6/20/16 Belfry Historic Consultants: Dinner with the Lincolns

In the spring of this year, ‘Belfry Historic’ owners/operators, Catherine Buscemi and Laurence Sansone spent an enchanting evening of fine dining, beautiful music and lively conversation, seated between Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. 

The evening was a recreation of a pre-1860’s dinner party, complete with period Lincoln reenactors exchanging polite banter as well as some historically poignant political sparing (Stephen A. Douglas was also in attendance).  ‘Edwards Place Historic Home’ in Springfield, Illinois hosted the gala to commemorate their recent renovation, in which Belfry Historic Consultants played an integral role.  Belfry restored the original wallpapers in the Dining Room, Formal Parlor, Library, and Children’s parlor, working with David Skinner and Sons. Belfry also supplied documented period patterns for the Sitting Room, by David Skinner and Sons, and for the Front Hallway and Back Hallway, by Hamilton Weston.

Belfry Historic Consultants was challenged to restore two document wallpaper fragments, discovered upon the removal of dense layers of subsequent wall treatments.  Through the painstaking efforts and expertise of David Skinner and Sons (one of Belfry Historic’s prestigious wall covering artisans) the patterns were restored and color matched to their original state with exacting attention to detail.

Illustrated clearly in the photos below, the pattern on the dining room fragment was washed out and sun-faded beyond recognition, with most of the original pattern completely lost; or so we at first thought. Suspecting that the original pigments would have left an indelible trace on the original wallpaper ground, we held the paper up to a window to illuminate the paper from behind.  Like magic, the sunlight, which had so greatly contributed to wearing away the original print, revealed instantly the full pattern in all of its original glory!

The formal parlor paper, also expertly recreated by Skinner and Sons, was restored from fragments recovered by Edwards Place by cutting through the wall of a cellar closet!  You can read many more details about the wallpaper recreation, as well as the rest of the very extensive and beautifully executed Edwards Place restoration at the Edwards Place Blog:  http://restoreedwardsplace.blogspot.com/

Our experience working with Edwards Place was an adventure we will never forget, least of all toasting a glass in the resplendence of perfectly reproduced antebellum wall coverings with Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln!


Past and present: Edwards Place left a portion of one Library corner unfinished for comparison between the original wall covering (right) and the completed restoration (left).

A view of the paper installed in the Edwards Place Library

A masterpiece in the making: behind the scenes at ‘David Skinner and Sons'

The second of two wallpapers beautifully recreated by David Skinner and Sons 
for the Edwards Place formal parlor.

Faithful reproduction to the most minute detail:  A close up view of the restored formal parlor wallpaper, 
with an original document fragment superimposed for side-by-side comparison.

A view of the Edwards Place sitting room, adorned with an 1840’s wallpaper patern from David Skinner’s catalogue: Edenderry.


 A beautiful period pattern  by Hamilton Weston, Uppark Trellis ca.1840
was installed in the Front and Back hallways.