7/25/16 Historic Paparazzi – Following The Life and Times of Alva Belmont

It’s not unusual for Belfry Historic to work on more than one project at a Historic location.  However, it is not every day that we follow the personal life of an historic figure as she moved from place to place.

In the 1980’s Belfry Historic (then Classic Revivals) recreated the lampas for the bedroom of Alva Belmont (then Alva Vanderbilt), at the “Marble House” Vanderbilt mansion in Newport.  We were able to research and find the mill that had woven it in 1888, who still maintained records and color samples from the original weaving.  With great attention to period accuracy, Alva’s bedroom lampas was restored back to its original, regal, lavender-ground splendor.

A restored section of Alva’s ‘Marble House’ bedroom Lampas.

Alva slept in this bedroom at Marble House, which she used as a summer vacation retreat with her husband, William Kissam Vanderbilt, until they divorced in March  of 1895.  A year later, in 1896, Alva remarried Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, and  shortly afterwards,  began renovation on Belmont's Newport mansion, Belcourt. 

Belfry Historic Consultants received a call from Belcourt in the beginning of this year and was tasked with reproducing the sun-worn monogramed damask wall coverings which lined the hallways of this great estate.   Through painstaking analysis of the original document fibers, Belfry worked with Gainsborough Silk Weaving Company to recreate the damask with precise color matching and exacting detail.  Adding to that, perfectly reproduced cords and trims which were hand-manufactured by Sevinch Passementerie, the hallway damask was brought back to its original splendor.

We’re not stalking Alva Belmont, we promise!   However, we are very excited to have followed the life and vision of this influential figure as she left her mark on two of the most beautiful homes in Newport, Rhode Island. 

The restored Belcourt damask, juxtaposed with a section of the original sun-worn document.

Watch the video of Catherine Buscemi talking about the restoration process here:

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