TheNorthernLight

/November2008

13

forseveralyearsafter1818andasquareandcom-
passessymbolisincorporatedononewall—above
themantel—betweenthebranchesofatree.

TheAmosBristolTaverninTreadwell,NY,also

boastsMasonicwalldecorationfromtheearly
1800s.LiketheTowneHouseinCharlton,Tread-
well’sMasonsmetinthetavern’sballroom.

Inherrecentbook,AmericanWallStenciling,

AnnEckertBrowndescribesaroundelontheceil-
ingoftheroom,whichhasasquareandcompasses
symbolatitscenter.BrownnotesthatAurora
LodgeNo.227metinthisspacefrom1813-34
andsuggeststhattheMasonicsymbolwasadded
duringthistime,ratherthanatanearliertime
whentherestofthewallstencilingwasdone.

WhiletheEatonHouse,theTowneHouseand

theBristolTavernhavemoresubtleMasonicdeco-
rationontheirwalls,theElishaGilbertHousein
NewLebanon,NY,iselaboratelydecoratedwith
numerouscolorfulMasonicsymbols.

Thehousewasbuiltin1794byElishaGilbert,

whoplannedforhisthirdfloortobedevotedto
meetingsofUnityLodge,oneoftheearliestlodges
inthestate.

CharteredinSeptember1788,thelodgemetat

Gilbert’shousefrom1795to1850.Inreturn,ac-
cordingtotradition,thelodgeagreedtopayhim
$800.

NinaFletcherLittle,whodescribedthedecora-

tioninherbook,AmericanDecorativeWallPainting

1700-1850,believedthatthepaintingwasdonein
theearly1800s.

Theroom’swallsarepaintedbluewithdesigns

inbuffandbrownthatincludeKingSolomon’s
Temple,abeehive,drapedcurtains,acolumnwith
globeontop,theark,tablets,andanarchwayover
thecheckeredpavement.

ChangingTastes

Duringthemid-andlate1800s,tasteschanged.

Wallpaperbecamecheapertoproduceand,thus,
cheapertopurchase.Italsobecameeasiertoapply,
comparedtoearlierpapersthatneededplaster
wallstodryforsixto12monthsbeforebeingcov-
ered.

Withpreviousbarriersofpriceandtimere-

moved,wallpaperbecamebothfashionableand
popular.AmericansoftheVictorianerahadawide
varietyofwallpaperstochoosefromatmanyprice
levels.

Amongthesechoiceswerewallpapersthatin-

cludedMasonicsymbolismjustlikethewallpaint-
ingsdescribedabove.

Oneofthesepapersfromtheearly1800s,was

probablymanufacturedinBostonandwasfoundin
St.Paul’sLodgeofGroton,MA.

Itshowsanarchwayatoptwocolumns.Drapery

isswaggedbelowthearchaboveacentralsquare
andcompassessymbol.

ThesymbolisflankedbytwomenwearingMa-

sonicaprons.Thelightbluegroundwithpink,
blue,whiteandblackprintingissimilartothe
paletteseeninmanyofthepaintedmuralsand
stenciledborders.

Also,likethepaintedwalls,thepapercouldbe

usedinlodgesorinprivatehomestoremindmen
oftheirMasoniclessons.

Thisparticularpaperwasreproducedinthe

1970sbyWaterhouseWallhangingsofBoston.
Theoriginal1800ssampleisnowinthecollection
ofHistoricNewEngland.

Today,wevaluethesehistoricwallcoverings,

whetherpainted,pastedorstenciled,forwhatthey
canteachusaboutthepast.But,theyalsoofferin-
spirationformoderndecoration.

Ifyouhaveasampleofhistoricwallpaper,or

otherobjects,thatyouwouldliketodonatetothe
NationalHeritageMuseumcollection,please
contact

AimeeNewell,SeniorCuratorof

Collectionsatanewell@monh.orgor
781-457-4144.

NL

— all-seeing eye,
Salem Towne House, 
Old Sturbridge Village.

ceiling painting