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Rutherford B. Hayes House - Spiegel Grove

Spiegel Grove

Photo courtesy of the Hayes Presidential Center

Spiegel Grove in Fremont Ohio and home to the 19th President, Rutherford B. Hayes was originally begun in 1859 by Hayes’ uncle as a summer home for the entire family. Hayes moved his family into the home in 1873. When first constructed it was a large brick house with a veranda but over the following 20 years, first as Ohio Governor and then as President, Hayes expanded it into the magnificent 31 room mansion that exists to the present day. The house is preserved in the final Post Presidential period at the time of Rutherford B, Hayes’ death in 1893.

LMD did the wallpapers for the Red Parlor, the Library-Sitting Room, the Hall-Smithsonian Room, the President’s Bedroom and Bathroom. There were 15 wallpapers reproduced for the house using primarily original photographic evidence circa 1890.

The Red Parlor

Parlor circa 1890

Photo courtesy of the Hayes Presidential Center

The Red Parlor was so described not for the wallpaper color but for the upholstery, draperies and carpet in the room. With the evidence from these items, the period photographs of the room and extensive research of similar vintage wallpapers in the LMD archives, the laborious task of recreating the six wallpaper designs for the Red Parlor began.

Flower Field

As was the style in the late 19th century, the ceiling treatment in the room was quite elaborate and consisted of a floral pearl and gilded field paper that was decoratively surrounded by a group of three border papers which accented the outer edges of the ceiling and chimney breast.

Final Installation of Ceiling Papers

To the delight of the curatorial staff, the original paperhanger who installed this intricate treatment had left a record of it drawn on the plaster ceiling. This was used as a guide not only for the scale of the ceiling borders to be reproduced but also for their final placement in the room.

To further inform the reproduction of the designs the width of the chimney breast was used as a constant reference point for scaling the photographic evidence.

Although the size of the floral ceiling border in the original photo is approximately ¼ inch in height, the motif was still clearly visible in the photographic evidence when it was undistorted and computer enhanced.

Scaling Process of Parlor Papers

The final elegant version shows a hibiscus as the alternate flower and beautiful detail in the flowers and leaves.

Original Photo Detail Lily Border

Final Version Lily Border

While reviewing the reference photo it became clear that the sidewall paper was obviously something simple and rather textural. The reoccurring pattern of horizontal broken lines in the photograph suggested the use of a basket weave pattern from the LMD archive which was rescaled and adapted to fit the reference. The basket weave type of pattern would have been in keeping with the Japanesque style of the period and was echoed in the rather exotically shaped foliage that appeared to be used in the border at the top of the wall.

Basket Weave

The frieze that was visible at the top of the wall was recreated from the photographic evidence available and the execution and color was influenced by several different foliate borders of the same period found in the LMD archive.

Japanesque Floral Frieze Original photo and Final Version

The Red Parlor

Photo courtesy of the Hayes Presidential Center

The President’s Bedroom

As with the Red Parlor there was a ceiling treatment in the President’s Bedroom that included both a field paper of gold metallic sunbursts and a floral border accenting the outer edges of the ceiling and chimney breast. Again marks on the ceiling helped determine the installation of the papers.

Wall and Ceiling Detail

Photo courtesy of the Hayes Presidential Center

President’s Bedroom circa 1890

Photo courtesy of the Hayes Presidential Center



The only actual period wallpaper evidence in this room was found on a piece of horse hair plaster the size of a quarter from the ceiling. This bit of paper was a real treasure and was used to guide the gold metallic color and stylistic rendering of the motifs roughly seen in the photographic evidence. With these things LMD was able to reproduce a simple, elegant, shimmering design which is very typical of ceiling papers found from the mid to late 19th century right through to the mid 20th century.

Although the evidence was small when the period photograph was undistorted and enhanced through computer the sunflower motif was clearly visible. The secondary flower was determined to be a hydrangea which was in keeping with period evidence and worked with the color scheme used in the room.

Original Photo Sunflower and Hydrangea Border

Final Version Sunflower and Hydrangea Border

For the task of reproducing the sidewall, the best reference photograph was of Mrs. Hayes’ funeral flowers which also contained a vanity mirror which had remained in the house. This mirror was used to determine the wallpapers scale. The finished wallpaper Floral Tribute, was created from the photograph and another very similar pattern found from the period. It was decided that a pearl ground would be appropriate to the period and in keeping with the style of the house.

Original Photo Evidence

Floral Tribute

A border with a vine-like design on a dark ground was visible in the original photographs at the top of the floral sidewall. After much thought and research it was determined that it would be best interpreted as a morning glory design. Other morning glory patterns from the time were referenced and adapted to fit the scale and coloration of the evidence.

Original Photo Morning Glory Trellis Border

Final Version Morning Glory Trellis Border

When this border was added to the other beautiful floral patterns in the room, they made the Presidents’ Bedroom a veritable bower.

The President’s Bedroom

Photo courtesy of the Hayes Presidential Center

Note: In addition to reproducing all of the wallpapers from the period photographs of this room, LMD also reproduced the floral designs for the carpeting as well.

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