Work has definitely begun on the Rapp Houses. The old electric is being removed and new electric is being installed. Two “old” doors are being closed up, and two “new” doors are being opened up, or we should actually say “re-opened.” A wall has been straightened and unkeyed plaster is being torn out. See the following photographs for more information. Next week we’ll get a glimpse into a hidden staircase that is being uncovered. Stay tuned! But first, let’s see some new wallpaper that has just been printed.
Every time the folks at Adelphi send another block-printed sample of wallpaper, we hang it on the doors of the Archives to look at it. The last two pieces that we received a few weeks ago completed the set of wallpaper for two hallways. Above on the left is the wallpaper and border for the south hallway of the George Rapp House – the “family” hallway. On the right is the wallpaper and border for the main hallway of the George Rapp House – the “public” hallway. All four pieces were reproduced by Laura McCoy Designs from papers in the historic collection at Old Economy Village.
The Frederick Rapp hall closet door above on the right as we’ve known it for years.
Now the door has been removed and is in the process of being closed up. Research has shown that the room behind this door was originally a pantry for the kitchen to the left. John Duss, Harmony Society Trustee from 1892 until 1903, lived in the house and had this room turned into a bathroom after 1895. The bathroom was removed during the 1960s restoration, when the room was changed to serve as a closet and smaller bathroom for the staff. This function will remain, but it will now be interpreted as a pantry.
The above is a picture of John Duss’s bathroom, taken January 15, 1962.
Above, the door to the pantry was re-opened between the kitchen and pantry. This door was walled up in the Duss era to make the bathroom. Notice the pipes for his sink and tub. These pipes have been cut and removed since this picture was taken. The room that will now be interpreted as Frederick Rapp’s kitchen was most recently interpreted as his dining room. This room also served as John Duss’s kitchen while he lived in the house in the first half of the 20th century.
We discovered 2 sets of Roman numerals chiseled into the wood door frame between the kitchen and pantry. Harmonist carpenters used this method to mark pieces that they prefabricated. Roman numerals are evident all throughout Old Economy’s Granary because the walls weren’t plastered.
Plaster coming down in the dining room
Here is the room of mystery. This is the ceiling of the George Rapp Dining Room. Plaster was removed where it had become unkeyed. In other words, the plaster was no longer attached to the lath – the strips of wood that you see all over the ceiling. Unfortunately, or fortunately, whichever the case may be, the entire ceiling had to come down. This photograph faces north. The north part of the room has always been a mystery because the four 1820s floor plans for the house (none of which were as-built) all show a somewhat curved staircase carved out of it. The current straight staircase in the hallway to the north was there as far back as 1895 when Elise Mercur Wagner drew it on a floor plan. The only evidence we’ve seen of the curved staircase is the patchy plaster on that part of the room. Well, now we’ve found evidence. Since we’re still investigating, you’ll have to wait till next week to see what we’ve found!
The plaster came down a little bit too easily for our comfort on the east wall of the George Rapp Dining Room where the plaster had a large bulge in it. This photo shows the exposed support for the massive summer beam in the center of the ceiling.
And more plaster coming down in the Trustees Room
In the Trustees Room, or George Rapp’s Parlor, some plaster had to be removed. It exposed the construction methods for the slanted ceiling area above the fireplace (which supports the second floor fireplace hearth), the thick brick wall on the south side of the room, the area above the fireplace cabinet, and a hidden stove pipe hole lined with stoneware. The interesting thing about this is that the only picture that we have of a stove in this room shows it venting above the fireplace. Removal of the wallpaper revealed the graffiti all over the walls including pictures of “Killroy was here.”
The huge east-west summer beam in the center of the ceiling was exposed, showing the way the joists were tied in.
Another door change, and a wall too
The above photograph shows how we have seen the George Rapp sitting room until recently. The kitchen can be seen through the door, and Gertrude Rapp’s bedroom is on the right, adjoining this room with the curved wall.
Above, the door from the George Rapp sitting room to the pantry was just re-opened. It was walled up during the 1960s restoration.
The door to the kitchen is being walled up to “remove the heat of the kitchen” from the family sitting room. The wall to Gertrude Rapp’s room is also being straightened. This wall was built in the 1960s to restore it to the way architect Charles Stotz believed it to be. All four of the original floor plans from the 1820s show this as a straight wall. The wall was removed during Trustee John Duss’s time to create one large dining room.
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