Category Archives: Campbell House

Christmas at the Campbell House

400581_10151876571244412_1398628777_n

Part of what makes Camp­bell House so unique is that the vast major­i­ty of every­thing you see when you go through the House is com­plete­ly orig­i­nal.  No fakes, MSGs or fillers.  What you’re see­ing belonged to the Camp­bells, was used by them on a dai­ly basis, and is still call­ing CHM home more than 160 years lat­er.  But when it comes to Christ­mas­time at the Camp­bell House, we’ve had to be a lit­tle bit cre­ative.

2929787835_xmas_tree_question_mark_M_answer_103_xlargeYou see, though we would like to say that all of the beau­ti­ful orna­men­ta­tion, lus­cious green­ery, and Vic­to­ri­an frills found through­out the build­ing is spot-on orig­i­nal as well… it’s not.  In fact, we only have TWO orig­i­nal Camp­bell Christ­mas pieces in our col­lec­tion.  That’s not two sets of dec­o­ra­tions or two box­es… it’s two.  And there’s a pret­ty easy expla­na­tion for why this is.

The Camp­bells, as we’re well aware, knew how to throw a par­ty.  Folks like Pres­i­dent U.S. Grant, Gen­er­al William Tecum­seh Sher­man, James Eads, and Hen­ry Shaw reg­u­lar­ly supped here at the House, and Vir­ginia even had the for­mal par­lor dou­bled in size to accom­mo­date the elab­o­rate get-togeth­ers.  As you can imag­ine, their Christ­mas par­ties (and lat­er, their son Hugh’s Christ­mas par­ties) would have been a grand affair, and the Camp­bells made sure their guests went home with gifts to remind them of the evening.  But these weren’t spe­cial­ty gift bags or neon t‑shirts with “Camp­bell Xmas Par­ty 1854” embla­zoned across the front.  When you came to a Camp­bell Christ­mas par­ty, you were allowed to take with you an orna­ment from their tree.  And, as many guests came and went through the halls of this grand home, so too did the Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions.  Kind of a neat tra­di­tion, right?  Great for the guests, not so great for us here at CHM who would love to get our mitts on some of those orna­ments in the present day.

iPhone5 December2013 435

Par­lor tree, mid-con­struc­tion.

photo (7)

Com­plet­ed par­lor tree.

So, when you come through Camp­bell House this hol­i­day sea­son (and we HIGHLY encour­age you to do so), know that you’re look­ing at our best guess of what a Camp­bell Christ­mas might have looked like.  Is it spot-on orig­i­nal?  No.  But it is quite the sight to behold.  Hol­i­day dec­o­rat­ing takes the bet­ter part of a month to com­plete.  It’s worth the effort.

Check out pic­tures below of the two remain­ing Camp­bell Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions in our col­lec­tion.  Also some pic­tures of how we deck our halls dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son!

photo (6)

The only Camp­bell orna­ment remain­ing in the CHM col­lec­tion. A small, cel­lu­loid (thin plas­tic-like mate­r­i­al) piece depict­ing a young girl with a bas­ket of apples. The orna­ment was tak­en off the Camp­bell Christ­mas tree and giv­en to a young vis­i­tor in 1922. 

photo (8)

The only oth­er Camp­bell Christ­mas piece still in our col­lec­tion today, is this rein­deer. Orig­i­nal­ly part of a full set of San­ta’s eight rein­deer that sat on the Camp­bells’ din­ing room table (see below), Vix­en end­ed up with a dif­fer­ent St. Louis fam­i­ly for more than 90 years before he was returned to Camp­bell House.

photo (10)

Ster­ling sil­ver harp name­plate on the crit­ter’s back iden­ti­fy­ing him as Vix­en. Please dis­re­gard the neon green iPhone case.

Reindeer2Circa1890

The orig­i­nal full set of rein­deer on the Camp­bell fam­i­ly din­ing table,  cir­ca 1895.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall 2013 Campbell House Newsletter — Hot Off the Press!

NewsletterGraphicAlrighty, folks.  So this has been a long time com­ing, and our apolo­gies for not hav­ing some­thing up a lit­tle soon­er but there has been SO MUCH going on around Camp­bell House over the past cou­ple of weeks- not the least of which is the pub­li­ca­tion of the lat­est edi­tion of our newslet­ter, the Camp­bell House Couri­er!

