So, long story short… Before we committed ourselves to a final decision on the study wallpaper, I thought it advisable to check one more time behind the massive radiator where I discovered the initial fragments. This time though, rather than just investigating with camera and flashlight, thanks to the kind offices of our superintendent, Jorge Teixeira, we actually removed the 400 pound beast – with the help of three men! And this is what I found:
Uh oh… See that little leaved bit in the upper left-hand corner? Another fragment of the pattern had come to light.
Here’s an expanded view:
So now, what to make of the pattern? It turns out we were only partially correct on our first version, but fortunately, thanks to the little dot at the 0-inch mark at the lower left hand corner of the first view, we were finally able to determine the repeat with accuracy by flipping and overlaying the detached pieces I found with those still on the wall. That little section really was a lifesaver, because if it hadn’t been for this single bit in situ, there would have been no way to determine the repetition.
Here’s what the pattern looks like, matching extant bits on the wall with recovered fragments:
And voila! Our interpretation:
Note that I say “interpretation.” Given the the poor condition of existing fragments, there’s no way (within our budget, at least) to really determine the original color palette of the paper with absolute accuracy. Though the fragments read mostly red now, they are heavily faded, covered with paint and mastic, and have been subjected to 110 years of heat and light. Originally, the various bands were most likely some other complementary color such as olive green, brown or dark burgundy. Kari Pei, the Director of Design at Wolf-Gordon, whose company is donating the paper for the Suite, sifted through a large number of Victorian paper samples, and proposed several probable color schemes based on patterns of the period. Like so many other things in a project lacking direct photographic evidence, we simply have to make a best guess in keeping with our mission to invoke the period. Of the various options, the one above proved the favorite. The paper’s exact hues by the way, are not yet set. (And how you see them will vary greatly depending on your computer monitor.) The overall final effect should be burgundy/olive green, and we’ll be working with interior designer Kai Chao to coordinate the final shades of the bands with the fabric for draperies, the Morris chairs, as well as the paper for the bedrooms and hall.
And speaking of Kari, she deserves a special word of thanks. Not only is her firm making a substantial donation to our efforts, but she herself put in dozens of hours, handcrafting the design you see above. In fact, she produced over 20 different versions of the FDR paper, each time tweaking and adjusting the pattern as new information came to light. I’m particularly pleased with the way she was able to recreate the loose informality of the original fragments. Her careful eye noticed that the loops in the fleurs de lys, as well as the leaves, varied in sequence, and if you scroll quickly over the design above, you’ll see she was able to replicate that hand-drawn appearance. Quite a feat to replicate on computer!
And one final note: thanks to your generosity – several of you at the Trustee level, bravo! – we’ve acquired the piano! A very special round of applause goes out to Michael Silver, Dean LeBaron, Richard Mayer, Gilbert O’Connell and Pam & Elmer Grossman. Pam, by the way, is the granddaughter of FDR’s roommate and life-long friend, Lathrop Brown. During their visit here in September, she and Elmer provided us with a wealth of fascinating material which I’ll be sharing with you over the next few weeks.
Hotel Packages for the FDR Memorial Lecture
As promised, I wanted to give you advance notice of the two special hotel packages I was able to arrange for those wishing to come to Boston to attend the Third Annual FDR Memorial Lecture:
1) The Charles Hotel, Cambridge is offering a Deluxe King Room for $269 (plus tax) which includes breakfast at the award winning Henrietta’s Table (famous for its farm-to-table menu) as well as a personally signed copy of Chef Peter Davis’ Cookbook “Fresh and Honest”. The Charles is located right in Harvard Square, and is surrounded by several great restaurants, including Legal Seafoods and Jody Adams’ spectacular Rialto, which has consistently been voted one of the 20 best restaurants in America. (Jody’s a friend of mine, and I’ve cooked with her on TV, so I can personally attest this is true!)
2) The second pacakage is at Boston’s newest luxury hotel, the Mandarin Oriental. Nestled in the heart of Back Bay, it’s minutes from almost anything: Boston Common, Newbury Street shopping, the Museum of Fine Arts, and loads of fine dining. (And a quick taxi hop to Cambridge.) The Mandarin also hosts one of Boston’s most luxurious spas: at 16,000, sq. feet, you can while the day away to your heart’s content. (Just don’t miss the lecture!) The Mandarin has offered us a special rate of $295.00 per night (plus tax) for their Deluxe accommodations, which will include breakfast. As an alternative, you may also consider a special rate of $370.00 for an upgrade from a Deluxe room to one in the Mandarin room category (essentially a suite) with breakfast included each morning, and a special $100.00 credit to be used in The Spa. (Rooms at the Mandarin, and the Charles, can be viewed online at the hotels’ websites.)
