Since the Rapp Houses restoration has been going on (a lot) longer than this blog, we’re going to play catch-up. The following photographs tell the story of design work and choices that have been done along the way, as well as some structural investigation and work in the houses that has been going on. There is much more of this to come. The categories of photographs below are in somewhat of the timeline in which they occurred.
The project that was initially begun in 2002 was to write an historic furnishing plan for the Rapp Houses and to reproduce as much of the wallpaper as possible. This work was generously funded by the Richard C. von Hess Foundation. The plan was written by Gail Caskey Winkler of LCA Associates in Philadelphia in 2006. The following are wallpaper artwork and choices that have been done with this funding and with capital funding. Wallpaper is being reproduced from scraps found on the walls during the 1960s restoration and on band boxes in the historic collection. The artwork is being done by Laura McCoy Designs of New Hampshire, and the wallpaper is being printed by Adelphi Paper Hangings of Sharon Springs, New York.
Band boxes were made from pasteboard (somewhat like modern cardboard), wallpaper, and newspapers, and were used to hold such items as trinkets, hats, collars and cuffs (a.k.a. bands), and ribbons. Many of the band boxes in our collection were made by members of the Harmony Society.
All of the colors of the original wallpapers were compared with paint chips to determine which colors will be used to block print the wallpapers. This was made very difficult due to the dirt and grime, the layers of wallpaper that had been pasted over them through the years, and sometimes varnish applied on the bandboxes. 6/12/2008
As each wallpaper is reproduced, we compare the artist’s proof with the original wallpaper. This border for the George Rapp parlor was very fragmented, and the artist had to “piece it back together.” 10/10/2012
Since the collection did not contain enough borders for all that was needed in the houses, we had to choose some purchased historical borders from Adelphi’s running line. This one will be modified for the Frederick Rapp bedroom and sitting room. In this photograph are an original piece of carpet that will be reproduced for the two rooms, the original wallpaper from the collection next to the reproduction wallpaper for Frederick’s sitting room, and the original wallpaper on the band box and the artist’s proof for Frederick’s bedroom. 3/5/2013
The yellow purchased wallpaper border will be used in George Rapp’s bedroom. Also seen here are the original carpet and the wallpaper on the band box, both of which will be reproduced for the room, as well as the reproduction checked fabric for the bedstead and window curtains. 3/5/2013
The purchased wallpaper border for George Rapp’s office with the bandbox from the collection and artist’s proof of the wallpaper which will also be used in the room. 4/14/2013
Bed hangings and window coverings
Until now, the beds on display in the Rapp Houses have not had proper bed hangings. These are the textiles that hang from the rail at the top of a four-poster bed. The new ones will be correctly produced to be able to enclose the person sleeping to keep out drafts and to keep the warmth in. Curtains will match the bed hangings.
Colors for Frederick Rapp’s bedroom window coverings and bed hangings had to be chosen for the reproduction fabric and lining. The original Harmonist textile is the navy and white check fabric, the reproduction navy color is on the diamond swatch, and the pattern for the bed curtains is circled in the lower right. Swatches for the possible color of the bed hanging lining are in the forefront. Also in the photograph are the artist’s proof of the wallpaper on the band box and the original carpet which will be reproduced for his bedroom and sitting room with carpet color yarn swatches attached to the paper in front. The reproduction fabric is being made by Family Heirloom Weavers of Red Lion, Pennsylvania. The bed hangings and window treatments are being made by Bert Laudenslager of Whitemarsh Interiors of Philadelphia. 10/12/2012
Colors for the bed hangings and window coverings in George Rapp’s bedroom had to be chosen for the reproduction fabric. In this picture are the original bed hanging, the fabric of which is being reproduced by Fret Fabrics of New York, and the original carpet that will be reproduced for his room and office. The wallpaper on the band box will be reproduced for the room as well. 10/12/2012
Moving Collections Out
Most of the collections were packed and moved in the summer and fall of 2012 while tours still came through the building. In the beginning of December that year the houses were closed and B.R. Howard & Associates, a conservation company from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, moved the large objects – mostly furniture and paintings – out of the houses and into storage on-site.
Conservator Brian Howard (on the ladder) and his crew moved all of the large furnishings out of the houses or crated them within the building. The painting, Christ Healing the Sick by Bass Otis, was a real challenge because of its weight, size, and the fact that it hangs on the original hooks from the 1820s. 12/5/2012
Furnishings from the Rapp Houses lie in wait at the Robertson House on site. 12/27/2012
Old Economy Village curator, Sarah Buffington cleans the quilt that was on George Rapp’s bed, preparing it for storage. 2/4/2013
The houses stand empty, waiting for work to begin. Frederick Rapp’s office, 2/20/2013
The east wall of the George Rapp House has sagged over the years, and we wanted to see if there were any problems with the supportive sill. Floorboards were removed, revealing the stone foundations. East wall of Trustee’s Room/Formal Parlor, 12/18/2012
Floor Cloths for the Hallways
A floor cloth is a piece of canvas that has been painted over and over and nailed down to the floor to protect it. It was a “cheaper” way than carpeting to protect the floors in high traffic areas such as hallways. Patterns were often painted on the floor cloths.
Comparing encaustic floor tiles with other parts of the Frederick Rapp hallway to determine colors for a floor cloth. Encaustic tiles were ceramic tiles used during the Victorian era to produce inlaid floor designs. Floor cloths often mimicked these designs. In this picture, the wallpaper is a new reproduction of a piece in the collection, the border is an artist’s proof, the yarn color swatch is for the Venetian carpet on the stairs, and the floor cloth pattern is the one by the yellow sticky note. 3/6/2013
Looking at encaustic floor tiles to determine floor cloth colors for the George Rapp main hallway. In this photograph, the wallpaper is a reproduction of a piece in the collection, the border is the original on the bandbox, the red and black color swatch is for the stair carpet, and the diamonds are the pattern for the floor cloth. 3/6/2013
The wallpaper that has been in the house until recently was reproduced for the Rapp Houses in the 1960s and 1970s by Scalamandre in New York. This wallpaper had been on the walls since that time and was a definite challenge to remove. The wallpaper was removed in June and July 2013 in order to see what plaster repairs had to be made to the walls.
Members of Church Restoration remove wallpaper and paste from the walls. Frederick Rapp’s office, looking into the hallway, 6/18/2013
The central hallway in the George Rapp House has two stories of continuous wallpaper by the stairs. Wallpaper removal was very tricky with this location. 7/11/2013
No original Harmonist carpeting remains in the collections of Old Economy Village. However, we do have other carpets from the time period that have been donated over the years. The Langhorne Carpet Company of Penndel, Pennsylvania is reproducing three carpets for the houses. Venetian stair carpeting is being woven by Family Heirloom Weavers of Red Lion, Pennsylvania.
Comparing the paper pattern on the right with the original carpet on the left. This reproduction carpet will be installed in George Rapp’s bedroom and office. Other areas that will receive carpeting include George’s parlor and dining room and Frederick Rapp’s bedroom and sitting room. 7/31/2013
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