The Georgia Trust


Dining Room
Images by Walter Elliott

Living Room

Restoration of Hay House Dining and Living Rooms Receives Award

Historic Macon Foundation (HMF) presented The Georgia Trust an Interior Restoration Award for Hay House's newly restored Dining and Living Rooms at HMF's Annual Meeting on May 3, 2011. This award celebrates the conclusion of several years of research, and coordination among numerous board members, restoration committee members, contractors and conservators. Receiving the award were Bonnie C. Dowling, Chair of the Restoration Committee; Diane Lewis, Board Chair 2011-12; Heidi Ream, Board Chair 2010-11; Tom Wight, Advisor; and Katey Brown, Director of Hay House. The project was funded by donations given during the Capital Campaign for the Restoration and Endowment of Hay House, a major fundraising effort that concluded in 2007 with $7.1 million raised.

The Dining Room was restored as closely as possible to the late Johnston era (c.1870-90), using a photograph dated 1893 as a primary document. Susan Buck, an internationally renowned analyst of historic paint, conducted paint studies in 2009 that yielded a colorful palette including turquoise, claret, and peach. The plasterwork, faux bois (woodgraining), and hand-painted friezes were all recreated using a combination of conservation, infill and recreation by International Fine Arts Conservation Studio (IFACS), based in Atlanta, during the summer of 2010. After four Felton-era cabinets were removed from the room, pieces of original hand-painted floorcloth from the Johnston era were discovered and reproduced by Gracewood Studio in Portland. The original Eastlake dining table, 14 chairs and accompanying buffet and a pedestal (all original Johnston furnishings that had never left the house) were repaired and restored by Greg Guenther Studio and upholstered by Ross Sheehan, both of Savannah. Under the direction of Bonnie Dowling, the fireplace was restored with a coal grate and a nourishing of the wood on the carved overmantel. Furthermore, the Felton-era tile on the fireplace hearth and surround were replaced with marble which reflects the style of original materials used. In addition, Bonnie Dowling Interiors made custom draperies to recreate the essence of the window treatments in the historic photograph. Mirrored wall sconces were re-wired and restored to flank the Felton-era Seasons of the Vineyard stained glass window, the only decorative arts feature from a later period that was retained. The dramatic effect of the central light fixture is especially noteworthy. The original gas fixture from the Hay House Dining Room, was returned to Hay House by Howard Community Center, who had obtained it by way of an auction held in the 1950s. With the metalwork restored and reproduction etched-glass globes in place, the fixture elegantly floats above the table. The Hay era crystal chandelier (c.1960) can be viewed on the Ground level in the exhibition room. Hay House is very fortunate to still have Johnston-era decorative arts pieces original to the room, including the restored oil painting, The Bay of Naples by Giorgio Signorini (a Johnston honeymoon purchase in 1853), the pair of grand Old Paris urns on the mantel, and the decorative brass ewer on the leather-covered pedestal, restored with faux leather painted in the same pattern as the original leather.

The Living Room was restored to the late Hay era (1926-62), using a color photograph dating 1962 as a guide. Originally conceived as a ballroom when the house was built by the Johnstons 1855-59, this room was used by P. L. Hay, Sr. and his family as a Living Room. After paint analysis, the light peach-tinted color of the trim and ceiling fields were painted by A.T. Long & Son. Using a single, small original sample of the Hay-era flocked wallpaper, Schumacher & Company was able to reproduce wallpaper to replicate the historic sample. The furniture - some that was already in the room, some that was obtained from storage - was restored by Greg Guenther Studio of Savannah and reupholstered by Roland's Upholstery of Macon. The fabrics of both the upholstery and custom draperies were selected by Bonnie C. Dowling Interiors, based on the historic photograph and coordination with the color of the wallpaper. The three major oil paintings in the room, including one by renowned Neoclassical painter Angelica Kauffmann, were cleaned and relocated to their appropriate places. The seven-figure Blind Man's Bluff porcelain with a Capodimonte maker's mark was restored. Lamps by Ingleside of Macon repaired and restored the pair of porcelain lamps.

Photography courtesy




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