Adena (Chillicothe, Ohio)
Adena mansion getting a "new" look
By Melissa Kossler
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH, Monday August 26, 2002
When the Adena mansion opens next year, the historical home's "new" look will be nearly 200 years old. Technology and some luck have helped curators decorate two room much as they were when Thomas Worthington owned the house. Worthington, Ohio's first U.S. Senator and sixth governor, lived in the house from 1807 to '27. During restoration of the house for Ohio's bicentennial next year, workers discovered a strip of original wallpaper in Worthington's study. "I was sitting in the next room and I heard them start yipping," said Mary Anne Brown, site manager at Adena. "I went dashing in."
Ohio Historical Society curator Cheryl Lugg said she knew immediately that it would be possible to re-create the wallpaper. The geometric pattern was hand-stamped onto rolls of paper just as it would have been during the 1800's. An analysis of paint chips revealed that the room's woodwork was painted turquoise the match the wallpaper. Lugg expects the colors and patterns to surprise the public when the house reopens March 1. "It challenges people's ideas of tastes in the 19th century," Lugg said. "It's bold and bright."
The drawing room also features new colors. A rose and green wallpaper replaces the muted cream and gray covering that used to hang there. Historians found clues to that paper in Adena's archives. The paper is based on a black-and-white photo of the room and recollections of Worthington descendants who were interviewed during a 1953 restoration of the home.
Brown said she hopes visitors will enjoy the new colors and the detective work that went into choosing them. The how-tos of the work will be explained at a $3 million visitors center on the Adena property. Exhibits in the center will show how Worthington helped Ohio become a state. The state is spending $6.65 million to restore the mansion, plant gardens and build the center. Adena will be a focal point of the bicentennial, Brown said. "It's one of only a few buildings left associated with one of the founders of Ohio." she said.
--the end --
Adena, in the town of Chillicothe, Ohio, was designed by Benjamin H. Latrobe, architect for parts of the the U.S. Capitol and the White House. It is one of his few surviving domestic designs. It was built for Thomas Worthington, Ohio's first senator and the state's sixth governor. The house is built of locally quarried sandstone and has a main 2-story block and perpendicular wings. It was completed in 1807, at which time Chillicothe was the capital of Ohio. Adena has a beautiful setting amidst the rolling foothills of the northern reaches of the Appalachian range.
During research phase of the project, another version of the pinwheel pattern was found at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware. It had been used as a cover for a daybook and the date (1806) confirms that the pattern was in use at about the time Adena was first papered.
Bob and Mary Anne Brown (staff for OHS) look over the reproduction "pinwheel" pattern produced by Adelphi Paperhangings.
Staff from the Ohio Historical Society are uncovering woodwork and plaster to reveal an early 19th century pinwheel wallpaper pattern. This pattern, like the drapery paper, was recreated by Laura McCoy Designs, blockprinted on handjoined paper by Adelphi Paper Hangings, and installed by WRNA in the summer of 2002.
This photo was taken in about 1900 and shows a drapery wallpaper listed in an invoice of 1808. The paper shown here was printed back East and sent to Adena by a Baltimore paperhangings manufactory. It is this pattern that was recreated and hung in the summer of 2002.
The Adena wallpaper project included the Parlor and the Anteroom, which were papered with Adelphi blockprints. It also included a large 2-story hallway which was bordered with Brunschwig & Fils handprints and papered with a plain handjoined rag paper. A special feature was the border work, which was all handtrimmed, using shears. This mantle in the lower hall, bordered by Barry Blanchard, is a good example of how the handtrimming complements the original 1807 woodwork of this important home.
Back to top of page