IT MAY as well frankly be granted that modern conditions confronting us often render the carrying out of a Strictly historic interior difficult or impossible. The introduction of suitable panelling, mantels, and the like in rented houses or apartments is not always practicable: a house may be purchased of which we feel the interior to be sufficiently appropriate without adding to its initial coSt the expense of extensive changes.
In such cases one should at leaSt follow the spirit of our historic decoration, though we may not be able to follow the letter. If we avoid incongruous elements, we may very well do with plaStered, papered, or painted walls, and simple door- and window-trims.
If a but moderate outlay be contemplated, much may be accomplished through the applying of simple mouldings over canvas, a dado, or the introduction of a chair-rail to a plain plaStered wall, according to the period to be carried out in walls and furnishing.
For, contrary to the too usual misconception, there existed in the domestic architecture of America, during the two centuries from its settlement to 1825, several overlapping, but nevertheless distinct Styles, to the characteristics of which we muSt give due heed.
Not all those who have a fair knowledge of American furniture realise the importance of its architectural setting. On the other hand too great purism is inadvisable; for we do not always consider how comparatively few Briftly period interiors can have existed in any paSt period. An example would be an edifice
newly eredted and newly decorated and furnished all in the be& and very late& manner of that particular year. Colour, draperies, and accessories would be in complete accord. Every age would of course have afforded some such examples, but what a small numerical relation would they bear to the residences of like class thereabouts. Even in those cases where the furnishings were entirely new, the interior archite&ure, if in good condition and not too greatly outmoded, would frequently remain unchanged. Throughout the history of decoration transitions from one Style to another were very gradual and the older mode invariably overlapped the new. There were always important, fashionable houses introducing the latent developments, these new features gradually being embodied in succeeding buildings.
With due regard to the limits of a convenient volume scarcely more can be done here than furnish a handy sketch of the Styles and changes moSt interesting to the general reader, without attempting to cover all features or their many variations; and in general this can beSt be done by illustrating and commenting upon a few rooms from notable houses among those that helped "set the pace" for less ambitious homes. For such houses were the more perfect of their kind and embodied the ideal toward which others ¿trove.
When houses evolved from the primitive shelter into the more or less comfortable abode, the more usual finish of the interior was in New England a sheathing of broad boards grooved together, perhaps more usually set perpendicularly but frequently horizontally. Adopted in that severe climate primarily for purposes of warmth, it is, though a severely simple, a not unattractive finish, and is often reproduced today. When this is done, it of course should be accompanied by correspondingly simple furniture of its time. This sheathing was also employed for the partitions between the rooms, and such doors as remain extant were similarly constructed and Studded with wrought-iron nails. Sometimes clay plaSter took the place of sheathing. The windows of good houses were lead casements, sometimes with transoms, and usually in ranges of two or more windows. It is not generally 1 realised that glass was a comparatively scarce commodity even in England in the early seventeenth century, and until its middle years oiled paper was not infrequently used throughout the colonies, especially in the poorer houses. Some windows were furnished with shutters instead of sash. The great fireplaces were exceedingly simple, and the beams of the ceiling commonly appeared.
In the middle and Southern colonies plastering of the inside of the outer walls was the rule, but the inner walls seem generally to have been frame partitions.
Massachusetts and Connecticut were very conservative and the above features often there persisted during the firSt quarter of the eighteenth century. When panelling was introduced it was at firSt likely|to retain features of the Queen Anne Style rather than at once to adopt the Georgian mode. But the beginning of the century marks the gradual transition to panelled walls and double-hung sash in the wealthier and more progressive sections of New England, such as Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and in the middle and Southern colonies. Nevertheless, leaded casements persisted in some instances even through the eighteenth century.
Following the introdu&ion of the mode of Inigo Jones and Wren in England (a Style decidedly classic though with some Baroque tendencies) the development in interior finish in America was surprisingly rapid, so that by 1722 we find such interiors as that of Graeme Park illustrated in Plate 127. By 1730 there existed in Virginia and Pennsylvania interiors very similar to that at Ratcliffe Manor, near EaSton, Maryland, illustrated in Plate 128. This is shown as an especially charming example, which, though not built until 1749, follows the general Style of earlier houses in more advanced locations. Graeme Park was eredted by Sir William Keith, the Governor of Penn's colony, notable as one such Governor who was popular with the people—and hence not with the Proprietaries, by whom he was finally deposed. This seat is located at Horsham, about nineteen miles from Philadelphia, and when Sir William drove to the city "he made the journey with his coach-and-four in truly regal fashion."
