The Long History of Wallpaper at The Gables

April 1, 2018 Published By Julie Arrison-Bishop

Every owner of The Gables left behind evidence that they adopted the decorative trend of wallpaper in the home—a trend that has a long and interesting history in New England. One of our most intriguing stories comes from the newest wallpaper in the house, reproduced by Adelphi Paper Hanging, LLC.

Richard Nylander, curator emeritus for Historic New England, made a number of visits in 2016 to analyze the wallpaper found during the restoration of the Accounting Room. He noted that the earliest wallpapers found date to c.1790 and are likely the products of the earliest New England wallpaper makers, known as paper stainers. One of the patterns, the Statue of Diana, has been found in a number of homes in the region.

When Caroline Emmerton and Joseph Chandler began their restoration work in 1908, walls were added to the Accounting Room and a collection of architectural elements was preserved for later study. Some of these elements included the Diana pattern, which is believed to be the inspiration for the wallpaper that was reproduced by John T. Morrow, Inc. of NY. A copy of the Morrow paper was mass-produced by the MH Birge Company of Buffalo, NY called “The Nathaniel Hawthorne.” In one of the Birge Company publications they stated that the “original paper still adorns the large living room of this house.”

The newest wallpaper installation at The House of the Seven Gables was completed in June 2017 and brought the trend full-circle. The Accounting Room provides an example of the many ways we are sharing 350 years of stories including a summary of Hawthorne’s famed novel, the use of the room by the Turners, and now a modern tale of preservation.

This post was written by Julie Arrison-Bishop