Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The 35/15 Photo Project: Conclusion



   After over five weeks, we have finally reached the end.

   108 F.S. Lincoln photos were reshot and published here. That's not including outtakes and finished pictures that I decided not to post. The biggest Sections were Part 14 and 15, with 16 and 19 photo comparisons, respectively. The rest of the sections had 4-9 photos each, an easier amount to go through.

   Based on the photos I’ve come up with, I’m going to talk about some of the things I’ve thought of while working on this.



What was Lincoln looking for in photos?

   F.S. Lincoln specialized in architectural photography, which is one of my favorite kinds of photography. For me, it is conveying the building in the best way possible, giving an overview of a building/room while making it appealing to the eye. Lincoln was very good at this.

   I believe he extensively used a tripod. Once I figured this out, I squatted a lot more to get closer to his camera’s height. He had a professional camera, not some little point-and-shoot. For cameras back then, it was necessary to be on a tripod so the pictures wouldn’t end up blurry. You couldn't immediately check how an image turned out, you had to develop the film later. Better safe than sorry.

   He was very meticulous. He looked at the lines and shadows of how things ran. He was very precise with lining things up. The minute hands in clocks were always pointing at a number. The shadows of one window touched the corner/tip of another.

   He gave the buildings power. They feel impressive. Chimneys seemed to soar. By staging furniture just right, he could make interior rooms feel so much bigger than they were in real life. If he was working with a smaller building, like the Travis House, he would photograph one end of the building. It would make the building look like it continued on past the photograph, adding to its length.

   He also had to work around modern buildings still in town, not getting any anachronisms in his composition. His pictures make Williamsburg look like it is completely restored to its colonial appearance.

   Would Lincoln have taken the same shots in 2015 as he did in 1935? For the most part, no. Most of his shots today have something blocking the focus of the 1935 shots. He was a talented enough photographer that he would have found new angles to work with. That’s what photographers do.

   No pattern of how Lincoln traveled through town became apparent to me. His photos are from 3+ trips to town, so I saw them all mixed up.

   I want to know how he seemed to walk through Colonial Williamsburg in the middle of the day without any cars or people. Today, unless you go in the early morning or late afternoon, it is almost  impossible to get photos devoid of human life.

   Lincoln really had a great photographic eye, and that’s what helped make these pictures famous. He made Colonial Williamsburg stand out. What a grand introduction!



How has CW changed?

   When I first skimmed through the pictures, it was very apparent Williamsburg had changed. I decided to start this project to see what else I could find.

   Gardens and interior décor have changed the most, mostly because it is less expensive and easier to do so than architecture. In the 1930’s, Williamsburg was about being pristine, clean, and beautiful. That’s what Rockefeller wanted, and you don’t say no to who’s footing the bill.

   Every report I’ve read from the 1930’s speaks at how much care the Restoration team took in not going over-the-top, holding back to give a correct view of the 18th century. By the 70’s, curators thought what they created was over-the-top. I really want to see what would happen if the initial Restoration folks let loose. If they were holding back, what was their imagining of the 18th century?

   Plants outside of gardens are interesting. Things seem less maintained, but there seems to be more control. It is less maintained in how town is allowed to look rugged and dirty, the plants more natural. There is more control in where plants can grow or how big they can be. In 1935, plants are growing everywhere. I think it reflected the struggle of the 18th century man with nature. Now, things are cut back. There are imaginary fences as to where plants can or cannot grow. In 2015, man has conquered Mother Nature.

   Visitors have helped shape Williamsburg. Less props are set out, less antiques are in arms reach of guests. To be fair, a lot less people visited Williamsburg in 1935 than in 2015. A lot less wear-and-tear happened on the buildings and the antiques used.

   What happened to all the chandeliers? Where did they all go? I got tired of the Chandelier charade.

   Formal gardens have come and gone. There are still remaining 1930’s gardens, some which are not accurate for Williamsburg. On the other hand, Williamsburg had a large part to do with the Colonial Revival movement in America and has the most Colonial Revival gardens in America. In that light, these gardens are historic, just not 18th century historic. If you have a third hand, there’s also what the public wants as well. Some of these gardens are endowed by donors. People enjoy and want these gardens here. How do we balance what the public wants while still giving an accurate representation of Williamsburg?

   These questions can be applied to not just gardens, but every interpretation decision in town. These are complex issues that require understanding of every detail to make the best possible choice as to how to proceed.

   Any change eventually boils down to money. But if our goal is to continue to be considered as a living history museum instead of a ‘Historical Disneyland’ which critics love to say, these problems need to be addressed at some point.

   (I’ve enjoyed reading Ed Chappell's thoughts on the 1981 reinterpretation of the Palace and Elizabeth Cushing’s 2014 book "Arthur A. Shurcliff: Design, Preservation, and the Creation of the Colonial Williamsburg Landscape")



How the project went?

   This was my first Then-and-Now photo series, so there was a bit of naivety in some of the goals. It always bothered me how shadows never lined up in now pictures. I learned it is hard enough figuring out what angle you need to be at, how high, are you too left, is that gutter-hole lining up to where it needs to be? I could have finished shooting in a week, maybe even a day, if I hadn’t decided to match shadows. And retaking photos would have been much easier as well. Retaking photos was rarely done, so I think shadows hurt the project more in that respect.

Drawing in my notebook to help identify shadow times

   What made the research portion difficult was there isn’t much information easily available on 20th century Williamsburg. CW Research Reports helped to tell a building’s complete history… up until the point when they were written. Some haven’t been updated for decades, and that does not help figuring out what happened inbetween great important changes. The reports missed things like the second partial demolition of the John Coke Office building and sometimes basic facts about what rooms were used for.

