Yellow Lodging Room Re-creation and Restoration
Following the 1752 inventory of Stenton recorded after Logan’s death, the bed and window curtains are of a yellow “worsted [wool] damask.” A 1752 portrait of William Penn’s daughter-in-law, Lady Juliana Penn, provided the damask design. The gold color represents “old fustic,” a colorfast reddish gold derived from a South American tree commonly known as dyer's mulberry. Dye analysis of the reverse side of a Logan family quilt revealed old fustic’s chemical signature. The trim is a red and gold diamond or lozenge design; red was a popular complement to yellows at the time. A local blacksmith fabricated iron curtain rods and brass rings, replicating the two sizes of pre-1760 archeological rings excavated at Stenton in 1982.
Although the 1980s treatment of the room exhibited black baseboards and brown chair rails, an extensive paint analysis revealed that all the wooden architectural surfaces in the room were originally painted yellow ochre. Rather than using a ready-made paint, historical painters mixed the paint from hand-ground yellow, red, and brown ochres, combined with titanium (instead of lead) white and linseed oil. The room side of one shutter was scraped to the original finish which helped make the case for replication and offered a swath of color for matching. The new handcrafted finish has a visual depth not achievable with homogenized, machine-made modern paint. The original blue tin-glazed earthenware biblical tiles pop in their yellow ochre frame around the fireplace; James Logan’s maple high chest sits opposite the entry to the room in its original position; and matching upholstered maple side chairs and a reproduction Logan settee (The original settee is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.) complete the room. The dye and paint research combined with the maple furniture suggests that the original intent was a harmonious presentation of golden textiles, golden ochre paint, and golden maple furniture.
This high quality transformation was generously funded by the Richard C. von Hess Foundation, the Coby Foundation, the Leonore Smart Wetherill Fund for Decorative Arts Scholarship at Stenton, the Stenton Restoration Fund, and Hannah Lowell Henderson. Click here for a complete list of contractors and suppliers.
Stenton recently completed an exceptional restoration and re-creation project. The Yellow Lodging Room’s high status was immediately apparent to eighteenth-century visitors because it was the only room furnished with window curtains as well as an impressive bedstead, all hung with a wool damask, a woven design often featuring sprays of flowers and leaves.
Historical, art historical, and scientific research combined with fine craftsmanship has transformed the Yellow Lodging Room. A newly built, fully upholstered flying tester bedstead hangs with its foot-end suspended from original iron hooks in the ceiling, accompanied by matching window curtains. Because no complete Colonial American flying tester bedsteads survive, English examples, miniature bedsteads from English dollhouses, and English paintings and prints offered primary evidence for the bedstead and textile designs. We copied a cornice in the collection at Walnford, a Monmouth County, New Jersey house, owned by another early Philadelphia Quaker mercantile family, which in turn generated the designs for the valances.
Above is a collection of photos documenting the Yellow Lodging Room's re-creation and restoration. Click on the photos to learn more about the process.