Steven Miller, Executive Director of Boscobel House & Gardens
, announced the commencement of sweeping historical upgrades for the entry hall of its iconic c.1808 Federal style mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The project heralds long-term future changes for the house reflecting new interpretive programming.
One of Americas Great Historic Homes
Built by States and Elizabeth Dyckman in the first decade of the 19th century, Boscobel was dramatically saved from demolition, dismantled and moved to its present site in the late 1950s. It was first restored and opened to the public in 1961 with support from Lila Acheson Wallace who, together with her husband DeWitt Wallace, founded Readers Digest. Boscobel has long been recognized as one of Americas premier historic homes of the Federal Period. It boasts beautiful rooms reflecting the style, design and living standards aspired to by the new and established gentry of the early Republic, especially landowners of the Hudson River Valley.
In 1977, the mansion was reopened to the public following a year-long complete decorative renovation by Berry B. Tracy, then a curator with the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Tracys perspective was based on the results of an 1807 estate inventory of States Morris Dyckman and surviving original Dyckman manuscripts.
A Complete Transformation
Subsequent research is now resulting in additional changes for Boscobel. The first and perhaps most visually significant will take place in its grand entry hall. This architecturally classic space with its high ceiling, signature sweeping staircase, columned center arches and dramatic Palladian window will be completely transformed. The walls are receiving a new period-appropriate wallpaper, the floor will showcase a new historic floorcovering, and the painted woodwork trim will receive a new color.
Decisions regarding the wallpaper, floorcovering and paint were all based on extensive research performed by Boscobels Curator and Collection Manager, Judith Pavelock. For many years, Ms. Pavelock examined regional, American domestic interiors during the period of Boscobels construction. Richard and Jane Nylander are the historic consultants to Boscobels upgrade project.
With the exception of the paint color and estate inventory of Boscobel furnishings dated April 27, 1824, comparative historical references will be used where there is no documented information about original decorative elements. Because canvas floorcoverings were common in large entry halls and elsewhere in early American homes, and Boscobel had installed one when it reopened in 1977, that tradition will continue. The new canvas floorcovering replicates the appearance of an off-white marble floor with a scrolling foliage border. It is being handmade and installed by Gwenith Jones and Kenneth Forcier of Gracewood Design in Portland, Oregon.
The ochre-hued wallpaper has an alternating pattern of narrow vertical sheaves bound with tightly cascading swags, flanked by articulated grapevines. It will be meticulously reproduced based on an original documented paper selected from the collection of Historic New England.
Original Paint Samples Uncovered
The updated paint color for the original wood trim of Boscobels entry hall was revealed through a scientific study conducted by Dr. Susan L. Buck, a conservator in private practice who specializes in the analysis and conservation of painted surfaces on wooden objects and architectural materials. It will be a cream-colored paint, with a light sheen. In addition to presenting historic upgrades in the Boscobel hall, the process of installation follows precedent.
The wallpaper is being made by Steve Larson at Adelphi Paper Hangings, LLC, in Sharon Springs, NY, a small, artisanal producer of historically accurate block printed wallpapers. It will be installed by Jim Yates, master paperhanger of Historic Wallpaper Specialties, Johnson City, Tennessee, as it would have been two hundred years ago using joined, overlapping sheets and scissor-trimmed ends. The linseed oil-based paint has been handmade as it would have been at the time of Boscobels building and applied in a similarly traditional fashion using historic materials by historic paint artisan, Erika Sanchez Goodwillie.
Sneak Peek in March with Completion Set for Spring 2014
The Boscobel project for the grand entry hall is scheduled to be completed this spring, when the mansion typically reopens to the public. However, a sneak peek of the hall for volunteers and members of Boscobel, will take place at the end of March.