   Another difficulty was the Rockefeller's Omeka collection. In the Williamsburg books I had, I kept finding random Lincoln photos that were not part of the online collection. Either the library did not upload them all, or they never got the complete collection. Another complication were the captions that went along with pictures. Quite a few incorrectly labeled where a picture was. While good for a starting-off point, I learned not to rely on what the Omeka said.

   I really should have said I was going to be writing about 20th century history more than 18th century history. I figured that 18th century information is out there and is more accessible. I personally love learning about the Restoration. It was a revolutionary time in preservation history. Here come these men with the will and the means to bring a town back to the 18th century. Who does that??

   I'm a slow worker, and it takes a while to get my thoughts down. When I was working full-time, it could take approximately 2 days to write up a blog. There were quite a few days where I was scrambling the night before to finish. If I had days off, I could usually crank out a blog in one day. The largest one, Part 15, took 3 days with no work days.

   This project became my life. It’s going to be strange without having to work on it. I was focused on angles and research instead of enjoying the sights. I wish I had focused on the ride, letting Lincoln take me around Williamsburg. Maybe one day I will walk a little slower with him.

A typical research day for my bed



What did I learn?

   I never saw this as only a then-and-now photo series. I saw it as an opportunity to understand the how’s and why’s around town. I know a lot more about Colonial Williamsburg now, just maybe not about 18th century Williamsburg. I did learn house names though, which helped when someone asks about a building I don't work at. Sometimes I do catch myself calling houses by their former names, i.e. “Semple” always comes to my mind before “William Finnie” does.

   I learned how to spell Botetourt. That was a major achievement.

   I received a better understanding that Williamsburg is still a real town. While Williamsburg might stay in the same years, the town is still evolving. It's still changing and breathing.

   I forced myself to look at topics I never showed any interest in before. I never knew words like “boxwood” or “andirons.” I never cared about garden designs, it just looked pretty. I made it matter to me, and I hope that a little bit of that came out of the project.



Future Project Goals

   If I were to continue this project, I would look into F.S. Lincoln more, learn about his life and when he actually visited Williamsburg. I would find his same camera model, then shoot some comparison shots with it. I would dig through archives to discover more of the little cracks of information I left off. I used a lot of secondary sources, especially the CW research reports and guidebooks. While extremely helpful, I would love to dive into more primary sources. I would expand this project’s format to maybe other mediums (exhibit, gallery, book, etc), or maybe introduce digital then-and-now photo comparison sliders.



Ideas for Williamsburg

   While I have no power towards changing anything, I’ll run a little "If I Ran the Zoo" theoretical and suggest some things that I would do with Williamsburg.

   In town, there is nothing about W.A.R. Goodwin, the father of the Restoration. Rockefeller takes center stage with his lovely Bassett Hall. Goodwin should have something in town chronicling his life.

   If this summer at the Archibald Blair dig site proves, archaeology is still popular. A lot of people wondered what we were doing, some asking “What are you planting there?” I think there should be more explanation of archaeology in town. Right now, it is delegated to a wall in the Art Museums on the reconstruction of the Coffeehouse.

   I think there should be a combined Archaeological and Restoration Museum. We can speak about W.A.R. Goodwin and our unique history. We can have exhibits on how we excavated, what we have found, and what it all means. The ENTIRE Williamsburg story is the story of the American life, the American Dream, and patriotism.

   Here are my top three locations that would be a good space a museum in town:
  1. The Ludwell-Paradise House. It would be a symbolic home for telling the story of the Restoration, as it was the first building bought for the Restoration. It has already served as an exhibit/gallery space, so it has precedence. It would be in the middle of town in a dead space between Chowning’s and the Prentis Store. With a name with Paradise, how could you go wrong?

    Ludwell-Paradise House

  2. The Robert Carter House. It’s a big, beautiful, original building right next to the Governor’s Palace. And it is empty. A museum would be a great opportunity in such a prominent location, and would not involve kicking out current tenants like the other two options would.

    Robert Carter House

  3. The Elkanah Deane House. I only submit this because its garden was one of the most famous Colonial Revival gardens in Williamsburg, which is now pretty much nothing. Using the Deane House as a museum, the Garden could be brought back to its former glory. Signage could be placed explaining while this is not an accurate 18th century representation, it depicts Williamsburg’s own history and its influence of the Colonial Revival period in America.

Elkanah Deane House

Elkanah Deane's Garden, 2015
Here is a picture of it from better days.

Conclusion of the Conclusion

   You never know what you will find at Williamsburg. You go on a historic house tour in your hometown, you get a good run-down of the history and lots of fun facts. They’re scraping for anything to stand out. One of Williamsburg’s problems is there is a townful of stories. What do you tell? Which do you pick to showcase the Williamsburg/Colonial/Revolutionary experience? What will stick with people? There is always more to find out here.

   I wanted to share a Williamsburg story that isn’t told much, yet interested me the most. I hope you have enjoyed the journey as much as I had. Thank you for joining me on it.


Governor's Palace Front Gate towards the Palace Green

View the whole 35/15 Project:
Introduction
Part 1 - College of William and Mary 
Part 2 - Merchants Square
Part 3 - Buildings that Move
Part 4 - Market Square
Part 5 - Ludwell-Paradise
Part 6 - Queen Street to Botetourt Street
Part 7 - Raleigh Tavern
Part 8 - Paints
Part 9 - Botetourt Street to the Capitol Area
Part 10 - Capitol
Part 11 - No Longer Here
Part 12 - Francis and Nicholson Streets
Part 13 - Garden Edition
Part 14 - The Governor's Palace Gardens
Part 15 - Inside the Governor's Palace
Conclusion (You are currently viewing this one)

Bonus 35/15 Posts:
35/15: A Dessert Order
35/15: Life in Williamsburg in 1935
35/15: Governor's Palace Wallpaper

Monday, September 28, 2015

35/15: Governor's Palace Wallpaper

What is 35/15? Read the Introduction first.


