National Association of Realtors Sponsors Smithsonian Exhibition Centered on 300-year-old American Home

March 26, 2000

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History today announced a sponsorship in the amount of $2.4 million from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in support of a new exhibition centered around a two-and-a-half story house that stood in Ipswich, Mass., for nearly 300 years. Built around 1700, just 30 miles north of Boston, the house stood from colonial days through the early 1960s when it was saved from demolition by an Ipswich citizen and then brought to the Smithsonian Institution.

The marketing sponsorship—a first for the museum—provides an opportunity for the NAR and the museum to link their Web sites and allow NAR to use a logo especially designed for the project by the museum. In November 1999, NAR’s board of directors overwhelmingly voted for the sponsorship. The exhibition will open in May 2001, coinciding with the Realtor Association’s Midyear Governance Meeting in Washington, D.C.

"Now Realtors in every nook and cranny of the country will become shareholders in a remarkable American story," NAR President Dennis R. Cronk said. "This sponsorship speaks to NAR’s commitment to homeownership and the American dream."

The timber-frame house was exhibited in the museum from 1967 to 1982, as an example of colonial building practices. For the past 18 years it has been off view to the public. The museum has conducted new research, which will result in a major new exhibition focused on the social history of the house and the many ways Americans have continually redefined the meaning of "home" and its relationship to the outside world.

"From the doorstep of an ordinary house in Ipswich, we can show part of the rich history of

America by tracing the lives of its residents," said Spencer R. Crew, director of the National Museum of American History. "A home is central to our unique American identity and we are grateful to the National Association of Realtors for making it possible to share these stories."

Research about more than 75 occupants of the house has provided a picture of everyday home life played out against the backdrop of defining eras in American history, such as Colonial America, the American Revolution, slavery and abolition, the industrial revolution and World War II.

"It’s really an ordinary house with extraordinary history, and that’s what makes it the perfect emblem of the role of homeownership in laying the foundation for this country’s dynamism," Cronk added. "The Smithsonian is one of the world’s most respected cultural resources and we are delighted to partner with its National Museum of American History."

"Our strategic partnership in the Ipswich house project affirms not only NAR’s active citizenship and commitment but also our creative and progressive approach to public awareness," said NAR past president Layne R. Morrill, one of the early supporters of the sponsorship agreement.

The exhibition will focus on five of the many families and households who called the house home. Their stories show some of the ways Americans have used their houses in addition to raising families—as a place for achieving social status, seeking freedom, organizing for social change, earning a living and contributing to war efforts. Among the Ipswich house residents were merchants who used the house as a public statement about wealth and lifestyle, managers and laborers who worked in the factories of the industrial revolution, and European immigrants who worked as domestics and general laborers.

The National Association of Realtors, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America’s largest professional association, representing more than 750,000 members involved in all aspects of the real estate industry.


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The National Museum of American History traces American heritage through exhibitions of social, cultural, scientific and technological history. Collections are displayed in exhibitions that interpret the American experience from Colonial times to the present. The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except Dec. 25. For more information, visit the museum’s Web site at http://americanhistory.si.edu or call (202) 633-1000.