Preserving rare and valuable Dufour wallpapers at the Lindens
History of the House
The Lindens is the oldest house in Washington, DC and was notable for its extensive antique French scenic wallpapers. Originally built in 1754 as a grand summer home in Danvers, Massachusetts, the Lindens was later dismantled, transported to Washington, DC and rebuilt there in 1937.
The house was built for Robert “King” Hooper, a leading ship owner and merchant in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Hooper wanted an ornate summer home so as to project his wealth and social stature, but not too long after it was built, he lost his social footing when he persisted in sympathizing with the British during the run-up to the Revolutionary War. Hooper eventually lost his home to creditors and the property passed to several other owners, including one who used it as a boardinghouse.
Provenance of the wallpapers
Francis Peabody, Jr. bought the Lindens in 1860 and restored the home, adding three complete sets of Dufour et Leroy scenic wallpapers. The Lindens was the only remaining house with so much rare original French scenic wallpaper hung together: “Les Incas” and “Les Paysages de Telemaque dans l’Ile de Calypso” were hung in the entrance hall and up the stairs while “Les Voyages d’Anthenor” hung in the upstairs hall.
"Les Paysages de Telemaque dans l’Ile de Calypso” c. 1825 was created by Joseph Dufour and produced between 1815 and 1820. Twenty-five panels depict scenes from the story “Les Aventures de Telemaque” written by Francois Fenelon in 1699. It was block-printed in eighty-five colors with 2,027 woodblocks.
Andrew Jackson also chose Telemaque for the grand entrance stair hallway of the Hermitage.
“Les Voyages d’Anthenor” c. 1814 was manufactured by Joseph Dufour by the same designer who created “Telemaque”, Xavier Mader. This paper depicts the wanderings of a Trojan price who was spared during the siege of Troy and who later founded a city at Cyrene or Patavium.
"Les Incas” c. 1832 was inspired by historian Jean Francois Marmontel’s eighteenth century account of Pizarro’s conquest of Peru in 1531. It was produced by Dufour et Leroy in 25 panels. This is another example of a successful Dufour scenic of military history in a romanticized setting, both exotic and picturesque.
Peabody owned the Lindens for a long while and then it passed through several other hands and was poorly maintained again. The house and its valuable wallpaper was headed for demolition until it was discovered in the 1930s by a husband and wife who wanted a historic home to display their extensive collection of American antique furniture. Miriam and George Morris bought the house and hired Walter Macomber, resident architect of Colonial Williamsburg and Mount Vernon, to supervise dismantling the house in Massachusetts and rebuilding it in Washington, DC. Macomber was entirely successful in moving the house. Only a few windowpanes were damaged and the wallpaper was intact after the move.
Subsequent owners were encouraged to protect the Lindens’ rare and historic wallpaper and they did so. This paper has been protected for generations and has undergone only minimal repairs over the years.
Removal and preservation
The house recently changed hands again and the new owner reached out to John Nalewaja to remove and preserve these incredible French scenic wallpapers. John’s removal experts carefully removed every individual panel following the original seams of the paper. These rare and historic papers have been preserved are available for reinstallation now. For more information, please contact Jim Francis at (212) 496-6135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.