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Wallpaper Scholar
65 South Prospect St.
Lee, MA 01238

(413) 243-3489
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White House (Washington, DC)

In January of 1995, Barry, Jim, and I papered the Blue Room under the direction of William Seale. The work consisted of prepcoating the walls, installing an acid-free lining paper, 60 rolls of sidewall paper, 50 linear feet of border at the chairrail height, and over 100 feet of a drapery frieze at the top of an 18 foot ceiling line.

For articles see:

  • The Washington Post, Feb. 2, 1995

  • USA Today, Feb. 16, 1995

  • People Magazine, Mar. 6, 1995

  • American Painting Contractor, Jul. 1995

  • Painting and Wallcovering Contractor, Jul/Aug, 1995

  • Wallpaper History Society Review, 1996 (Manchester, England)

Contact: Bill Allman, Curator, White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C., 20500, tel. 202-456-2550

Jim, Barry, and I returned to the White House for a replacement of the sidewall some ten years later. During this operation the elaborate swag drapery was left in place. Razor cuts were made along the base of the drapery, and the sidewall and lower border replaced.

At about the same time, we installed an Adelphi blockprint in the Lincoln Bedroom. The complete re-do involved gilded window cornices, swagged wool draperies, marble fireplace and handsewn carpet. For the first time in many years this important guest room, which contains furnishings chosen by Mary Todd Lincoln, was decorated in a true mid-19th century style, namely, over the top.

The adjacent sitting room was papered with screenprints from Peter Fasano. The wallpapers (background texture, border, and corner blocks) are based on the carpet design and make up panels of various sizes. The design of the paneling was a collaboration with then First Lady Laura Bush. Installers for this phase included me, Lynn Parker, and Steve Breckbill. Another project was the ante-room to the Vermeil Room, where a Chinese scenic was installed by myself and Barry the following year.

A consulting project at the house decided the fate of one of the scenics that were donated quite a long time ago, during the Kennedy years. That effort also resulted in the re-installation of the 18th century Chinese scenic removed from Ashburnham House (UK) at Blair House (US).

The altered version of Scenic America (known as The War of Independence) had been installed in the private dining room on the second floor of the White House but had a fitful existence (some presidents took it down only to have their successor put it back up).

Once again, during the Clinton administration, the scenic became the subject of a planned removal. A paper conservator from the National Park Service brought in a carpet steamer and we tested several areas of the room for wet and dry stripping. However, the way it was put up and its fragile condition suggested strongly that if if were stripped the scenic would be severely compromised, if not destroyed. I suggested that if the walls of this semi-oval room were firred out and upholstered instead, the scenic could be preserved and at the same time covered with new decoration. This was not a new idea. The oval walls of the Blue Room had been battened and upholstered with blue silk during the Jackie Kennedy renovations. This idea was accepted.

 


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