Did you miss the VHS lecture about the Theater fire on December 6th? Lucky for you, the most recent Banner Lectures delivered at the Virginia Historical Society may be streamed from their website!
You can use this link to hear the lecture in full (along with slides). An audio only version of the talk is available for streaming or free download here. I had a great time talking about the fire and the transformation it brought to Virginia, and received enough enthusiastic compliments from the audience there and via email to believe that they enjoyed the talk too. (Even if I apparently said “um” more times than I recollected. Clearly a forgiving crowd.)
And I learned from them! A relative brought an original letter from John Tyler (yes, President Tyler) proving that he was at the scene of the fire as a young state delegate. (His descendants still own his plantation home, Sherwood Forest, in Charles City, VA, by the way, and it’s open for tours.) Another sent a portrait of a gorgeous teenaged Caroline Homassel–a main subject of my talk– from a private collection. (I have been LOOKING for that portrait for years! Alas too late to include in the book…) And I discovered that the family regionally pronounces the surname “Home-uh-ZEHL” vs. “HOME-astle”. Live and learn.