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Capstone Recap

With my high school graduation in a month, my school allowed my senior class the opportunity to participate in a capstone internship from May 13 - May 31st. At my school, the Senior Capstone Project is a chance for seniors to spend the last three weeks of school interning for a person, group, or company to demonstrate their skills and attain work experience. I was given the chance by Loudoun Museum to research with them for the duration of the three weeks. After 50 hours, I am pleased with the efforts I have made, and grateful for the opportunity by both Rock Ridge High School and the Loudoun Museum to let me spend the month of May interning.


I began my relationship with Loudoun Museum in July when I started volunteering at the front desk. After spending multiple weekend afternoons volunteering, I realized during the year that the museum was where I wanted to do my capstone internship. Following a meticulous process of setting up my capstone project with my school counselor, I finally got to work on May 13th.


For the duration of my capstone project, I shadowed Anjali Diezman, the Program and Education Manager and worked on special projects. Through shadowing Anjali, I gained insight into how the events at the museum are organized and structured with the goal of educating visitors and preserving the local history. An event I got to help with was In Time: Revolutionary Riddle, an interactive event where traveling historical actors helped visitors through an educational scavenger hunt of Loudoun's local history. I learned about the collective effort put into events at the museum, and the detailed process of setting up an event.

 

My first research assignment was to examine Marquis De Lafayette's 1824 tour in America, in preparation for the 200th anniversary of his voyage back to the States. During Lafayette's journey across the East Coast, the Continental Army general found himself in Leesburg, Virginia in early August of 1825. I researched Lafayette's time in Leesburg, what occurred during those few days, and who was with him. I was intrigued to find out that Lafayette visited the town of Leesburg with the current U.S. president of the time John Quincy Adams and the former president James Monroe. Lafayette was honored with a large banquet at the Courthouse lawn, including around two hundred Leesburg citizens and a large number of toasts.













Photo by author.


The goal of researching Lafayette's 1824 tour was to find information on any locations Lafayette had visited in Leesburg in hopes of including them in the 2024 Hauntings tour. I discovered that Lafayette had stayed at the Laurel Brigade Inn, though the Inn has now long closed and has become an office for attorneys. With this newfound information, I drafted an email to contact the owners of the location in hopes of using this once-inn as a site for the Hauntings tour. I also reached out to local historians about the history of the Laurel Brigade Inn and any of its potential paranormal ties.


Proceeding with my research for Hauntings, I began to study the Laurel Brigade Inn further. I learned that in the 1800s, the location served as an inn under Eleanor and Henry Peers. Later into the second half of the 19th century, the inn became the home of Dr. Armisted Mott and his lineage. For 90 years, the house was owned by the Mott family until 1946 when the location once again became an inn. After decades as an inn, 20 West Market Street has served as office space since 2004. I also discovered a rumor that the building possibly served as a hospital during the Civil war, making it apparent as to why the inn was later named Laurel Brigade after the Confederacy unit. With the information I found, I created the beginnings of a new script for Hauntings.


To finish the three weeks, I went on a trip with the Museum employees to the museum’s storage to identify archived quilts and their possible period of creation with the help of the Waterford Quilters Guild. This was a remarkably interesting experience because I got to view many archived items not on display and help in the process of identifying items age using certain factors such as design.













Quilt examination by the Waterford Quilters Guild. Photo by author


In conclusion, my time at the Loudoun Museum for my Senior Capstone Project was very rewarding. I researched in modes I would not have been able to do in school and had a great time working with the museum employees. I feel fortunate that my school allowed me to spend three weeks at the museum because it gave me better insight into the world of museums, research, and Loudoun itself.

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