With some sadness and tremendous respect to her long standing achievements, we wished Margaret C. Peck well with a special “Sully House” cake at the May gathering of the Sully Foundation, when she retired from the Sully Foundation Board. She gave 40 years of service to the Park Authority, the Sully Foundation, Ltd. and the community. She served 18 years with FCPA (including the manager position at Sully from 1976 – 1988) and 22 as a board member of the Sully Foundation, Ltd. and was their Treasurer for 10 years.
She also has been an active local historian, educator, author and contributor to several books including Images of America Series: Washington Dulles International Airport, Virginia and Around Herndon. She was a contributing author and editor for Voices of Chantilly, Recollections and Stories from 22 long-time residents, Stories of Floris, Sully: 1794– Stories and Letters, and Samplings from Sully’s Hearth, the cookbook.
I interviewed Margaret at her lovely home in Herndon, preparing for the Park Authority to give her a special achievement resolution. She is most proud of the preservation of Sully, she worked personally with Eddie Wagstaff, who was Sully’s first curator and was also partially responsible for the fight to save Sully from becoming part of the buffer area for Dulles Airport. As manager at Sully she helped to develop a successful school-aged museum education program – including the four learning centers we offer today. She especially enjoyed developing the kitchen program. She liked to “take words and put them into action,” through demonstrations of real cooking representing the late 18th century.
She researched historic letters and documents for years, documenting stories for the families that lived at Sully; especially the Richard Bland Lee family. Margaret helped to develop the docent manual and trained many people on tours and interpretation – giving them confidence to give in-depth tours and sharing the human aspect of the specific history at Sully.
Through the years, Margaret appreciated working with exceptional staff to produce all types of programs including Christmas tours and many fall and spring festivals. She remembers working with Mr. Bush, an older gentleman from Herndon who gave horse and wagon rides on the Sully grounds for 25 cents a ride! She actively worked with the Society of the Lees of Virginia in their support of Sully projects and lending of various collection pieces. She was an advocate, along with her dedicated husband Ben, for the preservation of Frying Pan Farm Park school house and meeting house, working on the master plan with the Frying Pan Farm Park staff and many other projects there.
There are many memories that she shared- she was thrilled watching the first Concord jet arrive at Dulles, viewing it from Sully along with the public and staff. Her favorite memory, which is a keeper,- was one year when she worked at Sully on Thanksgiving Day, when Sully was open year round except for Christmas. It started to snow and across the field came Bland Lee V, (Great, great grandson of Richard Bland Lee) his wife and daughter. They had come in to see her and take a tour amidst the beautiful snow on that special holiday.
Of course Margaret will still be around, visiting Sully with friends and relatives. She will also continue to lend us Ben’s WWII uniform for our summer WWII living history weekend! We will see her soon!
Written by Carol McDonnell, manager, Sully Historic Site