded as keeper of the National Register, which enabled the town of Castine to rescue a historic home. When Dr. Murtagh visited Castine to examine the home, he fell in love with the town and came across a 19th-century schoolhouse, the Abbott School building, that was going to be altered and turned into a garage. To save the structure, Dr. Murtagh bought it, and lived there for about 15 years before moving to a small home in Penobscot. The schoolhouse has since changed hands and now houses the Castine Historical Society. It is listed, naturally, on the National Register of Historic Places.
Related: New York Times obituary
Dr. Murtagh in Penobscot, Maine, in 2013.
C. Dudley Brown (London 1977), a widely known and honored interior designer and historic preservationist, based in Washington DC, and founder of the Victorian Society in America’s Washington chapter, died April 19 at the home of a relative in Nashville TN following a long battle with lung cancer. He was 88 years old.
Known to his many VSA friends for his wit and charm, not to mention his skill at the piano, Dudley was born in Cleveland OH, obtained a bachelor’s degree in interior design at the University of Cincinnati, and expanded his interest in historic preservation with graduate studies at Cornell.
Moving to the Washington area in 1952, Dudley—he never used his first name Clinton—was soon providing much needed help to the U.S. Navy in refurbishing and improving its dreary residential quarters. By 1962 he had established the interior design program of the General Service Administration’s federal supply service, which overseas government housing across the country.
Much in demand, he found himself designing the interiors of the official residences of leading officials, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff as well as the interiors of many historic buildings, including the West Wing of the White House, and the military academies at West Point and Colorado Springs.
Operating his own interior design firm, C. Dudley Brown & Associates, from 1964 to 2014, he traveled widely, overseeing or advising on the restoration of many varied historic sites, including George Washington’s River Farm at Mount Vernon, the Governor’s Mansion in Annapolis MD, and the Samuel Roberts House in Key West FL, a traditional “conch cottage” built by sailors, spongers and fishermen.
During his long association with VSA, he was a man for all seasons. In addition to founding the Washington chapter, he chaired a preservation workshop in Philadelphia in 1973,
served variously as a member of the Decorative Arts Advisory Committee, VSA Secretary and Historian, was a vigorous auctioneer often selling auction items from his clients at the VSA annual meetings, and was on the Board of Directors from 1974 until his death.
“Dudley was a key figure in the history of the Victorian Society and historic preservation,” said John Simonelli, VSA Executive Vice President, “and he will be sorely missed by all who knew him.”
Clipping: Baltimore Sun, Nov. 16. 1958.p.20
Carole Chapman, a loyal participant in many VSA activities, died in her home in Montclair NJ, on May 17 from complications from a brain tumor.
Carole was born in 1940 in Pittsburgh PA. She worked for Westinghouse in Pittsburgh, then moved with the company to Los Angeles, where she met her husband Robert Chapman. After a couple of years, the Chapmans moved East for business reasons, settling first in Manhattan and then in Montclair for the past 40 years. Carole worked for American Scandinavian Bank and its successors in Manhattan for 15 years.
With her husband Bob, she spent many years renovating their historic home in Montclair and in furnishing it through antique shows and sales, yard sales, and lots of hard work. They enjoyed traveling together around the world.
Carole attended the London Summer School in 1999 and the Chicago Summer School in 2014. She was very active in both the VSA and the AA. She and Bob were fixtures on our trips, regularly attending the Annual Meetings and Study Tours of the Alumni Association. Carole was such a gentle soul. Her grace and kindness elevated the quality of every event she attended. Her faithful commitment and devotion to the mission of the Alumni Association and the VSA will be dearly missed, as will the friendship she provided. She is survived by her husband and ten nieces and nephews.
A memorial service was held on June 17 at St. Cassian’s Church in Montclair.
John C. Freed, 87, longtime Victorian Society member and friend of the VSA Summer Schools, died peacefully on May 30, at his home in San Francisco.
John was born on December 29, 1930, in Oklahoma, and lived in Oklahoma City, Paris, Denver, and San Francisco. He was predeceased by his spouse, Paul Duchscherer, another longtime Victorian Society member, author, and historical, architectural, and design consultant.
John assisted his partner as the initial editor on all of the books written by him. These books include The Bungalow, Inside the Bungalow, Outside the Bungalow, Victorian Glory (two editions), Along Bungalow Lines, Beyond the Bungalow, Bungalows (a collection of postcards), and the Pomegranate series of eight books on various bungalow rooms and elements. Paul Duchscherer’s work as a popularizer of both bungalows and Victorian buildings was enhanced by John’s deft editorial hand and contributions.
John graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1952 and a Masters of Fine Arts in 1957. He received a Letzeiser Gold award and was the recipient of two Fulbright fellowships, which allowed him to continue his graduate studies in Paris.
He principally worked in an Abstract Expressionist style. His paintings were widely exhibited in the 1950s. John enjoyed a long retirement following his career at Chevron. Throughout his lifetime, he was an avid reader of literature, biographies, and art history. John accompanied Paul Duchscherer on many Victorian Society alumni trips and thoroughly enjoyed each one of them.
John specified that memorial contributions be made to the Alumni Association in memory of Paul Duchscherer.
The Alumni Association was notified of the recent passing of Sara "Sallie" R. Wadsworth, a longtime member of the Alumni Association, on November 22, 2017.
Sallie was a life member, and President's Award winner, of the VSA and attended the London Summer School in 1991 and the Newport Summer School in 1992. She was very active in both the VSA and the AA regularly attending the Annual Meetings and Study Tours of the VSA.
She was a VSA Board member and long-time Treasurer and donor to the VSA. She also served on the VSA Summer School Committee. Amongh her many other interests were active membership of the Jane Austen Society of North America, and general philanthropy.
Notes of condolence may be sent to Sallie's husband:
Mr. Randolph Wadsworth
4099 Flinn Road,
Brookville, IN 47012
The Alumni Association has received a memorial donation for a Sallie Wadsworth Scholarship Fund. If you wish to make a donation to fund a scholarship to a Summer School in memory of Sallie, checks payable to the Alumni Association can be sent to:
c/o David Lamdin
1515 N Kirkwood Rd
Arlington, VA 22201-5233
Gavin Stamp, historian, writer and broadcaster, died on December 30, 2017, at age 69, following a battle with prostate cancer.
Gavin was the director of the VSA's London Summer School and most recently led the Alumni Association's Study Tour of Northern England and the Lake District in 2014. He played a major part in the success of the VSA London program and will be sorely missed by the many students who had the privilege of studying with him.
Gavin was a leading voice for British architecture, the author of several important architectural history books, and the presenter of British television series including Pevsner's Cities and Gavin Stamp's Orient Express. He studied at Dulwich College in south London, then at Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge, completing a PhD on the career of British architect George Gilbert Scott. After graduating in 1978, he returned to London to establish himself as an architecture historian and spokesperson.
He wrote the “Nooks and Corners” column in politic magazine Private Eye, under the pseudonym Piloti. He also authored a piece in the Spectator in 1985 celebrating the design of telephone boxes by Giles Gilbert Scott, which led to 2,500 of them being given a heritage listing.
He co-founded the Twentieth Century Society (originally called the 1930s Society), was a key figure in the Victorian Society and also worked at the RIBA Drawings Collection, where his contributions included an exhibition about war memorials from the first world war.
In 1990, he was appointed professor of architectural history at the Mackintosh School of Art at the Glasgow School of Art, where he became an influential lecturer. During this period, he lived in a house built by neoclassical architect Alexander "Greek" Thomson – so he established the Greek Thomson Society.
He authored numerous books over his lifetime, including “Edwin Lutyens: Country Houses (2001)”, “Temples of Power: Architecture of Electricity in London (1979)”, “The Memorial to the Missing of the Somme (2006)”, and “Anti-Ugly: Excursions in English Architecture and Design (2013)”.
Several friends of Gavin have inquired about making donations to the AA Scholarship Fund in his memory. Checks payable to the “Alumni Assoc” with the notation that it is “In Memory of Gavin Stamp” can be sent to:
c/o David Lamdin
1515 N Kirkwood Rd
Arlington, VA. 22201-5233
We remember our dear friend and long-time Alumni Association member Paul Duchscherer (Newport, 1991), who died on June 20, 2017 from a brain tumor.
Paul was an active member of Alumni Association of the Victorian Society Summer Schools and many other professional organizations. A San Francisco resident for over forty years, Paul was a gifted interior designer, historian, author, lecturer, and avid preservation proponent with an extensive working knowledge of historic architecture, design, decorative arts, and landscaping.
After graduating from the Rudolph Schaeffer School of Design in 1975, Paul embarked on a remarkable career that spanned designing for the renowned Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers Company to infusing authentic period-style into an array of historic buildings and private residences. Examples of Paul’s work have been widely published in periodicals and books, and he was featured on such television programs as “This Old House” and “Curb Appeal”.
The author of major publications, Paul was also an accomplished singer and pianist. He recorded a beautiful compilation of his favorite pieces from the American songbook, and at the end of his life he was working on a compilation of his favorites titled “Love Paul” that will be available in 2018.
