MESDA Journey: The Decorative Arts of Our Commanders in Chief

October 2-6, 2019 On the road

MESDA Journey


Join us for a behind-the-scenes look at our nation’s most important historic homes.

The 2019 MESDA Journey will explore the decorative arts and architecture of America’s founding fathers.  With emphasis on the splendid Virginia residences of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, travelers will experience the unique economic, social, and cultural histories of these immeasurably influential figures.  Visits to other significant sites, behind-the-scenes experiences rarely available to the public, and exclusive private entertainment opportunities will create an experience not to be missed.  Participants will benefit from the guidance of MESDA’s Chief Curator Robert Leath, as well as the expertise of site curators and specialists, and the assistance of MESDA’s Development Officer, Catherine Carlisle.


This program has sold out.
If you would like to be added to the waiting list,
please email Catherine Carlisle at

Full registration for the MESDA Journey is $3,000.00 per person, which includes a tax-deductible $500.00 donation to MESDA’s Conservation Fund.  A deposit of $1,000.00 per person is required by May 31st, 2019.  Single supplements of $500.00, when applicable, will be added to the final invoice.


(Subject to amendment)

Wednesday, October 2

We will set off on our journey from Winston-Salem and travel first to Lynchburg, Virginia, where we will be received for lunch at a gracious private residence in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  We will then travel to nearby Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson’s 1806 private retreat and plantation, for curator-led tours of the house, grounds, and recent archaeological excavations.  Next, we will travel to James Madison’s Montpelier in Orange, Virginia, where we will check in to our rooms on the estate.  Our first day concludes with welcome drinks in the historic Bassett House, hosted by Montpelier’s President and CEO Kat Imhoff, followed by dinner in Marion DuPont Scott’s iconic art deco Red Room.

Lunch and dinner included
Overnight in Orange, Virginia

Thursday, October 3

Our day begins with a thorough exploration of James and Dolley Madison’s family home with Elizabeth Chew, Vice President for Museum Programs and Chief Curator.  Dr. Chew will guide us through the house and show us numerous Madison family pieces as well as A Mere Distinction of Colour, Montpelier’s groundbreaking exhibition on the site’s story of slavery.  Our next stop will be the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where we will be greeted by Sara Lee Barnes of the Special Collections Library for lunch and object study.  Afterward, we will take a short stroll to the university’s iconic Academic Village and its recently restored Rotunda.  Our study of Mr. Jefferson continues with a visit to his astounding Monticello.  An introduction to the site will precede a curator-led decorative arts tour of the house with some time left to wander the autumn gardens at your leisure.  A splendid evening at a private residence in Charlottesville with Jefferson descendants awaits us before we return to overnight at Montpelier.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner included
Overnight in Orange, Virginia

Friday, October 4

We begin by venturing to Tudor Place, a Federal-style mansion in the Georgetown Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C., built by Martha and George Washington’s granddaughter in 1815.  Filled with Washington family heirlooms, we will enjoy special access, tours, and lunch with curator Grant Quertermous at this special gem on the Potomac River.  Our adventure in Washington continues with an unforgettable opportunity to privately tour distinguished presidential sites.  We continue our time with the Washington family by traveling just a few miles south to Mount Vernon for an after-hours tour of the mansion, cocktails, and dinner.  Viewing the house when it is closed to the public will offer a special opportunity to look closely at the exceptional collections and the newly-restored front parlor.  During the final two nights of our journey we will reside at the elegant accommodations on the Mount Vernon estate.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner included
Overnight in Mount Vernon, Virginia

Saturday, October 5

Our time at Mount Vernon continues with behind-the-scenes briefings  on current restoration, archaeological, research projects.  Lunch will precede a return visit to Washington, D.C., where we will pass a relaxing afternoon at leisure on the National Mall among the spectacular Smithsonian Museums, including the National Gallery of Art which houses masterpieces of American furniture from the Kaufman Collection.  We will gather for a farewell dinner at an elegant DC residence before returning back to our rooms at Mount Vernon.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner included
Overnight in Mount Vernon, Virginia

Sunday, October 6

In the morning we will set off for Richmond, Virginia, where we will pause for lunch on our journey home.  Upon arrival in Winston-Salem, departures home by car or by air at Piedmont Triad International Airport.

Breakfast and lunch included


Trip Cost

$3,000.00 per person, based on double occupancy for 4 nights.  This price includes a fully tax-deductible $500.00 donation to MESDA’s Conservation Fund, detailed below.

Departure and Return

The MESDA Journey will depart and return to:
the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts
924 S. Main Street
Winston-Salem, NC  27101
Participants are responsible for costs associated with getting to and from the departure and return site.


A deposit of $1,000.00 per person is required at registration.  Reservations and deposits are taken on an “as received” basis until May 31st, 2019.  You will receive confirmation from MESDA once your reservation has been processed.  Please do not make irrevocable transportation reservations until you receive your confirmation.

Single Supplement

If you prefer single-room accommodations, a supplement of $500.00 will be added to your final invoice.

Final Payment

You will be invoiced for the balance of your registration fees.  Your final balance will be due by August 1, 2019.


A donation to MESDA’s Conservation Fund is required for participation in the MESDA Journey and is expected at time of final payment.  This gift is fully tax deductible and helps to provide needed conservation attention to MESDA’s decorative arts collections.


The proposed itinerary is subject to change as necessary.


This trip is limited to a maximum of 20 participants and requires a minimum of 14.  The trip will be cancelled if under-subscribed and registration fees will be refunded.  If interest exceeds the maximum, we will organize and maintain a waiting list on the basis in which registrations are received.  This is a strenuous trip.  We regret that we cannot be responsible for those who need assistance.  By registering, you are certifying that you do not have any mental, physical, or other condition of disability that would create a hazard for yourself or other participants.  MESDA reserves the right to decline anyone as a participant on this trip should the person’s health, actions, or general deportment impede the operation of the trip; the rights, welfare, or enjoyment of others; or the standing of MESDA.

Included in the Trip Cost

4 nights hotel accommodations, 4 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners, and 3 private receptions; private coach transportation; local guides; admission to museums, historic houses, and gardens; and gratuities for professional guides and coach driver.

Not included in the Trip Cost

Transportation other than that specified in the itinerary, alcoholic beverages other than when provided, personal expenses, and trip insurance are not included.

Cancellation and Refunds

If you must cancel your reservation, you are urged to do so as soon as possible in writing to MESDA.  All cancellations are subject to a $100.00 administrative fee.  Deposits are non-refundable after May 31st, 2019.  Cancellations arriving by July 15, 2019 will receive a 50% refund.  Cancellations arriving by August 15, 2019 will receive a 25% refund.  There will be no refunds for cancellations received after August 15, 2019.  MESDA STRONGLY ENCOURAGES ALL PARTICIPANTS TO PURCHASE TRAVEL INSURANCE TO PROTECT AGAINST CANCELLATIONS.


If you have any questions, please contact Catherine Carlisle: