A National Historic Landmark open to the public since 1912
Wallpaper Discovered in Closet
Recently, we had an exciting discovery--18th century wallpaper that had been hidden behind a small false wall in a closet in the Parlor of the house for 200+ years!
As you may recall, we're in the middle of a long project to restore the Parlor to its 18th century appearance. We've been using 4 inventories from the family taken between 1768 and 1786, along with scholarly research and family information. Through paint research and analysis, we determined that the original color of the woodwork was a dark stone color. The room has been painted to match that color. A 1912 letter records a family memory that the walls were papered with “heavy velvet [flock] paper with red lines.” No traces of that wallpaper had been found in the room itself, but removal of shelves in one of the room's closets revealed an unexpected treasure trove of portions of two eighteenth century wallpapers and a narrow border! We were thrilled by the discovery, but it has led to more questions and not as many answers as we'd like.
Both patterns have large motifs in red flock and each has a different background pattern printed in white on gray. We are hoping someone will recognize one of these distinctive background patterns that might lead us to a larger example that can be reproduced. Please take a look at the pictures below and if you think you might be able to help, please contact us at email@example.com or (603) 430-7968.
We have contacted wallpaper expert Richard Nylander (who is helping us on the project) and he has also sent out the word. We are in the process of preserving the wallpaper samples and afterward we'll determine how to best display the discovery for our visitors.
Restoration projects are always exciting and we can't wait to see what else pops up! Stay tuned!
Patchwork of 3 18th C wallpapers in the Moffatt-Ladd House Parlor Closet
Detail of cross-hatched grey and red paper
Detail of cross-hatched grey and red paper
Parlor Project Update Dec. 2017
The Parlor Project is in progress! Kate Shattuck has finished painting the woodwork according to the findings of the paint analysis done by Brian Powell, formerly of Building Conservation Associates, and Historic New England. We have been actively studying and researching throughout the process. Members of the committee, including Jane C. Nylander, Richard Nylander, Sherry Cullimore, Meredith Harding, Jennifer Evans, Barbara Ward, Gerald Ward, and Mary Waples, have closely inspected evidence for curtains and curtain hardware, and we are removing a core sample from one area to pinpoint how the paint evidence in the holes connects to the full stratigraphy.
Kate Shattuck has carefully removed layers of paint that obscured some of the carved details of the mantel surround, but we have left the full paint sequence in tact in most areas. The full beauty of the carving is now revealed!
The walls will be covered with red flocked wallpaper similar to that mentioned in a family reminiscence. The paper the committee has chosen is the surviving paper still on the walls of one front rooms of the John Wentworth House (built ca. 1760), now used as a conference room by Wentworth Senior Living, which owns the house. The blocks for the paper have been cut, and the colors selected, using evidence from the Wentworth wallpaper. The original vibrant colors of the paper are visible in small areas. The accompanying photo (below) shows the paper as it has darkened over the years, but the original vibrant colors of the paper are visible in small areas, and will be reproduced for the Moffatt-Ladd Parlor. The paper is being produced by Adelphi Paperhangings in Sharon Springs, New York, and will be ready for installation in the spring or summer of 2018.
There is still much more work to be done this winter. We are hoping to make a final determination on the floor treatment soon. Paint evidence suggests that the floor was originally unpainted. Because the floor has now been painted for more than 150 years, removing it presents a challenge. We know that we will be preserving sections of these paint layers, but how we will take the floor back to its original appearance is still under discussion. The early inventories show that there was a small "persia carpet" in the room in 1788 (from the designation in the inventory, we know that it was approximately 7-7 1/2 feet wide, and we believe the length was approximately 9 feet), and this will be an important feature of the room.
Barbara M. Ward, December 9, 2017
Flocked wallpaper from the Governor John Wentworth House, Portsmouth