INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - December 2, 2004
Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. Hey,
the Stephenson House is being readied for winter as Jim, Carol F. and
the garden crew bed down the vegetable and herb gardens and other members
ready the grounds. Of equal importance, Ol' Henry is getting his fluffy
bed ready for the cold winter days plus keeping very busy tucking away
dried seeds from the garden and nuts and fruit to eat during the long
winter months. Then came Thanksgiving and a break for everyone. Henry
here had a great feast this year. I am not telling where I had dinner,
but that lady sure could cook a great turkey!
Just think of all the work Col. Ben and Lucy had to do when they readied
for winter. Food had to be stored for people and animals and they all
had to be kept warm. Col. Ben raised a lot of hogs and their shelters
had to be in good condition for the winter. And, in 1821 the Stephensons
were spending their first winter in their big new brick home and they
needed lots of firewood - maybe more than they figured. In early December
Jacque Mette delivered many loads of firewood and by the middle of January
he was back with many more loads! Can you imagine the amount of firewood
it took to keep four fireplaces plus the kitchen cooking fireplace going?
Cold weather meant extra work for all!
The other day this old mouse saw Joe, Chuck, George and Tom, the paint
crew, wearing their mover's hats! They were moving stuff around so I perked
up to see what was going on. Well, they were bringing a refrigerator into
'my' house, placing it in a small closet space in the 1845 kitchen where
I used to take naps. Sometime ago those naps ended when Larry put a sink
and a counter in the space. The refrigerator is in there now and it makes
the closet space a neat little kitchen with old-looking doors enclosing
the space. By golly, now there is a kitchen available for parties and
meetings at 'my' house. In case you are wondering, the closet kitchen
is located under the old servants stairs that go to the second floor.
As Cousin Jake's grandkids say, "It is totally cool."
Well, let me tell you, Ray from Buhrmesters and our Joe are two happy
fellows! They have the paint/glaze colors mixed and they are ready to
celebrate. As you know, the old grandpappys Samuel and Ezra told us a
whole lot about Col. Ben and Lucy and their house, but they sure didn't
mention what colors the rooms were painted and wallpapered. Guess that
was a male thing! Thanks goodness there is the Wollenberg paint analysis
of the Stephenson House to tell us about the paint colors used. Just the
other day I heard Joe telling about the 1820 painter who would arrive
to paint from a box of powdered pigments of various colors. These color
pigments came from plants and other things from nature. The painter mixed
linseed oil and turpentine with various color pigments until the paint/glaze
was the color the lady of the house desired. The paint was actually a
glaze that produced more of a washed look versus the look of today's enamels
and deeper colors.
Ray and Joe are mixing up paint colors just like Col. Ben's painter did
in 1820. The big difference is that they have to match the colors Peter
Wollenberg found in the analysis of the 1820 paint - and that takes more
time than just finding colors Lucy liked for her new home. The mixed paint
is actually a glaze that is applied to the millwork in layers of different
colors. A layer of colored glaze is applied and allowed to dry for 24
hours and then the next layer of another color glaze is applied and it
dries for 24 hours. This process is continued until the color selected
is reached. Back then they had only basic color pigments to work with
and it often took several layers of different shades of colors to get
the color the lady of the house desired.
Lucy Stephenson chose a color for the fireplace mantels and complimentary
color paint for the millwork in each room. Ray and Joe experimented with
lots of colors to reach the shades the paint analysis showed for the various
rooms. Lucy chose a rich green called Essex Green for the mantel in the
master bedchamber. Ol' Henry heard Joe say it took three colors and lots
of experimenting to match the complimentary color for the master bedchamber
millwork. The first glaze is light brown, the second off white, and the
third and final glaze is salmon. Well, some of The Friends members saw
a sample of the color and were not certain of its color, some calling
it peachy or light reddish or a light salmon color. They never did settle
on a definite color name. Ol' Henry was peeking from his hidey place and
I really liked the color! The master bedchamber will be wallpapered and
the style of paper will send Joe on another search.
The dining room will also have an Essex Green mantel and light yellow
millwork. The children's bedroom is to be done in quiet, warm colors with
the mantel and millwork a creamy yellow color. The wall colors are yet
to be decided for these rooms. The parlor mantel will be a luscious blue
called Prussian blue. The millwork will be a very light reddish brown
and the walls will probably be a shade leaning toward apricot or salmon.
Again, it took several colors to reach the correct match for this millwork.
In the early 1800's the foyer was the grandest and most gracious room
in a home because it was the first room guests entered. The paint analysis
revealed the millwork in the foyer was painted a shade of white. The wallpaper
must have been a light colored, warm, elegant paper. Henry says, close
your eyes, envision the wallpaper and then add the new stairs painted
white with a beautiful stained, wooden handrail. Beautiful, huh?
Henry here has been peeking at houses and can see that today's homes have
colors a lot different than the fashionable colors in 1820! All the searching
and researching done by Joe show that Col. Ben and Lucy used the most
stylish colors in their new home. Wollenberg told Joe the paint analysis
revealed that over the years, all the owners of the Stephenson House used
the most fashionable colors for each time period.
Oh boy, there is an awesome Christmas wreath on the front door of Col.
Ben's house and candles in the windows! The house is beautiful on the
outside and the inside is aglow with soft candlelight that will be wonderful
as I go to sleep tonight. Thank you Carol, Joe, Donna and everyone else
that helped make 'my' house a home for Christmas.
See ya' later,