The Special Collections Research Center at NC State libraries received a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF) to restore and share home movies created in the early 20th century by the owners of the Chinqua-Penn Plantation.
Built beginning in 1923 and featured on A&E’s “America’s Castles,” the Chinqua-Penn Plantation in Rockingham County is a 27-room mansion. Owners Thomas Jefferson “Jeff” Penn and Betsy Penn amassed a now-famous collection of paintings, furniture, and other decorative arts. The mansion is now a museum open to the public.
At a time when motion picture technology was rare and far too costly for most citizens, the Penns used it to document their world travels, their family and social life in rural Reidsville. Katherine Charron, assistant professor of history, says the films provide a glimpse of what daily life was like in a rural southern community during the 1930s.
The restored movies will enhance NC State’s Chinqua-Penn Collection. Clips will be available on the libraries’ Web site once restoration is completed.