Between say 1722 and 1730 there was an abandonment of this bolder, heavier Queen Anne type in favour of one of greater refinement, and from this time on there was a constant development and organisation of this new mode, and what that mode was and how that development occurred should properly be understood. It was simply the transfer to America of the English architectural Style of the Georges, and is properly, therefore, termed the Georgian Style. JuSt as our cabinetmakers were working in the English mode, so were our builders. And this occurred in each case through the same means. Workmen in both branches came from England but during this period the greatest infiltration of adequate knowledge of the Styles undoubtedly came through books. The number of architectural works, both elaborate and in the shape of smaller handbooks, was large, and some of them ran through repeated editions. Because of our need of guidance, most of these found their way here quickly, and their use by builders was universal. A natural result of the same knowledge circulating throughout the colonies was a quite uniform development of our domeátic architecture, varied somewhat in expression, it is true, by local conditions and climate. The South Carolina house differed in plan from that of Pennsylvania, and that of Pennsylvania varied somewhat from that of New England, but nevertheless as a whole we find consiátency of átyle.
Architecture and furniture usually march together, but before 1760 we have the unusual spectacle of this classic phase of interior architecture accompanied by the Dutch Baroque furniture of the Queen Anne-Early Georgian mode, and after 1760 by that of Chippendale. The "Architects Furniture" of early Georgian years was, as we have seen, an attempt to turn furniture in the classic direction.
It was however but partial and certain classes of furniture only were affected: any move in this direction speedily ceased under the influence of Chippendale, not at all a classiciát; so that it was not until the adoption of the Hepplewhite and Sheraton átyles, after the Revolution here, that furniture was brought into accord with architecture.
During the Chippendale period the current fashionable French influence introduced into this generally classic architecture many Rococo features. The volume moát potent in this direction was Abraham Swan's " British Architect," published in London in 1745, circulating here, and printed in an American edition in Philadelphia in 1775. These Rococo features appear as far south as in the notable home of Miles Brewton in Charleston.
As the Chippendale Style of furniture had its higheSt development in Philadelphia no interior could be more appropriate, as showing its architectural setting, than Mt. Pleasant, Fairmount Park, built soon after 1761 and later owned by Benedict Arnold. Close indeed is the kinship, for the ornament in the upper portion of the overmantel of this State-chamber (Plate 129, reproduced by permission of H. Ferdinand Beidleman) is the Chippendale Rococo of the furniture and likely carved by one of those to whom we owe the beautiful work of the chairs, tables, and highboys we have seen. It will be noted, too, that there again appear the flower rosettes to which attention was called.
Beautiful as was their architecture even these moSt "advanced" houses offered few of the conveniences of living that we enjoy today. Each floor usually contained but four rooms with a large hallway. We all know the outside appearance of the usual pre-Revolution house-r-a central doorway flanked by two windows at each side op. the firSt floor and a range of five uniform flat-headed windows above. The Palladian window (arched centre with two flat-headed narrower side-lights) occurred, particularly on Stairways. There are Palladian windows in this house above the central doorway on both fronts. As we are taking this illustration as a text, it will be seen that the window to the right, in common with numbers of others throughout the country, has panelled inside folding shutters.
At Mt. Pleasant there are two separate dependencies or outbuildings, and these contained the kitchen and offices. In moSt houses the kitchen was in the basement. No matter how well covered, food that was
DRAWING-ROOM AT GRAEME PARK, HORSHAM TOWNSHIP, NEAR PHILADELPHIA, Queen Anne Type appearing later than in England By Courtesy of H. Ferdinand Beidleman
LIVING-ROOM AT RATCLIFFE MANOR, NEAR EASTON, MARYLAND Early Georgian type By Courtesy John Martin Hammond, Esq.