   So I said I would talk more about the Chinese wallpaper in the Palace's Supper Room.

   First of all, you need to look at this room in color, in gorgeous color, look at that! If you want to see moving images of this room, it appears in the "Williamsburg Restored" Colonial Williamsburg Archive Collection DVD.

   I was floored when I saw how this room looked in 1935. I had never known it looked like that. It was over-the-top, in-your-face, and amazing. I fell in love it. But why was it gone?

   In 1981, the Palace was transformed from Colonial Revival period rooms to an authentic portrayal of the Governor's home. At that time, they came to the conclusion that this type of wallpaper would not have been here. Its inclusion in the Palace was more a push from its donor, R.T.H. Halsey of the Metropolitan Museum, as well as a 'might-have-been' mentality. Later research revealed wallpaper like this was rarely used in 18th century American homes. When it was, it was in more private rooms of the house. So it was taken down, stabilized, then stored in the Department of Collections.

   I had to see it. I scheduled an appointment with Kate Teiken of Collections to go see it. I was greeted with a small sample size of it. Rough guesstimation, it was about 3'x6'. A 1'x5' piece of the Palace's Study wallpaper hung above it. This is all the Foundation still has. The rest was deassessioned, auctioned off, deemed unnecessary. The piece only remains more as a record of the ownership. I had built up this wallpaper in my head, so I was a little let down by the reality.

   The wallpaper is so detailed. The piece the Foundation has is from a higher section of the flowering tree. All of the birds, butterflies, and other animals are fully-colored. The branches are white with a heavy shadow. The tree's leaves and flowers are white with an outline of black, the leaves' lines thinner than the flowers. Everything looks hand painted. The light blue of the background looks a bit dingy with age.

   It was sad, yet still beautiful. Being only one small piece, it lost its wow factor. There are no plans to ever show this piece off. "Williamsburg Restored," states the wallpaper is 18th century. Kate said it was actually not, which was part of the reason why it was deassessioned.

   As a bonus, I also was able to see the Upper Middle Room's gilded leather wallpaper. I had not looked into it as much. It was leather on a wall, big deal. Oh, I was completely wrong. It is beautiful. Stamped with a flower pattern, covered in gold and gray paint. It is a treasure. The other side is a different story. Here you can see the pains it took to remove it from the wall. It looks torn up and in terrible condition. It really was time to take it down. Since it is 18th century, all the pieces are still kept in the Colonial Williamsburg Collections.



   I still wonder about the Supper Room wallpaper, where it ended up. Since it was auctioned off, its buyer is a mystery. If anyone knows where it is, I would love to know the rest of its story. (2017 Update: I found out a little more of this wallpaper's story. Read about it in 35/15: Governor's Palace Wallpaper II)



THANK YOU
A special thank you goes to Kate Teiken for taking me through. It truly was an absolute BLAST! I was nerding out the whole time I was there. Thanks for making my day!


Sources Used:
Architectural Report on the Palace Refurnishing Project


View the whole 35/15 Project:
Introduction
Part 1 - College of William and Mary 
Part 2 - Merchants Square
Part 3 - Buildings that Move
Part 4 - Market Square
Part 5 - Ludwell-Paradise
Part 6 - Queen Street to Botetourt Street
Part 7 - Raleigh Tavern
Part 8 - Paints
Part 9 - Botetourt Street to the Capitol Area
Part 10 - Capitol
Part 11 - No Longer Here
Part 12 - Francis and Nicholson Streets
Part 13 - Garden Edition
Part 14 - The Governor's Palace Gardens
Part 15 - Inside the Governor's Palace
Conclusion 

Bonus 35/15 Posts:
35/15: A Dessert Order
35/15: Life in Williamsburg in 1935
35/15: Governor's Palace Wallpaper (You are currently viewing this one)
35/15: Governor's Palace Wallpaper II

35/15 Part 15 - Inside the Palace

What is 35/15? Read the Introduction first.

(Note: All 1935 photographs are on the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library Omeka site. They are viewable by clicking the link provided, scrolling to the bottom of the page, then clicking the image.)


   Here we are. The final photo part. Inside the Palace.

   The Governor's Palace was originally built from 1706 to 1722. As the years went on and the project (and taxpayer cost) continued to grow longer, people sarcastically started calling the mansion a "palace." The name stuck. A later addition of the Ballroom wing was added to the back of the house sometime between 1749 and 1751.

   Seven royal governors lived here, the last two, which we will talk about more, were Lord Botetourt and Lord Dunmore. After Dunmore fled, Virginia's first two elected governors lived here, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. In 1780, the Virginia government moved to Richmond, leaving the Palace behind. After sitting empty for a bit of time, it became a hospital for American soldiers. In December 1781, the main building of the Palace caught on fire and burned down. The advance buildings and other outbuildings survived until the Civil War, where they were taken apart for their bricks.

   When the site was acquired for the Restoration, many buildings were on the property. Notably, two schools were in the Palace's front yard, one a new 1921 high school. Roads and power lines crossed the property. A power plant and railroad station were located at the back of the property. Everything had to be demolished.

   Excavation work started in 1930. Information from the foundations, artifacts found, plans drawn by Thomas Jefferson, and the Bodliean Plate led to an accurate reconstruction of the Palace. The Palace opened to the public during Garden Week, April 23, 1934.

