My apologies for not posting any news for the last several weeks, but these have been busy, heady days. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we’ve been able to begin the process of furnishing the Suite, slowing rolling back the years to May, 1904.
I thought you might be interested in seeing some of the progress to date:
Above: the view of the study towards the French doors. To the far right, a wonderful brass period oil lamp (now electrified for safety reasons, as all our lamps are, but in FDR’s time, kerosene, as the electric outlet had yet to be invented) sitting coyly on a period Gothic revival parlor table. The small antique settee, purchased at a local flea market for $400 as a temporary holder piece in lieu of a daybed, turns out to be a John Jelliff!, estimated to be worth ten times that amount. To the left of this remarkable find, a period marble topped sofa table, (quite rare for the time) and the two new Morris Chairs handcrafted by Lary Shaffer this past summer. On the mantel, medals on museum loan from the kind family of Chester Robinson, ’04 (that’s 1904 for all you newbies); along with an elaborate 1900 adamantine coffer clock (with a marvelously deep, resonant chime, bong, bong!) by Seth Thomas. Another nickel-plated oil lamp sits to the far left, and the dual gas/electric light fixtures, just restored from awful fluorescents, shine with their original Edison bulbs. The walls are still carrying their temporary coat of paint, as we’ve had yet another hiccup with the re-created wall paper. Once that’s resolved, we’ll start hanging pictures. Period draperies are also in development. The ornate little table between the windows is actually the sole piece of furniture in the Suite we can situate with absolute certainty: “The book-case turned out to be just ½ inch too wide for the space, & it was the narrowest I could get. I have got a beautiful table & it looks very well between the two front windows.” FDR to Sara, 2.18.01. Ours looks “very well” too, don’t you think?
Here’s the view looking the other direction. Our recently restored 1899 Ivers & Pond piano (“Our piano is coming tomorrow, $40 for the year which is $10 off the regular price. It is a very nice one and of good tone.” FDR to Sara 11.23.00) carries a collection of period prints, including a lovely Piranesi view of the Arch of Septimius Severus in Rome. Below the FDR Memorial plaque, dedicated by Eleanor in 1960, a Victorian glass fronted bookcase, which just arrived last week, slowly fills with period books and memorabilia.
The SW corner of “FDR’s” bedroom as seen from the door to the study. (We actually don’t know who slept where, so we’ve assigned FDR to the south bedroom, which is slightly bigger but lacks a closet, and Lathrop to the north, principally because the furniture selected to match their rooms’ narrative works better that way.) In the photo above, a late 19th century railroad trunk sits next to a burled oak Eastlake marble-topped commode, part of a three piece set, including a spectacular bed, purchased with funds granted by the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust. The walls are now covered in pale green silk, thanks to the generosity of Kari and Li Chung Pei, ’72
A vintage hand crocheted runner protects the top of the piano; the nickel plated oil lamp illuminates an original Gibson girl portrait, made iconic by illustrator Charles Dana Gibson. A figural “Turks Turban” meerschaum (one of a growing collection of period pipes) rests on its side to the left of FDR’s famous “dog tobacco jar,” which he specifically requested Sara bring with her from Hyde Park in the spring of 1902. (No comments there!)
How this for a great E-bay find? A fantastic small oil on board signed R. H. Bowman, born in 1884 in New Harbor, Bristol Maine. Price tag: $20! This will eventually be hung in FDR’s bedroom, along with other nautically inspired memorabilia to echo FDR’s love of the sea. The decor of Lathrop’s room, done in dark gold silk wallpaper, again the gift of the Li Chung Pei ’72 and Kari Pei, will revolve around “Jake’s” fondness for hunting, horses, and football.
And lest we forget to be grateful, a reminder of how things were two short years ago – 2008, compared to 2010:
Our most heartfelt thanks to all of you who continue to aid our restoration efforts!