Both these packages represent a considerable savings off the normal room rates, and are for a limited time only. Reservations must be made by phone before January 25th, 2010. After that date, both hotels will release their reserved rooms back into the general pool, and will honor the rate only on an availability basis. Identify yourself as part of the FDR Suite Restoration when you call to make your reservations. Reservations may be made for one or two nights. (Personally, I recommend coming for two, and enjoying yourself; besides, we all know what winter travel is like, so come early and relax.)
Also, we are still in the process of costing out the Lecture and Gala evening, but it looks like ticket prices will be the following:
Lecture Only: $20 (10 for students)
Lecture and Cocktail Reception Only ($45)
Full Package, including lecture, cocktails, dinner and dancing: $165; seating at the President’s Table with Curtis Roosevelt (limited to 8 on a first come, first served basis) $275
This will be a black-tie event.
I’ll be confirming these prices in the next two weeks, and tickets will go on sale, most likely through the Harvard Box Office, beginning in December. Remember, if you are a Restoration member, there are considerable discounts (and freebies) associated with each membership level, so please consider joining!
That’s all for now. Our next post will get back to FDR scholarship, with Nina Ranalli, one of our student researchers, reporting on her impressions of College life in 1900 through the eyes of a member of the class of 2010.
Curtis Roosevelt to Speak at Harvard’s FDR Memorial Lecture & Dinner
Curtis Roosevelt, FDR’s eldest grandson, will give the Third Annual FDR Memorial Lecture at 4 PM, February 27, 2010, at Adams House. His topic will be his new book, Too Close to the Sun: Growing up in the Shadow of My Grandparents, Franklin and Eleanor. Mr. Roosevelt, now 79, will be traveling from his home in Provence to speak to us. First -grandchild “Buzzie,” as he was known, was quite a celebrity in his own right, having spent a large portion of his formative years in the White House, and this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear FDR history from someone who knew FDR intimately. Dr. Cynthia Koch, Director of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum, will also be joining us for the festivities, and will be introducing Mr. Roosevelt.
Some other plans still in the formulation stage:
• a pre-dinner cocktail reception and book signing with Mr. Roosevelt.
• a live auction to benefit the FDR Suite Foundation.
• a gala dinner dance with the Bo Winiker Orchestra, Boston’s premiere big-band. This year’s theme will be “FDR’s White House. ” The dinner will be based on a State Menu from the 30s, and we’ll be counting up the years musically from 1932-1944, so get out those dancing shoes! Plans call for current Adams House students to join us for dancing from dessert onwards, and we’ll be doing ballroom refresher classes at the House on several nights prior for those of you (like me) who may want to get those foxtrot and swing steps in shape.
For non-resident guests, or for locals who simply would like a romantic weekend in town, I’m arranging two special packages: one at the Charles Hotel (a few blocks from Adams), for those of you who prefer to be nearby, as well as at Boston’s newest luxury hotel, The Mandarin Oriental, for anyone who might want to come a night early, catch a show, shop Newbury Street, or simply indulge in the Mandarin’s 16,000 square foot spa. I hope to have details on all this, with pricing and reservation information, here on the blog within the next two weeks.
So, in short: save the date for a real bit of history! SATURDAY 27 February, 2010, starting at 4 PM
Piano Found! Donors…. still at large.
We’re thrilled to announce we’ve found the perfect piano: a pre-1900 Ivers and Pond, about an hour and half west of Boston:
This old girl is in wonderful shape for 110! Cabinet lovingly restored. Ivories all perfect. Quite a grand dame, in fact. She was played daily by a little old lady (I kid you not) on the North Shore until her death in 1990, and since that time has sat used, and untuned, in West Brookfield, MA. Thanks to the generosity of Harvard Piano services, who’ve donated their time to vet the instrument, we have a clean bill of health and can proceed to purchase. To date, we’ve had pledges amounting to $1250 towards the $4500 total required to buy & transport the piano to Cambridge, as well as to repair some minor damage to the mechanism.
Any takers for the remaining amount? I’ll throw in a free serenade in my best PBS baritone next time we meet for anyone who helps us close the gap.
Annual Membership Perks
A rare survivor: the wooden pull chain toilet in the FDR Suite. The bathroom requires the lion-share of structural repairs: decades of water damage have weakened the surrounding plaster, necessitating a complete renovation to preserve the historic fixtures.