   The Palace was first interpreted as period rooms, not entirely conveying one particular resident governor. It was based off the Palace inventories of Governor Fauquier and Botetourt, with a little bit of "might have been" interpretations as well. Like the rest of Williamsburg, it was unintentionally styled in what is now called the Colonial Revival style. It was a fantastical romanticism of what 18th century life was actually like.

   In 1981, the Palace interiors got a complete refresh. Using the detailed Botetourt inventory, taken of the Palace at the time of his death, an accurate portrayal of all Palace life was created. Botetourt resided in the reconstructed Palace 25 years (much longer than his actual 2 years).

   When the interpretation of town advanced some years to "Revolutionary City," consisting of the events leading up to and during the Revolutionary War, the Governor became Lord Dunmore. No complete inventory remained from his tenure, though he did make a Losses of War declaration of some of the things he left at the Palace when he fled. Dunmore also bought some of former Governor Fauquier's furnishings, so his items are based off of some of Fauquier's. 

   And that's where we are today. Let's look around!


The Governor's Palace


1935:

2015:

Governor's Palace, July 28, 2015, 9:49am

   [Same picture, but the one in the Architectural Record was cropped right before tree's trunk on the right]

   This view has largely remained unchanged. Unlike the Capitol, the Palace has retained good sightlines. Lincoln framed a quite a few of his shots around town under tree branches. I am happy that one of his shots still retains a similar view.

   The front gates and balcony railing are now painted white. The extra exterior doors have been removed. Bushes by the front wall and house are gone. Old trees in the front courtyard have mostly disappeared except for one, while the trees of the Palace Gardens adds a new backdrop for the main house. There are less posts around, it looks like they were used to deter parking on pedestrian paths and grasses.

   There are now walkways to benches by the front wall. For many decades, this was where cannons stood. You can still see the stones where the cannons' wheels and trails rested. 


East Advance Building


1935:

2015:



   The last time we were in here, we were looking at its paint

   Any tour of the Governor's Palace begins in one of these rooms. Typically, visitors begin in the West Advance building, but pictured here is the East Advance Building. The East Advance is used for escorted groups and special programs.

In the 18th century, these buildings would have been used for extra Palace services, offices, and/or servants' quarters. In 1935, it appears to be the governor's office or meeting room. For its current usage, furnishings now consist of chairs.

   The Portrait you can see in 2015 is of Governor Spotswood, the Governor who was involved prominently in the Palace's construction, the over-budget costs, and its completion.

   One paint change, the fireplace border under the mantle has gone from black to white.


The Hall

   (I'm going to help you out during this section. Since we aren't physically going on a tour of the Palace while reading this (Unless you are, which would be rude to the interpreters working there who know more than I do), I'm throwing in this map guide. It is not to scale, but it'll help you keep your bearings.)

We are starting out in the Hall, the front entryway of the Governor's Palace.


1935:

2015:

Hall Fireplace, 2015

   The walnut paneling and the marble floor are due to finding evidence of both in the Palace excavation. The original marble floor was believed to be the first in Virgina. Also found in the excavation were pieces of the fireplace marble, which were incorporated into the reconstructed one.

   The most major change are the arms on the wall. This is to symbolize the power of the crown. While there is no record of how many arms were used during Botetourt's time, from 1981-2006 there were "180 muskets, 223 pistols, no broad or small swords and 186 curved-blade sabers," on the walls. There is documentation for how many arms were there after Dunmore left in 1775. Colonists inventoried "230 muskets, 18 incomplete pistols, 158 broadswords and 134 small swords." The arms displays now reflect that number (Governor's Palace 2006 Closing Summary).

   The coat of arms was above the fireplace until 2006. The glass globe was added in 2006. The chair has been changed out. The red and white checked fabric is actually a cover over the actual fabric. These are taken off during the winter time. Please watch this video and go to 2:39 to see how beautiful the chairs in the Palace are.


   Aaaaaaaaaand this is the only interior Palace picture used in the December 1935 Architectural Record. A better representation of the Palace appeared in the November 1936 Architectural Record. Why so few in 1935? Even though the Palace had already opened, the 1935 AR mentioned that the Palace interiors were still incomplete. It is possible they wanted to fill out the rooms a bit more before they did a spread on the inside.

   Guess we'll have to wait for the 36/16 Photo Project. We're all done here!

   I'm totally joking. If we are throwing a finale, we are doing it right. Let's visit some more rooms in the Palace.


 Little Dining Room / Butler's Pantry


1935:

2015:

Butler's Pantry, 2015

   It was here where the first test to recreate an authentic Palace experience was attempted. It was originally interpreted as the Governor's family dining room, showcasing early 18th century styles. According to Botetourt's inventory (a document 1930's Restoration architects had), it suggests this was more of a butler's pantry. In 1976, curators made the change and premiered it during that year's Antiques Forum. People pretty much had a fit over the changes. "There was so much fuss from friends and supporters, who feared we were about systematically to dismantle a Taj Mahal, that [CW President] Humelsine put the breaks on further Palace changes for the time being," recalled Graham Hood, chief curator during the 1981 Palace refit (Palace Days). After more researching and persuading, the Palace project was approved.

   Most of the decor in here has changed. The fireplace andirons and fireback have remained the same, as has the wall paneling and the rest of the fireplace.

Another view of the Butler's Pantry, 2015



1935:

2015:

Fireplace in the Butler's Pantry, 2015

   The reinterpretations of the Palace are more on changing furniture and repainting than about changing architectural features.

   Pieces of the marble fireplace are original, fitted together with new pieces.




 Parlor

1935:

2015:

Palace Parlor, 2015

   This has always been the Parlor! What a relief. Its furnishings have all been changed out.