Next week we’ll have up anoth­er post­ing in our “Peel­ing Back the Lay­ers” series on the CHM restora­tion, but for now we want­ed to get you as jazzed as we are to read about every­thing that’s been going on here at the house over the past year.

Check out the link below to read about our Glo­ri­ous Gowns exhib­it, the new­ly installed restored par­lor draperies, get some updates from Direc­tor Andy (AKA: The Boss), some major events we’ve held like ‘Feast­ing with the Camp­bells’, and a real­ly inter­est­ing nugget of research that we found on Robert Camp­bell and Texas. (hint: if Robert Camp­bell hadn’t been around, the city of El Paso as we know it would not exist today.)

Have we piqued your interest?  Good!

Now click here to check it out.

 

Peeling Back the Layers of Time — WALLPAPER

IMG_1646

Binders full of hun­dreds of plas­tic-sleeved wall­pa­per frag­ments revealed dur­ing the restora­tion can be found in our stor­age area.

This week’s top­ic in our “Peel­ing Back the Lay­ers” series looks at some of the incred­i­ble wall­pa­per that has graced the walls of Camp­bell House since its con­struc­tion in 1851.

When the muse­um began its exten­sive restora­tion project in 2000, great care was tak­en to pre­serve any­thing and every­thing that was found in walls, under floor­boards, and under lay­ers of paint and wall­pa­per.  Everything—from large orig­i­nal doors and win­dows to the small­est scrap of fad­ed wall­pa­per was saved and is pre­served for future study here at Camp­bell House.  Our cli­mate-con­trolled archives room is chock-full of binders and box­es con­tain­ing all of these frag­ments.

Over time, wall­pa­per itself has fad­ed in and out of style and, along with this, lots of dif­fer­ent designs saw peaks in pop­u­lar­i­ty.  The first thing a lot of us think of when think of wall­pa­per might be some­thing like you see to the right.

Random internet picture of terrible wallpaper.

Ran­dom inter­net pic­ture of ter­ri­ble wall­pa­per.

Yikes, right?  Have no fear—our wall­pa­per is way more inter­est­ing than Grand­ma’s din­ing room.

Like the linoleum we talked about a cou­ple of weeks ago, we found quite a few lay­ers of wall­pa­per­ing when we began the restora­tion.

After uncov­er­ing all of these nifty scraps, we began the process of recre­at­ing wall­pa­pers and inte­ri­ors that matched the orig­i­nals, which was an enor­mous project, read more about that and see some neat pic­tures of us at work dur­ing the restora­tion after the break—

Here’s a taste of what we have in our wallpaper collection:

IMG_1582

Cir­ca 1870 wall­pa­per from CHM’s 3rd floor sit­ting room, still attached to plas­ter.

IMG_1586

Wall­pa­per bor­der rem­nant from the sec­ond floor of the Car­riage House.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1590

Wall­pa­per sam­ples found in the sec­ond floor ser­vants hall with a “felt board” back­ing, dat­ing from the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 IMG_1611

Cir­ca 1860 wall­pa­per bor­der frag­ment found in the third floor stair­well. The bor­der accent­ed an unusu­al­ly large pat­terned Ash­lar paper—designed to look like fin­ished brick or stone. See the cur­rent iter­a­tion of Ash­lar paper found today at Camp­bell House below. 

 

photo (6)

Ash­lar block wall­pa­per on the walls at Camp­bell House today- installed in the ear­ly 2000s dur­ing our restora­tion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1655

Block flo­ral motif pat­tern found under the crown mold­ing in the ser­vants hall and out­side the sec­ond floor bath­room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1622

Bor­der paper frag­ment found in Mrs. Kyle’s room behind man­tle facade dat­ing from the 1860s- this like­ly pre­dat­ed the many exten­sive struc­tur­al addi­tions and improve­ments that the Camp­bells made to their home over time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1667

Wall­pa­per frag­ment found on the west wall of CHM’s library. This was found behind a divid­ing wall, mean­ing it dates from before the 1880s and was installed by Robert and Vir­ginia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wallpaper Restoration

After uncov­er­ing all of those neat his­tor­i­cal pieces of wall­pa­per, we began the process of re-paper­ing with spe­cial­ly designed spot-on recre­ations of what orig­i­nal­ly hung on the Camp­bells’ walls.  This was quite the process—wallpapering in the 1880s was noth­ing like what it is today.

