“Frank’s vision of the Eastern Shore” by Stewart Butler

As a student at Salem College, I had the privilege of briefly coming to MESDA in the mid 1970s for a research tutorial with Frank Horton. I found him to be charming, humble, intelligent, and most of all passionate about his collection which had been the genesis of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts.

MESDA’s Cherry Grove Parlor Installation supported by Agnew Hunter Bahnson III, Frank King Bahnson, Karen Bahnson, Mr. and Mrs. Albert L. Butler, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. William T. Wilson, Jr. Renovations supported by MARPAT Foundation of Washington, DC

His hands-on approach to collecting and to research was defining and made an indelible mark on my 20 year-old self. A few years later, when my husband’s family supported the gift of restoration for Cherry Grove Parlor, I was once again at MESDA celebrating Frank’s vision of Eastern Shore architecture in a space that was filled with 18th century period furniture, paintings, and other objects. That evening was memorable as well, particularly as I recall the beautiful reception was by candlelight!
30 years later, as I find myself about to celebrate my fifth year working for MESDA, I recognize that Frank’s presence as historian, collector, researcher and teacher lingers in this Museum as a beloved figure that guides the guides, inspires the staff, and always impresses our guests with a legacy that is unforgettable to all that knew, loved, respected, and admired this icon of southern culture.

Happy Birthday Frank!

Stewart Butler, North Carolina


Celebrating Frank L. Horton’s 100th Birthday