   In 2015, it looks like the Governor was writing correspondences. A slightly messy look gives the effect that the house is lived-in. If the 1935 chess scene was recreated today, no doubt the pieces would be moved around to make it look like two people were in the middle of a match and had just stepped away.



1935:

2015:

Palace Parlor Fireplace, 2015

   This was reconstructed, based on fragments found and a similar mantle located at Eltham Hall near London, England.


Palace Staircase


1935:

2015:

Palace Staircase, 2015

   The elaborate stairs of the Palace. Don't you wish you had these in your house? I do.

   New handrails have been added for visitors, with hidden lights on the bottom to better illuminate the staircase. Most people don't realize how dark houses can get using only window light.

Muskets, Buckets, and Posts at the Stairs, 2015

    More muskets are featured throughout the staircase and halls. The shelf the guns were resting upon is gone. Now a row of chairs are there. Also added is another glass globe and buckets.


Southeast Bedchamber


1935:

2015:

Palace Bedchamber, 2015

   Pre-1981, the second floor of the Palace was interpreted as Governor Botetourt had it, so the Botetourt party up here went for 72 years. Since he was a bachelor, and his bedchamber was the southwest room, this was most likely a guest room. Since Dunmore moved in the Palace, it has been... a guest room.

   The Bed has changed out, the new bed's back facing the south wall instead of the east. No more elaborate curtains and window treatments, no side table, no armchair. A smaller carpet rest beside the bed. (The room isn't entirely empty, there are more items in the corner of the room you cannot see. For example, I was carefully playing Twister with a wash basin to get this perspective. We succeeded in not touching).



1935:

2015:

Southeast Bedchamber Fireplace Detail, 2015


 Upper Middle Room

1935:

2015:

Upper Middle Room, 2015

   This is the Upper Middle Room. This was Lord Botetourt's audience room, where he would meet with people to discuss matters. In Lord Dunmore's household, Lady Dunmore has laid claim to this room. This is her dressing/sitting room.

   The walls in 1935 were covered in actual 18th century gilted leather wallpaper. It was put here because of a 1710 proposal "That the great Room in the second story be furnished with gilt Leather hangings. 16 chairs of the same" (Dec 1935 AR). It lasted through each refit, finally retiring in 2011 due to deterioration. The walls were adorned with red damask fabric with gold borders in 2013.

   The floor is less shiny, as has been par for the course here. The furnishings and chandelier have changed here. Carpet is placed here seasonally, though not in the summer months, to protect it from being walked on during hot and humid times.


Southwest Bedroom


1935:

2015:


   There is no other F.S. Lincoln picture on the Rockefeller Library Omeka of this room. Judging by Lincoln's other fireplace photos, he always took shots of the whole room as well. I wouldn't be surprised if there was one, just lost for the time being. It's a fairly important room. This was Botetourt's bedchamber, and now Lord and Lady Dunmore's. 

  I like how it looks like the same fire tool is resting against the tile work here. The Dutch tile work is based of some that were found during the excavation.


Study


1935:

2015:

The Study, 2015

   Here is Botetourt's study/library. In his inventory, no bookshelf is listed in his furnishings, yet all of his books were here. Nothing was put here in 1934. In 1981, they constructed a built-in bookshelf, which wouldn't have been counted as furniture because it was part of the wall and unmovable. Now, this room is Lord Dunmore's Office.

    The floor is now carpeted, and the furnishings are all different.The Chinese wallpaper was removed in 1981. Botetourt's inventory listed twenty prints hanging in the Study, which would have covered up such fanciful wallpaper. So would the new bookcase. With no actual evidence supporting it being there, it was decided the space did not have this kind of wallpaper.


Ball Room


1935:

2015:

Palace Ballroom, 2015

   It's time to dance! Here we are in the Palace Ballroom, the biggest room in all of 18th century Williamsburg. Since it was built at a later time than the rest of the house, the Ballroom and Supper Room are both based on later architectural periods and styles.

   It is a lot busier in here. Shiny floors gave way in 1981 to the geometric (almost trippy) carpet. The Portraits of Queen Charlotte and King George III grace this doorway leading to the Supper Room.

   The paint in here has always been blue. In the 1930's, it was painted on the plaster walls, so it was not as vibrant. Starting 1981, the walls were papered, which helped make that blue pop. Gold borders were added around the room in 2006.

Palace Ballroom Chandeliers, 2015

   The Chandeliers have been changed out. The 1935 chandeliers were still hanging here in 2001 when they were all cleaned, and then were removed in 2006. 


   The harpsichord has also been changed out. The 1935 one is still in the Museum's collection (most likely at the Art Museums). The one currently in the Ballroom looks to be this one.



1935:

2015:

Ballroom Pediment, 2015

   This is the doorway leading back to the main part of the house. The "GR" stands for Georgius Rex, King George II, the ruler when this part of the Palace was built.


 Supper Room


1935:

2015:


Supper Room, 2015

   This is looking towards the southwest. The doors pictured go through to the Ballroom. Here, they were showing off the Chinese influence on the English world. The ornamentation in here is a mix of Neo-classical and Chinese styles. The late David Brinkley, a well-known TV news anchor and CW Board of Trustee, called this room "the most beautiful room in America" (Palace Days).

   The iconic wallpaper was taken down in 1981. I will talk more about the wallpaper here. In 1981, the room was interpreted as a room undergoing repairs, as it was in 1770. Little to nothing was in here. Its carpet was not present, listed in Botetourt's inventory as rolled up on the third floor. The walls were whitewashed. With Dunmore's arrival, the walls were re-papered and painted green with added gold borders. The carpet was "brought downstairs" to cover the floor.

   Chinese influence still remains. The flourishes in the moulding and door pediments remain. The chandelier looks to be the same, just without the hurricane glass or added jewels.

