President, Classical American Homes Preservation Trust, Hillsborough, NC
Robert Leath is President of the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust. Founded in 1993 by one of the country’s leading preservationists, Richard Hampton Jenrette, today the Trust manages four outstanding properties built in the first half of the nineteenth century: Edgewater, Ayr Mount, Millford, and Roper House. The Trust also owns one of the country’s outstanding collections of period decorative arts, including many documented works by Duncan Phyfe. Today, the Trust is embarked on a new, outward-focused educational mission led by Leath and his newly assembled team of architectural and decorative arts experts.
Previously, as Chief Curator & Vice President of Archaeology, Collections and Research at Old Salem Museums & Gardens, Leath oversaw the collections, library and research initiatives of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, plus archaeology and collections at the historic sites of Old Salem. From 2000 to 2006, he was Curator of Historic Interiors at Colonial Williamsburg, creating the furnishing plans for fourteen of the colonial town’s historic sites. From 1999 to 2000, he was Curator of Collections & Restoration for Historic Kenmore Plantation, and as Assistant Curator for Historic Charleston Foundation from 1991 to 1999, he coordinated the restoration and refurnishing of the Nathaniel Russell House.
Mr. Leath has advised on historic furnishings at James Madison’s Montpelier and Stratford Hall Plantation and served on the boards of trustees for Montpelier and the Decorative Arts Trust. He lectures widely and his articles have been published in American Furniture and The Magazine ANTIQUES. He served on the editorial advisory board for The Magazine Antiques and continues to serve on the Advisory Board of the Charleston Heritage Symposium, as well as its Moderator and Curator-in-Residence.
After studying political science at Guilford College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he attended the MESDA Summer Institute, the Attingham Summer School, as well as Attingham study tours of Devon and Cornwall, the Netherlands and the Veneto. In 2015, after ten years as its leader, he was awarded by MESDA the Frank L. Horton Award for Lifetime Achievement in Southern Decorative Arts and, in 2018, the Georgia Museum of Art’s Henry D. Green Award for Lifetime Achievement for the Decorative Arts.