Recently, he embarked on a family memoir detailing the veritable Eloise-like, but not like Eloise, childhood experiences he enjoyed as the son of a hotel executive. One amusing newspaper article of which Paul was particularly fond, “Family Home in a Posh Hotel,” appeared in the 6 June 1965 San Francisco Chronicle. In it, the family’s life in their seven-room Hilton Hotel suite is described and a conversation with a rather precocious 13 year old Paul is recorded.
Paul’s true sense of home remained centered in two locations: San Francisco and Buffalo, New York, where his father’s family settled in the mid-19th century. He retained an abiding affection for Buffalo and cherished halcyon memories of the family’s summer cottage on nearby Grand Island. Paul always looked forward to “going home” each year for the Arts & Crafts lectures and workshops he led at the Roycroft Inn, the famed Elbert Hubbard complex in East Aurora. It seems appropriate that Paul will be laid to rest at his family plot in Buffalo’s historic, gracious, beautifully landscaped, and art-filled Forest Lawn Cemetery.
A Memorial Service in celebration of Paul's life and talents with over 200 of his family and friends was held in the San Francisco area on October 7. The courage, optimism and fortitude he displayed throughout his last six months proved an inspiration and comfort to all. Paul is survived by his husband, John Freed, his business partner and long-term friend Don Merrill, and a legion of friends.
The Alumni Association acknowledges the very generous bequest that Paul left for future scholarship as well as the many memorial scholarships donations.
Gwendolyn Eades Koch passed away Friday, October 17, 2014, at her home in Evansville, IN. She was aged 93.
Gwen was a traveler, people lover, book collector food critic, musician and architecture educator/preservationist. During World War II, she counted rivets and bolts in Evansville and traveled the country singing to the troops. After attending The Julliard School in New York, she taught music at the University of Evansville. She received a second masters in Humanities from the University of Evansville focusing on the Victorian era. She restored a number of homes in downtown Evansville, and received the Historic Preservation award from the City of Evansville in 2002.
Gwen was an active board member of Victorian Society in America for many years, and helped found the Society’s Summer Schools 40 years ago. Active to the end, she attended her last Victorian Society of America meeting in Chicago three weeks before her death.
She was presented the Victorian Society in America’s President’s Award by Bruce Davies in Mobile, AL "For her long-time love and support of the Society, especially her warm and endearing dedication to its Summer Schools, having actively served on its Summer Schools Committee for many years".
She is survived by her daughter, three sons, their spouses and eight grandchildren.
Notes of sympathy should be sent to Albert Koch, 8393 Newburgh Rd. Evansville IN 47715. Albert will share them with his siblings.
The Alumni Association has established an endowed, named scholarship for a Newport Summer School scholar to honor Gwen. Donations in her memory should be made payable to the Alumni Association of the Victorian Society’s Gwen Koch Scholarship Fund and sent to Bob Chapman, Membership Secretary, 111 S. Mountain Ave., Montclair NJ 07042-1737.
RICHARD GUY WILSON
Director of the Victorian Society in America Newport Summer School
Commonwealth Professor’s Chair in Architectural History at the University of Virginia
One of the highlights of every summer for the past nearly 40 years has been to see Gwen’s shining smiling face at one of the American Summer Schools. Always lively and interested, she would post a question to me that would give me pause. I met Gwen Koch in the summer of 1976 when I attended one of the greatest educational experiences of my life, the Victorian Society Summer School in London. Gwen was there with Ruth Emery who co-founded the summer school. Gwen and I hit it off and over many meals (and a few pints) and some bus rides to other cities we discussed Victorian in all its aspects: architecture, gardens, decorative arts, painting, and preservation. This event led to my being called to participate in the first American Summer School in 1978 and then I was asked to take it over. Gwen was a firm supporter of the American summer school even when it floundered in the early 1980s and advocated fiercely for getting it going again, first in Philadelphia and then Newport. Through the help of Gwen the summer school has flourished and she supported many other causes such as the Reitz House in Evansville where I have had the honor to visit and speak several times. She helped preserve some of the important architecture in Evansville and also brought to the consciousness of many Americans, young and old, professionals and students, and just interested individuals the importance of our Victorian past. She will be missed greatly by many people across the United States and abroad, as she made quite an impact.
Summer Schools Advisory Committee Member
Author and Architectural Historian
Although my relationship to Gwen came originally from the Victorian Society, it became far more as she became not only a fun 'Victorian' friend but so much more in her inestimable way of spanning roles from those of a “grandma” of sorts to that of confidant and guide to life's many mysteries and chapters. She will be sorely missed by one and all.