   Pictured is one of the warming stoves used to heat the Supper Room and Ballroom. They were installed in 1981. Fun Fact #1: The modern pipe doesn't go entirely through the wall. The Supper Room exhaust pipe goes through the plaster but stops before the brick. The illusion that it does go through is carried out through an exterior exhaust pipe attached to the side of the building. Same with the Ballroom. Fun Fact #2: Both warming stoves used to face sideways. In 2006, they were both rotated to their present orientation based on instructions in Botetourt's inventory as to how to install these stoves. Facing the stoves this way also makes it easier to fill it with coal.



1935:

2015:

Supper Room Door Pediment, 2015

   Both pediments are the same in this room, so I do not know which door was photographed. The doors photographed in 2015 are the ones heading into the Ballroom.



1935:

2015:

Supper Room Window Detail, 2015

   Again, with every window having this detail, I am not sure which window was used in 1935. I chose the one that was lit the best.



Bonus: 3rd Floor Window


1935:

2015:

Palace Green, July 10, 2015, 11:56am

   Here's a view of the Palace Green from the center third floor window. In 1935, you could see a bit farther. Now the view ends with trees. Look at those baby Catalpas! In the courtyard below, it seems like there are some bushes that are no longer present in the current garden design.

   That 1935 Carriage? I brought these pictures to the stable/carriage house. No one recognized it. I was able to learn that it is a late 19th-early 20th century style coach, being either a Coupe or a Brougham. I am assuming once Williamsburg got their hands on some 18th century carriages, they retired this one.




   As you exit the Palace, our last stop, you exhale. Out of relief? Exhaustion? From the adrenaline due to history running through your veins? What a walk we've had through time, the 18th, 20th, and 21st centuries all at once.
   Everything will be wrapped up in the Conclusion.



THANK YOU
A big thank you goes out to the Palace staff. Thank you so much for all the help. I could not have done this without your cooperation and help. A great big thank you goes to Colleen Prosser for allowing me permission to photograph quickly between tours.  


Sources Used:
"The Restoration of Colonial Williamsburg" Architectural Record, December 1935
"Williamsburg Before and After" Book by George Humphrey Yetter, 1988
Interview with Emily Doherty
Interview with Dan Hard
Fact corrections by Colleen Prosser


View the whole 35/15 Project:
Introduction
Part 1 - College of William and Mary 
Part 2 - Merchants Square
Part 3 - Buildings that Move
Part 4 - Market Square
Part 5 - Ludwell-Paradise
Part 6 - Queen Street to Botetourt Street
Part 7 - Raleigh Tavern
Part 8 - Paints
Part 9 - Botetourt Street to the Capitol Area
Part 10 - Capitol
Part 11 - No Longer Here
Part 12 - Francis and Nicholson Streets
Part 13 - Garden Edition
Part 14 - The Governor's Palace Gardens
Part 15 - Inside the Governor's Palace (You are currently viewing this one)
Conclusion

Bonus 35/15 Posts:
35/15: A Dessert Order
35/15: Life in Williamsburg in 1935
35/15: Governor's Palace Wallpaper
35/15: Governor's Palace Wallpaper II

Friday, September 25, 2015

35/15 Part 14 - The Palace Gardens

What is 35/15? Read the Introduction first.

(Note: All 1935 photographs are on the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library Omeka site. They are viewable by clicking the link provided, scrolling to the bottom of the page, then clicking the image.)


   We have now been invited to the Governor's Home and Gardens. The house is still not ready, but we are allowed to walk about the gardens until the time they are so.

   The Governor's Palace Gardens you see today are an abbreviated version of the 18th century ones. The governor's lands would have gone all the way to the York River. They would not have been all fancy, formal gardens. Some would be farm land, others used for hunting.

   Arthur A. Shurcliff, Colonial Williamsburg's first Landscape Architect, designed ten distinct areas around the gardens. They opened along with the Palace in April 23, 1934 during Garden Week. W.A.R Goodwin claimed the property was the pièce de résistance of the Restoration.


Palace Green


1935:

2015:

Palace Green, September 2015 [Shadows not lined up,
quick guess it was taken in the morning 8-10am]

   The Palace Green is an unofficial part of the Governor's Palace, focusing the viewer's gaze to where the power and authority of the colony is located. (That is, unless you're on the opposite end. Then your gaze is towards some trees. I digress...)

   This shot is lined up correctly, the Catalpa trees have just grown upwards and outwards. Almost all of these trees are the same trees from 1935.

   As imported by Governor Gooch in 1737 and marked on the Frenchmen's Map of 1782, two rows of Catalpa trees were here in the 18th century. These trees currently here were planted for the Restoration.


Palace Kitchen


1935:

2015:

Palace Kitchen, August 16, 2015

   Like most kitchens in the 18th century, the Palace Kitchen is a separate building from the main house. It is located on the west service courtyard.

   The kitchen today looks less like a set, and more like an actual working kitchen. That's mostly because it is. Every day it is open, they make and show off the meals the Governor would be eating. 

   The room layout has changed. It looks like visitors in 1935 could walk all around the whole room. Nowadays, they are allowed to stand (or sit on one bench) in one half of the room, while the work happens on the other side. There are more shelves, a longer table, and a new oven on the left side of the main one. The chairs have been removed. Chairs get in the way.

Although it seems to be a common item associated with Williamsburg, there is a scarcity of butter churns in town. The only one I am aware of is at the Coopers, as an example of their craft (they make buckets, barrels, tubs, etc).


Out the Kitchen Window


1935:
"Kitchen Garden Seen from Kitchen"

Out the Kitchen window, 1935 [Not on Rockefeller Omeka]

2015:

Palace Kitchen Window, August 16, 2015, 3:35pm

   At one time, you could see Scotland Path from here. With more trees of varying sizes, that is no longer possible. Plants for meals are still growing in the kitchen gardens.

