May is Preservation Month

Arthur Perry Sewell, (1900-1946) and Elizabeth Murray Sewell, (1890 – 1977), were the first curators and stewards of the Flag House. Because Arthur had been blinded by a chemical attack during World War I, Elizabeth conducted all correspondence and Flag House operations alongside her husband and on his behalf. The couple resided in a third-floor apartment in the Flag House’s attic as late as 1940. Together they were responsible for the initial preservation of the Flag House, restoring it to its approximate 1813 appearance, using Works Project Administration workers and even continuing preservation work during World War II. After Arthur’s sudden death in October of 1946, Elizabeth continued on as curator until April 1957 and oversaw the first initiatives to expand of the museum’s footprint to include the first museum and office building (1950). In 1955, the Flag House underwent a major restoration project to restore the exterior Pratt Street facade to its approximate 1793 appearance. This phase of preservation saw the removal of the storefront window (1-3), installation of a steel beam support in the basement (4), reconfiguring of rooms to restore partition walls and doorways that had been removed from the first floor (5-7), brick restoration on all exterior facades (8-13) and removal of the steam heat and radiator system and plumbing in the kitchen and third floor attic (14-16).

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