A Vision for a Museum

Back of Macculloch Hall circa 1940s.

Back of Macculloch Hall circa 1940s.

W. Parsons Todd purchased “the Old House” from George Macculloch’s great-grandson, Henry Wise Miller, in 1949. The purchase price was $10,000 for the twenty- room house and three acres. Although dearly loved, the house had become a burden to the  family. The restoration expenses totaled more than $100,000 in the first eighteen months of the project.

Mr. Todd incorporated the museum as a non-profit organization in 1950. An avid private collector, he sought treasures in galleries and auction houses in New York even after his own collections were installed. At the Twombly auction in 1955, he acquired two easy chairs, three chandeliers, a rug, a pair of urns, more than sixty pieces of Crown Derby porcelain, and the monumental painting Landscape with Fowl. In his twenty-five years of collecting for Macculloch Hall Historical Museum, Mr. Todd accepted only three gifts. He had a vision for his museum.

Mr. Todd pictured fifth from the left.

Mr. Todd pictured fifth from the left.

Mr. Todd’s strong business background and forward-thinking plans for the new nonprofit contributed to its success. In the 1950s he advocated to the museum to create a membership program to encourage public involvement and raise additional funds. When a Board-appointed committee developed a furnishing plan based on recommendations from curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mr. Todd was prepared to “accept the decision of experts and resell or place whatever pieces were discarded.”

At his death in 1977, the leadership the museum had enjoyed was changed forever. The Bicentennial was pushing auction prices upward and Museum purchases stopped with Mr. Todd. Today, the Museum’s collections continue to grow with gifts from private donors and through occasional purchases. More than four decades after his death, Mr. Todd’s legacy remains a pillar against which many subsequent decisions have been measured at Macculloch Hall Historical Museum.