Lectures

Susan Sully frequently lectures for antiques shows, decorative arts groups, collectors clubs, museum groups, historical organizations, and women’s clubs. Past venues include Sotheby’s Institute, The Smithsonian’s National Building Museum, the National Arts Club, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Thomasville Antiques Show (GA), Dallas Woman’s Club, Tuckahoe Woman’s Club (VA), Newport Beach Decorative Arts Society, and Baker Knapp & Tubbs showrooms.

Topics

Past Perfect: Living with Heirlooms and Antiques

This lecture focuses on how people live with heirlooms and collections, weaving them into houses filled with beauty and character. Some featured homeowners decorate primarily with inherited possessions, integrating these and the memories they convey into everyday living. Others surround themselves with acquired objects in homes that express their personal taste and experiences. One of the best examples of these is Box Hill, 19th-century summerhouse of Gilded Age architect Stanford White, which survives with most of its original contents intact. Still other collectors use antiques to tell stories about specific places and moments in history, such as residents of an East Hampton cottage filled with locally made furniture, art, silver, and artifacts from whaling days and the China trade. Featuring interiors decorated by collectors, antiques dealers, historians, artists, and well-known design professionals, the talk celebrates the beauty and relevance of antiques in every setting, from a high-rise condominium and a suburban cottage to a converted fire station and a French Neoclassical style villa.

Southern Style: Town & Country

This lecture compares and contrasts the South’s urban homes and country retreats in vivid detail. It provides an excellent overview of the sophisticated styles of architecture and interior design flourishing in the South’s most cultured cities from the late 17th century to the present. It also transports audiences to the places where Southerners have traditionally retreated to escape summer’s heat and enjoy each other’s company in more relaxed settings. Tybee Island outside Savannah, Nag’s Head on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, and Flat Rock in the Blue Ridge Mountains are all historic getaways filled with charming Southern vernacular dwellings. Cottages chosen from these and other popular Southern resort destinations are contrasted with fine historical residences in Charleston, New Orleans, Savannah, and elsewhere. This lecture gives a comprehensive overview of Southern architecture and interior design and demonstrates how very-and delightfully-varied it is.

The Southern Cosmopolitan: Sophisticated Southern Style

This lecture celebrates the luxurious and cosmopolitan side of Southern architecture and design from the 18th century to the present. It focuses on three enduring aspects of Southern style: a penchant for the past, a fascination with the exotic, and a passion for fashionable styles. While the region’s love of the past is well known, it is often forgotten that the South’s role as a major point of trade fostered an appetite for exotic foreign furniture and objects. Another overlooked aspect of the region’s surprisingly complex design identity is that Southerners have been home fashionistas since colonial times, keeping close eyes on contemporary styles in Europe and beyond. This lecture explores these complex and intriguing aspects of Southern aesthetic history with examples from Charleston, Savannah, Atlanta, New Orleans, Natchez, Alexandria, and Georgetown.

The Southern Cottage: From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Florida Keys

This lecture takes audiences to charming Southern cottages in the countryside, on the shore, and in the mountains, introducing them to the region’s vernacular architecture, including chinked log mountain cabins, Key West conch cottages, shingle-style houses in northern Florida, and Victorian country cottages. Offering insights into the informal side of Southern style, the lecture looks at the factors that shaped varied cottage styles including cultural influences, the availability of specific materials, and climate. Mixing modern-day houses with historic examples that demonstrate a widely varying approach to decoration, the accompanying images provide inspiration to those who are thinking of building, restoring, or redecorating a cottage of their own.

Additional Lecture Topics

Charleston Style: Past and Present
Savannah Style: Mystery and Manners
New Orleans Style: Past and Present
Charleston and Savannah: So Close and Yet So Far Away
Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans: Elegance and Eccentricity
Casa Florida: Spanish Style Houses from Winter Park to Coral Gables

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