Friday, January 3, 2014

Layers of Yeaton House

First built as a single family home, the Yeaton House was continually transformed to meet the changing needs of the neighborhood – as it is changing once again to meet current needs.  In 1795, when Thales Yeaton built his house, the Puddle Dock neighborhood was prosperous and he even built a shop front on the first floor.  Like much of the east coast, Portsmouth suffered from the effects of the War of 1812 and resulting embargoes.  Yeaton House was transformed into a duplex, then a three family home and finally, when the neighborhood was mired in the realities of a stagnant economy, a four family tenement.  

The most significant decorative physical reminder of these changes are various wallpapers in the house.

A small first floor room which had been converted into a bathroom retains this bold fuschia lily pad paper.
A room on the back southwest corner was converted to a bathroom in the twentieth century
The stylistic denticulated crown moulding was painted a coordinating color to the bright paper.  The fuchsia flowers retain their vibrancy but the green of the lily pads has faded.

In the north east parlor chamber, a c. 1820's block printed paper can be seen under multiple layers of later papers.
You can just make out the horizontal seam of the block printed paper, where the green color is darker.

The walls of the second floor kitchen retain pieces of a wonderful Colonial Revival paper, boasting a repeating pattern of Windsor chairs, coffee grinders, tall ships, fireplace tools, cookstoves, banjo clocks and other idealistic images of the colonial past.
The second floor kitchen, located directly above the original kitchen, also retains a sink and evidence of a hot water heater on the left side of the fire box.  The entry door was at one point the entrance to the apartment,, accessed by the rear stair hall.
Remains of the thin paper are cracked, revealing a mint green paint underneath. 

The removal of the medicine cabinet in the second floor bathroom revealed a different kind of wall decoration.
This bubble girl and her accompanying dancers were hidden by a wall hung cabinet
There are dozens of layers of wallpapers throughout the large home, revealing changing trends and personal tastes of the buildings many residents. Examples of each paper have been carefully removed from the wall and will be stored in the Carter Collections Center as examples of their time.

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