Notes on Hampton Mansion
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Appendix C

APPENDIX C-1: Shutters for the Mansion

I have never seen any manuscript references to the outside shutters of the Mansion.

The window shutters removed in 1949 were stored in the cellar and are still there. They are of the fixed slat type with long iron straps which not only hold the shutter to the frame, but hold each shutter together in one piece.

These shutters should be examined for details that would determine their age; they may have been installed when the house was quite new. I have never seen an essay on the subject but slat shutters seem to have been introduced to the United States about the year 1800, possibly from the West Indies. In the rich French Colony of Saint Domingue (now Haiti) these slat shutters, called Jalousies, at the end of the 18th century were new there, too.

The type with movable slats stapled to vertical sticks appeared somewhat later. The earliest documentary reference I remember is one for installing them inside the First Presbyterian Church of Princeton, New Jersey. Charles Steadman's 1835 specification called them "inside revolving, venitian Blinds." Examples may be seen in the contemporary (1839) Presbyterian Church in Trenton by the same carpenter-architect.

In laying out a set of shutters for the Mansion it should be noted from old photographs:

(1) that the shutters were installed mostly on the south side

(2) some are one panel high and some are two

(3) some were painted a light color (probably the same as the window frames) but mostly they are dark (probably green).

I suppose the first step in reinstalling them would be to bring the old shutters up out of the cellar to see how many there are and where they fit. If the window frames are now (1970) all replacements the chance for identifying pintle holes is probably nil.

I am quite sure the house would be more attractive with the shutters back in place, to relieve the wide expanse of stucco. They would probably make the Mansion more comfortable in the summer period, as they undoubtedly did in the old days.

APPENDIX C-2: Interior Colors

October 27, 1949


To: Chief of Development

From: Architect Peterson

Subject: Interior colors, Hampton National Historic Site

We have so far been fortunate in the weather and nearly all man hours have been spent on the exterior of the mansion. But we must plan our indoor work program and this brings up the matter of interior colors which involves important general policy. The explorations we have made for the original paint colors although not complete, have been fairly rewarding. In general, the interiors have had only two or three coats of paint in 160 years. The bottom coat is usually very thin, but distinguishable. No prime coat seems to have been used.

The most important room in the house is the Drawing Room. It is one of the most available on which we can begin. It appears that the original decoration was one coat of light gray paint over all woodwork. This remained for some years and then--say 1840--the door and baseboard were painted a strong dark green. Still later the box lock on the door was removed, the door grained "walnut" and the rest of the woodwork "satinwood". This latter effect probably dates from the 1850's and has remained until the present time. It is now in bad shape due to peeling. The walls were painted in oil colors a light buff originally. Later, they were papered, which paper had become worn, faded and loose. We are removing what is left. The original finish of the ceiling is not known. Six months ago I asked to have some of the old ceiling saved for study. If samples can now be found, they will be studied for evidences of original finish.

The original effect was thus gray and buff, much like one of the main rooms in Stratford Hall, Virginia, refinished about the year 1800. I recommend that this effect be restored at Hampton.

I am sending a copy of this memorandum to Chairman Scarff for his information in case the Hampton Committee wishes us not to follow the above recommendation.

C. E. Peterson

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Last Updated: 07-Jul-2008