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What is the Yellow Chamber?

When Samuel and Sarah Catherine moved into the Moffatt-Ladd House in 1764 the home was a brand new showpiece. Designed to impress, no expense was spared. In the inventories of the home that were taken in 1768 and 1786, the “Yellow Chamber,” the largest bedroom on the right on the second floor, was valued the highest because of the materials that were in it. Yellow damask fabric, imported from England, covered the bed, the curtains, and the chairs. There were four Persia carpets covering the floor, and high-style wallpaper covering the walls.

Our Goal

Our goal is that the Yellow Chamber will serve as a way for visitors to understand the many facets of the history of the house and those who lived in it. By restoring it to its original condition, visitors will be able to see for themselves the richness of the fabric, the complexity of the wallpaper, and the true color of the walls. Those features speak to the fortune of the Moffatt family and their involvement with the Atlantic economy of the eighteenth century. The room will guide us in our understanding of life for a merchant and his family, the people they enslaved, and the complexities of their world.

Why Now?

This room was restored in the 1970s and 1980s, however technology and research have come a long way. Therefore, the NSCDA-NH put together a committee to lead a new restoration project of this special chamber. In February 2022 we hired Amy Cole Ives from Sutherland Conservation and Consulting to conduct a paint analysis. She confirmed that the paint in the room had indeed been yellow, but it most likely looked a lot different than the yellow that is painted in there now. In the eighteenth century, paints were mixed with natural components that gave them a more translucent appearance than our commercial paints have today. We will be recreating the paint in the chamber so that its appearance will be closer to how it looked in the 1760s.

Scope of Work

This project began with a paint analysis completed in 2022 which tells us the colors and materials of the original paint. The wallpaper, bed curtains, and window curtains are being reproduced from original samples, and the woodwork will be painted with a new paint, made with the same materials as the original. We know from inventories taken in the eighteenth century which furniture was in the room, so the committee is attempting to find appropriate furniture in line with what would have been found there.

Want to help?

The Yellow Chamber Restoration Project is estimated to cost about $200,000. Since the NSCDA-NH is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, we rely on generous donations to fund these important preservation initiatives. To give to the Yellow Chamber, please send a check payable to Moffatt-Ladd House & Garden to 154 Market Street Portsmouth, NH 03801 or give online. 

Donate to the Yellow Chamber

 

Committee

  • Elaine Blaylock
  • Sherry Cullimore
  • Meredith Harding
  • Elizabeth Higgins
  • Cleo Huggins
  • Katherine Ingram
  • Emilyn Kennedy
  • Erica McAvoy
  • Jane Nylander
  • Richard Nylander
  • Paige Trace

 

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