THE STATE BED-CHAMBER, SECOND FLOOR, MT. PLEASANT, PHILADELPHIA. BUILT SOON AFTER 1761 Perfected Georgian style with Rococo pediment to the overmantel By Courtesy of H. Ferdinand Beidleman
THE CAPTAIN COOK ROOM AT THE PENNSYLVANIA MUSEUM, MEMORIAL HALL, PHILADELPHIA r*mom root wüll-naner bv Toseoh Dufour. Paris. Adam mantel by Wellford, Philadelphia, C. 1810
THE PARLOUR AT KENMORE. NEAR FREDERICKSBURG, VIRGINIA. BUILT BEFORE 1775 stucco wails, mantel, anci ceiling Photograph by The Cook Studio, Richmond, Virginia
A. Doorway in Georgian Style B. Doorway with Adam Characteristics
DOORWAYS AT WHITEHALL, ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MARYLAND
AN ADAM MANTEL AT THE LILACS, FAIRMOUNT PARK, PHILADELPHIA By Courtesy of H. Ferdinand Beidleman
INTERIOR OF THE JOHN C. STEVENS HOUSE, NEW YORK CITY. CLASSIC REVIVAL, C. 1830 From the original water-colour drawing by Alexander Jackson Davis in the possession of the New York Historical Society
"piping-hot" can scarcely have beien usual at Mt. Pleasant.
In this and many other houses various arrangements were now used for doing away with the great Stairway in the central hall—here it was banished to a compartment at the side.
Earlier in the century, as in England, the fully panelled wall was the ideal; though, for the saving of expense, some walls were frequently left plain except on the fire-place side in less important houses or in the less public rooms. But it was for no such reason that we see the plain wall with dado at Mt. Pleasant. It is in itself an indication that the use of panelling was now on the decrease. This was not yet invariable, however, as is shown by one of the fineSt interiors in the whole country—that of the Brewton house, 1765-69, previously referred to, with full architectural treatment throughout the drawing-rooms, which extend along the entire second-Story front. This cuStom of placing important rooms on the second floor was quite common in the South and was later adopted in such fashionable Northern residences as the Bingham house in Philadelphia, built before 1788.
Where panels remained they were large, those on the side walls usually extending from dado to ceiling. Light tints of colour were used as well as white.
Because of the importance of the "hearth" in home life the fire-place wall was given the moSt elaborate treatment. Imported mantels were frequently used and these were without shelf. These mantels, as also doorways, window-casings, and overmantels, were commonly dog-eared. The overmantels consisted of a central panel, for mirror or painting, surrounded by an architrave, as at Mt. Pleasant. There might be pilaSters at the sides, or the overmantel might be topped with a broken pediment of the character shown over the side-cupboards here. The cornice was of good weight and the dado was retained even when the field of the wall above was plain. The handsome acanthus consoles will be noted.
The letter of Thomas Hancock of BoSton ordering wall-paper from London in January 1737-8 is well known. The use of this wall-covering remained infrequent at firSt, but grew in favour, and especially after 1760 became extremely fashionable. The handsome scenic and other papers, particularly those of France, made a wide appeal (see Plate 130). Miss McClelland in her "Historic Wall-Papers" tells us that in 1769 Plunket Fleeson of Philadelphia announces "American Paper Hangings, manufactured in Philadelphia, of all kinds and colours, not inferior to those generally imported and as low in price."
This new fashion in wall-treatment was doubtless largely responsible for the disuse of panelling, though even when it was discontinued many walls remained plain.
Textiles were used for wall-coverings with sufficient frequency to be advertised for this purpose. Light blue silk was employed in the Richard Derby house, BoSton, previous to 1825.
But anterior to the Revolution we also find a very different type of interior—that illustrated by Kenmore, near Fredericksburg, Virginia, the home of Betty Lewis, the siSter of Washington (Plate 131). A similar Style prevailed at Mt. Vernon. Both these houses were previous to 1775. At Kenmore, walls, ceiling, and mantel are all of Stucco, and it will be noticed that the ceiling is not Rococo, againSt which a reaction was now being felt. The dog-ear Still prevails in mantel and overmantel, and we also see the panelled inside shutter. The dado is plain. Notice the mantel: there is not yet the later widely projecting shelf, but room is found upon the end-blocks for two small ornaments.
We can well imagine the beauty and attraction such interiors muSt have presented when they were the scenes of the social life of the period.
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