President, Victorian Society in America, Co-Chair Summer Schools Committee
I confess that I was in love with Gwen Koch! I met her at my first VSA Board meeting in the early 80s. She sat next to me, and offered a running-commentary throughout the proceedings. She made me feel completely welcome - and she made me laugh. That pretty much summarizes the Gwen I knew for the next 30 or so years. She was a great friend and she offered me her opinion or advice on just about everything - whether solicited or not. When they popularized the phrase 'tell it like it is' they must have had Gwen in mind, because she always got right to the point!
Usually the first thing she would say when we met up was "we have to talk!" and talk we did - or rather SHE did. She mentored me through my years as Society president, offering a lot of constructive criticism, and later was an invaluable help to me as Summer Schools Co-Chair. Those schools meant everything to her, and she was going to make sure they were run right—which meant to her exacting standards. She tirelessly talked about and promoted them, handing out business card or flyers or asking me to do that for her, and in fact many of those who attended the schools were her direct recruits.
When Gwen became frail in recent years a number of us organized a tag team to make sure that Gwen would be able to come to our study tours and annual meetings, and attend them she did, even if it meant her taking multiple flights to get there and back. She remained active and involved as recently as three weeks before her passing, when she attended our study tour and symposium in Chicago.
One of my recent and most vivid memories of Gwen is sharing dinner with her and several colleagues at a Spanish restaurant on Michigan Avenue, where she had her mandatory gin and tonic, followed by a glass or two of wine. It was obvious that she was having a wonderful time, and she enthused about how much she enjoyed 'that place with all the small dishes' for the rest of the weekend.
I consider myself blessed to have known Gwen. She was definitely one of a kind and I shall miss her very much.
President, Alumni Association of the Victorian Society Summer Schools
Gwen and I really bonded when I became President of the Alumni Association of the Victorian Society Summer Schools over eight years ago. She enthusiastically encouraged all my efforts to support the Summer Schools. Her wise counsel based on her long history of the Schools was extremely helpful and appreciated. We also became great friends and got into lots of “mischief,” as we called it including hitchhiking a ride in the rain in Washington DC where there were no taxis available, sharing the wedding suite in a hotel in New Orleans with an elevated bed and a huge Jacuzzi that neither of us could get in or out of and sleeping in the Murphy bed in our New York apartment. Her daughter-in-law emailed me two days before Gwen died that she wanted to talk to me. When I called her, her main message was to be sure to represent her at the October 24th Summer Schools Committee meeting in New York. She said she was saving her strength for the March 2015 meeting to select the students. Her mind was sharp to the end. She was always a joy to be with. We had so many terrific times together.
Summer Schools Committee Co-Chair
Victorian Society In America Vice-President, President Emeritus
Although I don’t have the lengthy history with Gwen that my esteemed Alumni Association colleagues have, I spent countless hours over the last three years with Gwen since we became “roomies” on Victorian Society study tours. This was in no way an obligation but rather a time for me to realize how engaging, enlightening and always entertaining Gwen could be. Plus, being so tiny, she hardly took up any space in the room, except for that enormous suitcase she traveled with.
Gwen and I spent countless hours in the early morning and late night of our study tours discussing family, friends, her favorite cities (including Chicago and Evansville), historic houses, the Summer Schools, her long involvement with the Victorian Society, the myriad of people she knew (most of whom she liked) and the latest VSA news. She talked so often about her children and grandchildren that I feel like I know them. Gwen was always a pure delight to be with—cheery, enthusiastic, incredibly sharp, intuitive, and very funny. She astounded me with her ability to plan. She was always ready for a cup of coffee regardless of the hour and eager for a gin and tonic after a long day of touring.
It was an honor to host Gwen at my home following the Chicago symposium and study tour three weeks ago when her flight back to Evansville was canceled. It will be my fondest memory to think of her sitting at my kitchen table, talking and laughing with my husband over her gin and tonic, with my dogs at her feet.
Thank you so much, dear Gwen.
SIBYL MCCORMAC GROFF
Former Chair of the Summer Schools Committee and Advisory Committee Member
Gwen was my mentor and advisor on all sorts of books, historic preservation, architecture, cuisine, Christmas, antiques, the various chapters of my life. A happy memory is visiting Gwen in Indiana and going to New Harmony, where she bought me Paul Tillich, the noted philosopher and theologian's book "The Courage to Be" which was her philosophy and is the spirit of our Gwen! Her "star" is twinkling and will continue to inspire us!
2014 Newport Summer School Scholar
A Candidate, History of Design and Curatorial Studies '15 Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
I had the pleasure of meeting Gwen this past summer in Newport. Though our time was short, I truly appreciate the moments we had together. I feel fortunate to have met such a beautiful, inspiring soul. One thing I will certainly remember: it was very important for Gwen to have her drink everyday at 5pm. Her youthfulness was contagious! She will be greatly missed.