We’re making a major, two-pronged fund-raising drive this month: first, we’re knee-deep in the process of applying for corporate and foundation grants for the Suite, and we’ve had some traction: a $50,000 pledge which I’m hoping to be able to announce publicly sometime later this month. This comes on top of generous donations by Wolf-Gordon, Inc. to recreate and provide historically accurate wallpaper for the suite free of charge; and pro bono legal services to set up Foundation’s tax free status by our friends at Ropes and Gray. Together these two donations come to many tens of thousands of dollars, and we are extremely grateful. Shawmut Construction, in the person of their chief preservationist Carl Jay, has also been extremely generous with architectural and construction advice.
All of this leads to the second part of the equation: our supporters (read: you). I would like to encourage you to help out by becoming annual members of the Restoration. Even with the pledges I just listed, we still have over $200,000 to raise in order to fully fund the Restoration and our planned scholarship efforts. In order to encourage participation, we’ve added a series of incentives to our various membership levels:
|Member (all dues annual)
Members receive individual notices and invitations to private FDR events; 10% discount on all events; special members-only email notifications about all FDR Suite news and progress.
Supporters receive the above, plus 2 free tickets to the lecture portion of the Annual FDR Memorial Lecture & Gala Dinner; preferred seating at all FDR events.
Donors recieve the above, plus two free tickets to the gala dinner portion of the event.
Trustees receive the above, plus one free night (a $200 value) per membership year in the restored FDR Suite (subject to availability, and proof of Harvard affiliation; or by special permission of the Adams House Office or Masters).
Angels receive the above, plus 4 additional nights per membership year.
At the moment, only 5% of you are active financial supporters. Please help to the extent you’re able! To become a member, click here to print out a simple mail-in form. Also, if you’re aware of a private foundation or funding source interested in protecting our cultural heritage, please let me know and we’ll be sure to knock on their door. And for those of you who’ve already given, many thanks!
(IRS Notice: tickets, stays etc. claimed as a benefit of membership valued at more than $75 are considered by the IRS to be quid pro quo donations, and reduce the charitable deduction you may claim on your returns by the value of goods and services received. Values of tickets for events are published in the website; for tax purposes, stays in the Suite are valued at $150/night. For more information, please see this IRS publication.)
Additional Views of the Union
Many of you asked to see a bit more of the Union as FDR knew it, so here are some additional shots I was able to dig up in the Harvard Archives.
First, the basement plan I showed you before, though this time with the complete rotunda area. FDR would have been quite familiar with this space, as not only were his Crimson offices next door, but the rotunda housed the ticket office for the Athletics office, the starting point for those all important football games.
Below, the first floor plan. Several interesting things here. Notice first of all, the separate entrance for ladies. (This by the way, has presented me with a bit of an historical puzzle, because if you go look at the old Union, it appears as if the door was on the other side. Of course I could be looking at it wrong. The facade has been altered several times.)
Where many of us will remember the kitchens and serving area, originally there was a restaurant dining room open to guests and alums, as well as an “athlete’s training table” where specially tailored meals were served for those in the rigor of sport pursuits. (What precisely they ate, given the nutritional mores of the time, I can but imagine: steak and eggs with cod liver oil?) Below, the dining room. The brochure advertising the Union (from which these pictures come) promises “excellent restaurant style fare and service” something “not always easily found in Cambridge.”
Next, a view of the “living room” (McKim’s own term, and an interesting early usage) looking east. The dining room above is on the other side of the wall behind the fireplace at far end. In my day, a large door had been cut through linking the two rooms. Notice the TR chandeliers, as well as the elaborately molded ceiling. I’m trying to remember back, and I seem to recall that the medallions featured a design of interlocked “H’s” and “U’s” This ceiling was completely destroyed when the room was carved up in the late 1990’s – a tremendous architectural loss.
The second floor featured several interesting features: a ladies dining room, another billiard room, and the library and smoking room.
Here’s the library, brand new and only half filled with books, just as FDR would have known it. (He served on the library committee and bought books for the collection.) Notice the statues of Victorian worthies, just visible on the top of each shelf. Later views show that this room had become almost a reliquary of white marble sculpture. It was from here, incidentally, just a few years later, that T.S. Eliot borrowed a volume, Arthur Symons’s, The Symbolist Movement in Literature, which shaped his entire literary career.
The top floor featured guest rooms for visitors (sans private bath, as was the custom of the day) plus the relatively modest homes of the Harvard Monthly and Harvard Advocate.