Keynote Speaker, Charleston Symposium
Executive Director, Edenton Historical Commission & Elizabeth Vann Moore Foundation, Edenton, NC
Robert Leath is Executive Director of the Edenton Historical Commission and the Elizabeth Vann Moore Foundation, as well as a consultant to the Cupola House Association, in historic Edenton, North Carolina. In this role Leath oversees the activities of five historic sites that span the better part of two centuries. These include North Carolina’s earliest known house, dated by recent dendrochronology to 1718, the 1758 Cupola House, the 1782 Barker House, and Hayes, a 198-acre plantation outside Edenton that has been in private family hands since 1765.
As North Carolina’s first colonial capital, Edenton enjoys “sister city” status with Charleston during their years together as Carolina’s two governmental centers, north and south.
Recently, Leath served as President of the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust, founded by one of the country’s leading preservationists, Richard Hampton Jenrette. The Trust owns four properties, all built in the first half of the nineteenth century: Edgewater, Ayr Mount, Millford, and Roper House. During his tenure, the Trust embarked on a new, outward-focused educational mission with a newly assembled team of experts in architecture, decorative arts, non-profit financial management, and fundraising.
From 2006 to 2020, Leath served as the Chief Curator & Vice President of Archaeology, Collections and Research at Old Salem Museums & Gardens, overseeing the collections, scholarly journal, and research initiatives at MESDA and Old Salem. In 2015, he was awarded by MESDA the Frank L. Horton Award for Lifetime Achievement in Southern Decorative Arts and, in 2018, he received the Georgia Museum of Art’s Henry D. Green Award for Lifetime Achievement for the Decorative Arts.
From 2000 to 2006, he was Curator of Historic Interiors at Colonial Williamsburg, and from 1999 to 2000, Curator of Collections & Restoration for Historic Kenmore Plantation. As the 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 and served on the boards of trustees for Montpelier and the Decorative Arts Trust. He lectures widely, his articles have been published in American Furniture, The MESDA Journal, and The Magazine ANTIQUES. He serves on the editorial advisory board for The Magazine Antiques and continues to serve on the Advisory Board of the Charleston Symposium, as well as its Moderator and Curator-in-Residence.