Sweet Briar displays plantation artifacts

| March 13, 2013

Sarah O’Brien ’13 catalogs old farm tools from the plantation and dairy.

Sweet Briar College’s agrarian past is the focus of the upcoming exhibition “ ‘I have lately bought me a Plantation’: A Brief Survey of Farming and Land Use at Sweet Briar,” which opens at 1 p.m. Thursday, March 21, in Whitley Gallery at Sweet Briar Museum. It will be on view through March 2014.

The result of a practicum project undertaken by senior Sarah O’Brien, the exhibition provides a brief overview of Sweet Briar’s farming history, from the days of the Fletchers, who founded the College, to the later 20th century, when the dairy was still in operation. O’Brien, a history major, says her interest in the subject was not just academic.

A milk bottle from the old dairy farm at Sweet Briar.

“I was born and raised on a farm, so I wanted to know the history of farming at Sweet Briar before it became a college,” she said, adding that it was her intention to create a narrative through which visitors can access the College’s past. The hardest part, she said, was deciding which items to include.

The final selection features an eclectic mix of artifacts, such as early 19th-century letters in which Elijah Fletcher wrote to his brother about farming; ceramic drainage tiles from the old tilled fields (courtesy of the archaeology lab); old farm tools; documents and photos related to the College’s early days farming for profit; and milk bottles, milk cans and signage from the era of the dairy.

Museum hours during the academic year are 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. For more information, contact Karol Lawson at klawson@sbc.edu or (434) 381-6248.

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Category: A Landscape for Learning, Academics, Archaeology, Arts Management, History, Tusculum Institute