How the Play “Hamilton” Led to Some Historic Drapery Inspiration
We recently returned from a summer driving trip across New York, Ontario Canada, Vermont, and the Adirondacks. What a terrific vacation! And so reminiscent of driving trips of my youth when my parents would pack up the 5 of us in August and drive cross-country somewhere for 3 weeks to explore the beautiful landscape, see the sights and appreciate the great history of the United States; recharging our batteries before we headed back to school for more formal learning. Although I must say that I learned plenty on those trips!
Historic Window Treatments at the Schuyler Mansion
So, a bit about historic window treatments. When I moved to Massachusetts in 2001, I fully embraced the amazing history of the Georgian and Federal period architecture all around me, and I began researching and creating historical window treatments. I enjoyed giving talks to interior design audiences and writing for trade magazines on this subject. This led to a significant amount of interior design work for me at the historic Wayside Inn in Sudbury, as well as for clients who appreciated and desired the classic period-correct look. As an engineer and perpetual student, I found several crucial texts from the period (written by upholsterers, for drapery was their domain back then as well) for construction of these intricate treatments.
Here are some photos of the parlor from the Schuyler house, the most formal room for entertaining guests, and actually the location of Eliza and Alexander Hamilton’s wedding ceremony. You can see the drapery panels are in the “Italian strung” design where a cord runs between rings sewn to the back of each panel, allowing the drawing up of the drapery.
Below is a photo from the outside of the Nathaniel Hawthorne “House of Seven Gables” in Salem, MA which also demonstrates the cord design of Italian stringing.
Finally, here is a photo of a similar treatment at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, taken about 7 years ago. You can see that over the years I have dragged my daughter to lots of historic places, and now she takes me! (And for the record, that is not me next to my daughter, it’s the docent at Old Sturbridge Village in period costume).
I am indeed fortunate to live in an area with spectacular history and plenty of homes and historic buildings to explore all year round. I’m also looking forward to seeing the “Hamilton” musical myself when it comes to Boston in 2018. Now that we played the musical’s soundtrack in the car non-stop the whole vacation, I know all the songs (but wouldn’t dare actually sing…since I am not a great singer). I even cracked a history book upon our return to learn more of the story with that Aaron Burr guy…grrr…...
Anyway, this post shows that design inspiration comes from the most unlikely places! I hope that you found some inspiration, peace, and tranquility yourself this summer!
Barbara Phillips, interior designer and owner of Center Stage Interior Designs, has delivered impeccable window treatments and design services to both residential and commercial clients in Massachusetts since 2001.