Naumkeag (Stockbridge, MA)

Naumkeag, the country house of lawyer and diplomat Joseph H. Choate, was built by Stanford White of the firm McKim, Mead and White in 1886. Its dining room ceiling paper was a "tea-box paper" and was replaced in 1940, and when it came time to replace it again, the non-profit Trustees of Reservations turned to WRNA.

"Tea-box papers" consist of small overlapping rectangles of a subdued silver-colored metallic leaf. They are actually made of tin and tend to deteriorate after about 40 years.

The leaf paper was found after a lengthy search among showrooms. A suitable genuine leaf paper was located through the Roger Arlington showroom at the D & D building in New York City. The variously colored patterns of leaf provide a play of light which is subtle and attractive.

The ceiling was washed carefully and buffered, then lined with an acidfree lining paper. The leaf paper was hung in August, 1998 by Barry Blanchard, Howard Hamm and Robert Kelly. A total of 12 full sheets and 4 partial panels were hung. Each full panel measured 10' long x 30" wide. Each small rectangle of leaf measured 7.5" wide x 12" high; thus there were 40 individual sheets of "silver" leaf put up on each panel.

As installed, the panels were off-set, working from a center line, in order to heighten the effect of randomness. After installation the ceiling was pinstriped around the perimeter with three stripes of various widths by others, using the same pinholes as were used for the previous installations in 1886 and 1940.