Published: May 5, 2020
NEW YORK CITY – Classical American Homes Preservation Trust (CAHPT) has named Robert Leath as its new president, effective May 18. Leath succeeds Margize Howell and Peter Kenny, who led the Trust as co-presidents until their recent retirements March 31.
Previously, Leath served as chief curator and vice president of Collections, Research and Archaeology for the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) and Old Salem in Winston-Salem, N.C. During his tenure, Leath led an important strategic realignment that included a complete renovation and reinterpretation of the museum’s galleries, the launch of its first website with online research databases, an academic partnership with the University of Virginia for the annual MESDA Summer Institute, and transitioning its scholarly publication, The MESDA Journal, into a digital publication with open access to readers and scholars nationwide. In 2015, Leath received the Frank L. Horton Award for Lifetime Achievement in Early Southern Decorative Arts during the celebration of MESDA’s 50th anniversary.
“The CAHPT Board selected Robert after a nationwide search. We looked for a president who could embrace the ideals and vision that honor Dick Jenrette’s legacy, while envisioning a future for the trust that is sustainable, operationally excellent, and engages a wide array of audiences,” said Lucy Clark Dougherty, chairman of CAHPT. “Robert’s curatorial and programmatic expertise as well as broad historic preservation experience uniquely positions him to lead CAHPT.”
“It is an honor for me to follow in the footsteps of Margize and Peter to fulfill the vision of the Trust’s founder, Dick Jenrette.” said Leath. “Dick was an inspiration to collectors and historic preservationists worldwide, and the trust’s properties, collections and landscapes are internationally significant. The Board of Trustees and the staff remain committed to the highest standards of preservation and curatorship while crafting a dynamic new vision for educational initiatives.”
Prior to his 15-year career at MESDA and Old Salem, Leath held important curatorial positions at Colonial Williamsburg, George Washington’s Fredericksburg Foundation and Historic Charleston Foundation. He currently serves on the boards of the Decorative Arts Trust, chairing its Education Committee, and James Madison’s Montpelier Foundation, chairing its Museum Operations and Education Committee, and as a member of the editorial advisory board for The Magazine Antiques.
Established in 1993 by the renowned collector and historic preservationist Richard Hampton Jenrette Jr, CAHPT owns and operates five nationally acclaimed properties in New York, North Carolina and South Carolina. These include Edgewater (1825) in Barrytown, N.Y.; George F. Baker House (1920s) in New York City; Ayr Mount (1815) in Hillsborough, N.C.; Roper House (1838) in Charleston, N.C.; and Millford Plantation (1839-41) in Pinewood, S.C. The trust’s mission is to preserve, protect and open to the public examples of classical American residential architecture, surrounding landscapes and trails, as well as fine and decorative arts of the first half of the Nineteenth Century.
For additional information, www.classicalamericanhomes.org.
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