Thursdays w/ George: Virtual Lecture Series


The Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum (WDS) will present “Thursdays with George,” an entertaining virtual lecture series and celebration of the birthday of the first U.S. president, and the Webb-Deane-Steven’s Museum’s most celebrated visitor.

On Thursday, February 11, 2021, at 6 p.m., the series begins with Steven T. Bashore, director of historic trades at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, who oversees the interpretation, operations and maintenance of Washington’s distillery and gristmill. Register here.

After his presidency, George Washington retired to Mount Vernon and constructed a large whiskey distillery. It became one of the largest whiskey distilleries in early America. Over 200 years later, Mount Vernon accurately reconstructed the distillery on its original location. The reconstructed gristmill and distiller produce products using 18th-century methods. Bashore will discuss Washington and whiskey, and how products are produced today using the techniques from Washington’s time.

Bashore is a traditional miller and distiller by trade and has been operating, interpreting and repairing historic watermills for 27 years. Since 2007, he has been distilling at George Washington’s reconstructed distillery producing rye whiskey, bourbon, single malt whisky, rum and brandy. He has been a spirits judge for the American Craft Spirits Association and for World of Whiskies.

Second in the series will be “George Washington Through a Photographers Eye,” with Walter Smalling Jr., an architectural photographer who has extensively photographed George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Smalling will share his images and perspective on Thursday, February 18, 2021, at 6.p.m. Register here.

Smalling has specialized for 40 years in historic preservation photography, a niche which has taken him to the far reaches of the earth. He worked for the U.S. National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places and the Historic American Buildings Survey, crisscrossing the U.S. His travels have taken him from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello to Monhegan Island, Maine, from the Iditarod Dog Sled Trail in Alaska, to historic sugar cane plantations in the Virgin Islands, and from historic districts from Maine to California. His most recent book, “At First Light, Two Centuries of Maine Artists, Their Homes and Studies, ” is from Rizzoli Publishing.

The third lecture in the series will be “Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon,” with Susan P. Schoelwer, executive director of Historic Preservation and Collections and Robert H. Smith Senior Curator at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, on Thursday, February 25, 2021 at 6 p.m. Register here.

At the end of Washington’s life, the population at his Mount Vernon plantation numbered more than 300 enslaved men, women, and children, fewer than 20 hired or indentured white employees, and 5 family members. Installation of the 2016 exhibition “Lives Bound Together,” at George Washington’s Mount Vernon marked a significant step in an ongoing process of recognizing and recovering the historical experiences of the enslaved people and understanding how their lives were inextricably intertwined with the first president’s. Schoelwer will present an overview of the galleries and behind-the-scenes reflections on the development of the exhibition and related projects, lessons learned, and continuing efforts to offer a more inclusive interpretation of life on one of America’s best known plantations and most visited historic sites.

Schoelwer directs the architectural preservation, furnishing, and interpretation of George and Martha Washington’s house and surrounding plantation buildings, gardens, landscape, and viewshed, as well as the fine and decorative arts collection, museum exhibitions, archaeology, and heritage breeds livestock program. She led the reinterpretation of the Mount Vernon Greenhouse Slave Quarters and the creation of the award-winning exhibition, “Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.” Prior to coming to Mount Vernon as curator, she served for more than a decade as head of museum collections at the Connecticut Historical Society, where she edited and authored landmark volumes on Connecticut furniture, tavern signs, and needlework.

About the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum
Located in the heart of Connecticut’s largest historic district, the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum provides the quintessential New England experience – from the American Revolution to the early 20th century. Tours include the 1752 Joseph Webb House, where General George Washington met with French General Rochambeau and planned the military campaign leading to the end of the Revolutionary War; the 1770 Silas Deane House, built for America’s first diplomat to France; and the 1788 Isaac Stevens House, which depicts Connecticut life in the 18th and 19th centuries. For more information visit: or call (860) 529-0612, and like us on Facebook: