- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 1, 2006

Guests at Tudor Place’s Tribute to Leadership benefit Wednesday night were saddened to learn of the death four days previously of Amie Willard Block, the prominent arts supporter and social figure whose husband, Huntington T. Block, was to be honored for his vital role in helping to preserve the Georgetown house museum, once home to six generations of the Peter clan, descendants of Martha Washington.

Mr. Block was unable to attend, of course, but sent a special message noting his love for the mansion and its grounds (“Camelot on the Potomac” as he described it) that touched the crowd gathered for cocktails and dinner at neighboring Evermay, the last great Georgetown estate still in private hands.

Fellow honorees Austin H. Kiplinger and W. Reid Thompson, both prominent local businessmen, beamed as Tudor Place President Ellen MacNeille Charles and Director Leslie Buhler praised their efforts over the years “to forge a new direction” for the national historic landmark while guiding its transition from private home to public museum,” albeit one with a $900,000 annual budget and $9 million endowment fund.

The Peter family “survived all sorts of tribulations” while living at Tudor Place, Mr. Kiplinger, an astoundingly spry 88, observed after dinner was served in a pavilion erected in Evermay’s spectacular garden. “They could see the U.S. Capitol burn in 1814 and survived slavery and the Civil War. They saw the stresses and strains of the entire nation for more than 200 years. Their experience tells you a lot about this country.”

Tudor Place and Evermay both occupy a very special place in the hearts of the city’s old guard, which ensured the evening’s success. About $50,000 was raised for ongoing restoration from benefactors who included Ruth Buchanan, Albert and Shirley Small, Brittain Cudlip and John Damgard, Warren and Claire Cox, Tyler and Bess Abell, Elinor Farquhar, Connie Carter, Russell and Aileen Train, Fritz-Alan Korth, Carmen Petrowitz, Arthur Gardner, D.C. council member Jack Evans, Elizabeth Burton, Mandy and Mary Ourisman, Lolo Sarnoff, Gertrude d’Amecourt, Todd and Dana Kiplinger and Knight and Ann Kiplinger.

Most interesting guest: somewhat incognito Evermay chatelain Harry Belin, spotted directing cars in and out of the gated driveway for much of the night. Although he shed his traffic warden’s vest in time to dine at one of the top tables, we suspect he had a lot more fun outside refusing tips from unsuspecting fellow guests.

— Kevin Chaffee

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