Berrien House Sprig Arrives at Washington’s Mount Vernon
May 9, 2016 Savannah, GA --- John Berrien LLC, owner of Savannah’s 1791 Berrien House, announces that George Washington's Mount Vernon has chosen a historic wallpaper pattern from the Berrien House for the restoration of the “Chintz Room,” a bedchamber believed at one point to have been used by Martha Washington's granddaughter, Nelly Custis Lewis
As Amanda Isaac, Associate Curator, explains, “George Washington's Mount Vernon was thrilled to learn about the newly discovered wallpaper, reproduced as "Berrien House Sprig" by Adelphi Paper Hangings. Evidence indicates that George Washington repapered the second floor rooms at Mount Vernon in the late 1780s and 1790s, and at that time, sprig patterns were the popular choice for bed chambers. “
Steve Larson, co-owner of Adelphi Papers, the only US firm that makes hand blocked wallpaper in period styles, remarked, "We came upon the sprig pattern in the course of reproducing another pattern from the same building for Savannah's renowned Davenport House Museum. We liked the sprig pattern so much we prepared the wood blocks before even knowing we had an interested client."
Soon thereafter, however, Mount Vernon appeared. As Amanda explains: “With its American provenance, and its use in an elite home, the Berrien paper exemplified the type that would have been available and possibly chosen by Washington for his home. Working with Adelphi, we chose a custom color way, based on a small, verditer green fragment in our collection. Now installed in the Chintz Room at Mount Vernon, it brings the visual excitement and vivid color of the period to life.” Mount vernon’s press release is here: http://www.mountvernon.org/about/news/article/room-in-mount-vernon-mansion-re-opens-after-major-restoration/. More information on their site is here: http://www.mountvernon.org/the-estate-gardens/the-mansion/the-chintz-room/.
The discovery of the ca. 1797 wallpapers at the Berrien House patterns came to light only recently, having been hidden behind later wall treatment. David Kelley, preservation consultant, has taken painstaking measures to preserve the wallpaper fragments and share them with Adelphi and other experts in the field.
The Berrien House was built in 1791 for Revolutionary War hero John Berrien, who fought at Valley Forge and the Battle of Monmouth and was an original member of the Society of the Cincinnati. George Washington appointed Berrien the Inspector of the Port of Savannah. John's son, John Macpherson Berrien, who also lived in the house, was a Georgia Senator and the Attorney General for Andrew Jackson. The house is now being restored by Andrew Berrien Jones, a Berrien descendant.