   The window in 1935 does not have the vent that is present in 2015. 


Kitchen Garden Gate


1935:
"Outbuilding in Kitchen Garden of Palace"

Ladies at Kitchen Gardens, 1935
[Not on Rockefeller Omeka]

2015:

Kitchen Terraces, August 16, 2015, 2:41pm

   Here we've gone down the hill from Kitchen Gardens and come across a gate into the formal section of the gardens. Two hostesses/interpreters greet us there. 

   The path is wider, less curving. A tree dominates the sky and sunlight here. The fence boards are not as close together/different, painted a tar color (They are painted white on the other side).

   While both sets of ladies and their gowns are gorgeous, our 18th century styles (and knowledge) have changed. Learn about the changes in Colonial Williamsburg clothing HERE and HERE


Kitchen Garden Fence


1935:
"Palace Kitchen and Scullery Seen from Canal"

Kitchen Garden, 1935 [Not on Rockefeller Omeka]

2015:

Kitchen Terraces, August 16, 2015, 3:37pm

   Here we are, a few steps away from the previous shot, looking towards the Kitchen and the Scullery. It is a lot less bushy right here, but the tree seems to compensate.

Unobstructed view of the Kitchen and Scullery, 2015

   Oak trees now tower over the Kitchen and Scullery. Shurcliff planted these trees "to give necessary shade without which, during the intense heat of midsummer, the yards would be uncomfortable" (Landscape Architecture). I have worked in that yard in the summer, and those trees make a huge difference compared to the other gate.


The Terraces


1935:

2015:

Garden Terraces, August 16th, 2015, 2:49pm

   The terraces are an original garden feature that survived from the 18th century till the Restoration. It was preserved under a "jungle" of trees, as Shurcliff described it.

   In 1935, trees were planted on the terraces because "grass could not be made to grow because of the hot sun" (Landscape Architecture). Those trees are now gone, but the ones on the canal have grown to make this section of the walk shaded.

   The benches still line the lowest tier pretty faithfully. In 1935, it looks like there is nothing beyond the top terrace. Now, everything has grown. The path's edges aren't as orderly. The rope fence along the path is to prevent visitors from falling into the canal due to that small section's steepness.


Terrace Steps


1935:

2015:

Garden Terrace Stairs, August 16th, 2015, 2:55pm

    Here we are at the terrace's tiered steps. Pieces of the original steps were found while excavating, allowing for an accurate reproduction of the tread, rise, and run of the steps.

   The garden surrounding this area was called a "falling garden." Currently, there is some plant growing on the upper level, but grass has taken over the lower levels. The bushes and trees are gone from all levels. What is towering above our interpreter are trees and bushes from the Revolutionary Soldiers' Burial Grounds and the Box Garden.


The Canal


1935:

2015:

Canal, August 15, 2015, 3:00pm

   Ah, the peaceful canal. This is another original part of the garden. We are on the north side, just west of the bridge, looking southeast. According to 1930's blueprints, there used to be 3 permanent benches in a semi-circle behind where I am standing here. This would have been their view. It's a great vantage point.

   No, the Canal has not been filled in and covered in grass. There is water somewhere still in there.

   In other changes, in 1935 you could see the spire of Bruton Parish Church peeking through the treetops. This is no longer an option. Also in 1935, there was a boat in the canal. Shurcliff constructed a boat landing on the far side of the fish pond. With regards to the modern visitor, I can see how having this display would become a bad idea quickly.


Revolutionary Soldiers' Burying Ground


1935:

2015:

Burying Ground, August 15, 2015, 3:07pm

   This is where Revolutionary War soldiers' graves were found. They were believed to be from when the Governor's Palace served as a hospital from 1780 until it burned in 1781. Restoration workers were searching for a north-south path indicated by the Frenchmen's Map when they started to uncover shallow graves. They eventually found 156 bodies. By the layout of the bodies, it was inferred a North-South and an East-West path crossed this land.

   With the finished design of the garden, this area was hedged off to leave the ground undisturbed and to honor those buried there. A willow tree was planted in the middle, where the paths had crossed and no bodies were buried.

   Today, the willow tree is gone. New trees have been planted in the hedges, bordering the ground. The hedges themselves are much taller, actually creating a barrier which you cannot see the open field except for a few openings. The Ice Mound is not as visible. You can barely see the brick arched opening leading to the maze.


Gardens


1935:

2015:

Palace Gardens, August 15, 2015, 3:09pm

   To orient, we are looking east towards the Ballroom Garden West Gate. To the right is the Box Garden. To the left is the Burial Grounds.

   Well, the bushes have come in nicely here! Trees are now in the hedges instead of crepe myrtles in the midst of the box garden.

   Here's a less obstructed view of the main path:

Less obstructed view of the Palace Garden path, 2015

   The bench is still there, now green!

   The gates heading into the formal garden are actually based off decorative ironwork they found while excavating the grounds.

   Here is the plaque marking the Revolutionary Soldiers' Burying Ground.

Burying Ground Plaque, 2015

   In 1935, there seems to be color on the plaque. This is now gone.


Palace Formal Garden


1935:

2015:

   Finally, we are in the formal Ballroom Gardens. Here we find the marriage of the human touch and the natural world.

   This shot is no longer possible. The window this was shot from is in a 3rd floor room used for radio technology, so only authorized personnel are allowed. I hope you will accept these substitutions of the area.


   Most of the garden here has retained its structure. This part of the garden is based off what can be seen in the Bodleian Plate, so it is 100% accurate as to what was here in the 18th century!

