Remembering Frances Middleton
By Leslie Weston
Some people live with such energy and purpose, that even when they leave us, we still feel their presence. Residents, staff, and friends of the Chase Home are still expecting Frances Lemkey Middleton to arrive as usual and give a house tour, stop by the kitchen to tell a joke, or speak to the staff about some detail she noticed on her way through the door. Known for her sharp mind, intelligence, sense of humor, and passion for education and service, Frances was more than a devoted volunteer. She was a part of the Chase Home family. It's summer now, and Frances should be remarking on the flowers blooming in the garden.
Frances passed away in March at the venerable age of 96 from complications due to surgery, still giving tours at the Chase Home almost until the end of her long, busy life. Originally from Cradock, Virginia, Frances attended Western Maryland College, earning a Masters Degree. She lived in Annapolis, worked as a teacher in Anne Arundel County schools and raised a family with her husband Elmer, who passed away in 1993. Never one to sit still for long, Frances had another career in volunteer service to St. Anne's Episcopal Church, and as a docent at the Governor's Mansion and the Chase Home.
A lifelong educator, Frances was a student of history and a lover of the eighteenth and nineteenth-century architecture most of us walk by downtown without a second thought. She was well read and schooled herself in Annapolis history and the history of the Chase Home. With a reputation as a knowledgeable tour guide, she was known to spend slow afternoons at the Chase Home, reading up on history. One of her favorite references was Annapolis, City on the Severn, by Jane Wilson McWilliams. Those about the Chase Home remember Frances between tours, with her face buried in a history book.
Always neat and impeccably dressed, Frances had a reputation for liking things “just so.” If she noticed something out of place, she would point it out. If there was something she thought her friends needed to know about, she wasn't shy about sharing her views. And though no one was sure where this proper, well-regarded, great-grandmother accumulated her stock of very funny and sometimes slightly off-color jokes-- if you heard people laughing in the kitchen, chances are, Frances was probably at it again.
"I remember Frances Middleton very, very fondly. Not only because she shared my passion for history and old houses, but also because she was devoted to education and learning for herself and others,” says Carol Kelly, manager at the Chase Home. “When Frances told people about an historic person, place, or event, she was bringing them into what appeared to be one of her favorite places, her mind. She loved knowing things.”
So, Frances, thank you for your years of friendship, dedication, and service. The flowers will bloom in the garden year after year, and your family at the Chase Home will miss you always.
At The Chase Home - Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...
Welcome to the First Quarterly Newsletter for the Chase Lloyd House. We have created this newsletter to keep the community and our donors aware of activities at the House and what our current needs are. In our first newsletter, we are highlighting one of our key volunteers who is also a new Board Member, Sue Smith.
By Leslie Weston
Volunteer Spotlight is a way to introduce and recognize the Chase Home's dedicated volunteers, and highlight how rewarding it can be to volunteer at this unique historic landmark.
Sue Smith has been a volunteer tour guide with the Chase Home for about four years. Though she is originally from Virginia, she has made Annapolis her home for the last forty years. Sue has led a busy life with "a thirty-two year career, bookended by lots of volunteer work.” A friend, who was volunteering at the Chase Home, encouraged Sue to consider joining her as a volunteer tour guide.
"I followed through with her suggestion," said Sue, "and became thoroughly infatuated with not only the magnificence of the house, but the altruistic purpose of the home. I am a graduate of a college for women and that background may have enhanced my respect for women taking care of women." Sue remains an enthusiastic volunteer and says she loves “the concept of The Chase Home as established by Hester Chase Ridout, and [I] am very much into sharing its 128 year history of taking care of women.” She also enjoys “explaining the personalities and achievements of Judge Chase and the Lloyd occupants,” because “we can relive that important time in our country’s history.”
Sue enjoys giving weekly tours as part of the educational mission of the Chase Home. She feels meeting the diverse visitors she takes through the house is one of the best perks of the job. She feels “the exposure to visitors from all over the country and parts of Europe affords me an opportunity to dialog with all sorts of people.”
Her favorite visitors are area school children, who sometimes take part in an activity dramatizing the wedding of Polly Lloyd to Francis Scott Key. When students from the Key School come to the house, they work with the guides by playing roles of various historical figures. Young students are “great fun to be with,“ and Sue says learns as much from them as she hopes they learn from her. “Their questions are spontaneous and genuine.”
As for local visitors, “it is regrettable... that many [of them] have never heard of the Chase-Lloyd House. Reactions of the local tourists are delightful in their enthusiasm and disbelief they had never been to the House before.”
She finds it surprising that so many people do not know about the house, and they have no idea what they are missing. “The foyer with a cantilevered staircase takes my breath away. The elegant parlor is also homey and intimate, and the dining room…you just have to see it.” After all, once they do see the house, visitors frequently ask, “How can I live here?”
If you have an interest in joining our Docent volunteer team, please contact Sue Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Please note parking space is provided.)
As the Chase Home moves into it’s 127th year of providing a retreat for women and strives to accomplish it’s perpetual mission as laid out by Hester Ann Chase Ridout’s will in 1886, the Home needs outside support for several capital projects. Our current needs are:
Your donation will allow us to fulfill Hester’s vision for women for another 130 years and beyond. Chase Home, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) private foundation eligible for a deduction up to 30% of the donors adjusted gross income. Your donation can be made at our web site or by contacting Molly Smith at 410-263-7261 with any questions.
Visit our web site at: https/:www.facebook.com:ChaseLloydHouse.