   The bushes in the corners of the diamonds' plots all gone. From what I can tell, they existed at least till the 1990's. Why are some taller than the others? They mark the corners of the greater square made by the four smaller ones. The decorative lead urns in the middle of the "greater squares" are now gone. They moved some time before 1947.


   The diamond hedges are wider. They have more style, with raised corners and angled sides. Nothing grows in the middle of them.


Under an Arbor


1935:

2015:

West Wall of Ballroom Gardens, August 16, 2015, 6:39pm

   Here we are, under a now arbor-less plant arch. The arbor used to support the plant. Now the plant supports itself in the same shape.

   Remember the lead urns? The four urns replaced the lead vases that used to be at these stairs and on the other side arbor stairs. In 1935, there were 12 lead vases in the garden. Now, there are 10 along the main path from the back of the palace to the North Lawn. I don't know why the change occurred. It looks like the move was either to free up path space, or some of the vases were damaged so the urns were moved to replace them.

   The hedge in front of the hostess of 1935 is now gone. A weird tree-bush grows in the hedged garden behind the interpreter in 2015. 

Other changes:
  • The path is as wide as the whole stair now. 
  • Ropes are up to tell you where to walk.
  • The giant tree in the background in 1935 was an Elm tree planted long before the Restoration, but was incorporated into the final design of the gardens. It is no longer here. 
  • A chimney now comes out of the Ballroom. It goes to a warming machine added to the Palace during its 1981 reinterpretation.



Under the East Arbor


1935:

2015:

East Wall, September 14, 2015
[Did not try to line shadows up]

   Now at the other arched plant path. Here you can easier see that there is no arbor supporting the plant anymore. 

   It is no longer possible to see the side of the East Advance Building, but now we get peeks of the back of the Palace and the side of the ballroom addition.

   A new tree happily grows into the path.


Ballroom Garden


1935:

2015:

Behind the Ballroom, August 16, 2015, 6:46pm

   "Twelve large redcedars [sic] flank the Ballroom and extend north into the North Garden. Their position and their number were determined by the wall spaces between the windows of the ballroom and by the corresponding positions of the northernly diamond hedge patterns derived from the Bodleian engraving. These trees correspond in position to the clipped trees often set out in English Gardens dating from the eighteenth century to flank important approaches; it is said they symbolize the Twelve Apostles, but the number twelve here was determined independently of this characteristic English symbolism."
- Shurcliff, "The Gardens of the Governor's Palace," Landscape Architecture, January 1937 

   Regardless of whether or not they were intended to be known as such, the twelve hedges are known as The Apostles today. 

   Let's digest this shot. The Apostles have become wide and short. They now almost touch the diamond hedges. In 1935, a path ran between the Apostles and the diamonds. Now, that path no longer exists. I had thought the hostess on the right was next to the Apostle behind her, but looking at it now, she's right on the corner of the path intersection. The hostess on the left was farther left, but we cheated so a little bit of our interpreter could be seen.

  I know the Apostles have been replaced at least once before. They also were cut down a few feet this summer, leading to their tops to look ragged/dead.

   The lead vase is still there, hiding behind the Apostle.


Back of the Ball Room Wing


1935:

2015:

Palace Behind, August 15, 2015, 6:52pm

   So, I waited for the right shadows. As the sun started setting, the edges of the golden coat of arms started to glow... and then the sun was blocked by trees. Even before it could have reached its mark, the trees completely blocked out the back of the Palace from sunlight.

Big Tree Shadow. Never say I didn't try.

   Other than that, has anything changed? The paint on the gable was a darker color than the trim and molding. Now, they are the same color. A new rail leads down the stairs for anyone who needs it. The bushes have grown taller here. No growing ivy on the porch. The benches and the porch railing are different colors now.


Closer to the Back of the Ball Room Wing


1935:

2015:

Gable Detail, August 15, 2015, 6:54pm

   Just a closer picture of the door.


   The Governor sends word we are allowed inside his home. Let's go!



THANK YOU
Thank you to Ms. Nicole, Ms. Emily, Ms. Justice, Ms. Amy, Mr. Tyler, and Ms. Tiffany for being great models! Thank you to the Palace for being awesome.
Thank you to Food Lion for the flowers. I mean, I paid you, so technically you should be thanking me for being a last-minute flower patron of your store.

Sources Used:
"The Restoration of Colonial Williamsburg" Architectural Record, December 1935
"Behold Williamsburg" Book by Samuel Chamberlin, 1947
"The Gardens of the Governor's Palace," Landscape Architecture, January 1937
"Arthur A. Shurcliff: Design, Preservation, and the Creation of the Colonial Williamsburg Landscape," Book by Elizabeth Hope Cushing, 2014
"Williamsburg Before and After" Book by George Humphrey Yetter, 1988
Colonial Williamsburg: Palace Green


View the whole 35/15 Project:
Introduction
Part 1 - College of William and Mary 
Part 2 - Merchants Square
Part 3 - Buildings that Move
Part 4 - Market Square
Part 5 - Ludwell-Paradise
Part 6 - Queen Street to Botetourt Street
Part 7 - Raleigh Tavern
Part 8 - Paints
Part 9 - Botetourt Street to the Capitol Area
Part 10 - Capitol
Part 11 - No Longer Here
Part 12 - Francis and Nicholson Streets
Part 13 - Garden Edition
Part 14 - The Governor's Palace Gardens (You are currently viewing this one)
Part 15 - Inside the Governor's Palace
Conclusion

Bonus 35/15 Posts:
35/15: A Dessert Order
35/15: Life in Williamsburg in 1935
35/15: Governor's Palace Wallpaper
35/15: Governor's Palace Wallpaper II