Wall­pa­per had to be recre­at­ed through col­or analy­sis and pho­tos of the var­i­ous rooms that were tak­en in the 1880s, when it arrived it came in rolls like this:

 IMG_1693

The wall­pa­per came rolled in 30 inch-wide strips.  How­ev­er, the design was only on 19 inch­es of the strip, which meant our installers had to hand cut the edges of the wall­pa­per and pay extra spe­cial atten­tion to make sure edges matched up once the paper was past­ed to the walls.

IMG_1689

 

All of the wall­pa­pers used in our restora­tion were cus­tom-designed to match orig­i­nal wall­pa­pers found in the house dur­ing the 19th cen­tu­ry by spe­cial­ty design firms.

 

IMG_1698

 

The end prod­uct: the entire wall of the Camp­bel­l’s mas­ter bed­room is cov­ered with indi­vid­ual strips that had to be hand-cut and then past­ed into place.

 

 

So that sounds like quite the project, right?  Well things got even cra­zier with the com­plex wall­pa­per and bor­der design found in Mrs. Kyle’s bed­room.  Like the green lily wall­pa­per seen above, the Japan­ese-inspired wall­pa­per for this project came in small strips that had to be hand-trimmed.

152_5244

What made this room extra tricky, though, was the bor­der that had to be sliced off the top of the roll, past­ed, and reassem­bled by hand into a com­plex design on the ceil­ing and around the tops of the walls.

152_5246

Red and gold trim along the top of the wall­pa­per had to be cut off.

153_5359

Our crafts­man del­i­cate­ly past­ing the cut-off sliv­ers of wall­pa­per into a box-design on the ceil­ing.

 

 

 

 

 

158_5888

The final prod­uct.

Check out the pictures below for some more examples of wallpapering that was done during our restoration:

LucyKyle

Mrs. Kyle’s sec­ond floor bed­room

Dining-Room

Din­ing room

Servant-1

Head house­keep­er’s sec­ond floor bed­room

Library

Third floor library

Drink Up & Tweetup with Campbell House and Distilled History!

distilled historyMark your cal­en­dar!  All of us here at CHM are very excit­ed to part­ner with Dis­tilled His­to­ry, win­ner of the River­front Times 2013 St. Louis Web Award for Best Per­son­al Blog, and host a Tweet­up on Fri­day, Sep­tem­ber 27th cel­e­brat­ing St. Louis his­to­ry and Smith­son­ian Muse­um Day!  We’ll be about a block away from where Taste of St. Louis is going down, so keep in mind that you can stop on by and then head on over to Sol­diers Memo­r­i­al to enjoy all that Taste has to offer.

What, you might be ask­ing, makes this Tweet­up extra fun and inter­est­ing?  Well, not only do you get to expe­ri­ence the Camp­bell House Muse­um (for free), not only do you get to hang out with some awe­some mem­bers of the St. Louis twit­ter­verse (for free), not only do you get the chance to sign up for tick­ets to Camp­bell House and oth­er muse­ums for Smith­son­ian Muse­um Day (for free), not only do you get to have some great food pro­vid­ed by the deli­cious Maya Cafe (for… well, you get the point. This whole shindig is free.), but you get to have a drink while you do it!

We’re going to be tak­ing a look at St. Louis and Camp­bell his­to­ry from the unique (and quite enjoy­able) per­spec­tive of beer, wine, and spir­its.  We’ll have a great selec­tion of Schlafly beer, wine, Vir­ginia Camp­bel­l’s famous Roman Punch, and a spe­cial­ly pre­pared batch of home­made bath­tub gin for your tast­ing delight.  Let me reit­er­ate that last point: there will be bath­tub gin. Our friend Cameron (who hap­pens to be Dis­tilled His­to­ry’s award-win­ning author) will be brew­ing it up, and he assures us it’s per­fect­ly safe… just a lit­tle, erm, strong.  Click here to read more about his bath­tub gin exper­i­men­ta­tion.

IMG_1339

Recipe for Roman Punch from Vir­ginia Camp­bel­l’s 1860 cook­book… don’t wor­ry, ours will be sans eggs.

photo (3)

Pres­i­dent Grant’s cup, with “U.S.G.” inscribed on its side

In addi­tion to the out of the ordi­nary nature of the Tweet­up, we’ll be hav­ing a pret­ty unique, one of a kind raf­fle.  For a buck or two, you (yes you!) get a free drink!  But, since all the drinks will tech­ni­cal­ly be free, we decid­ed to make it pret­ty spe­cial.  The win­ner of this raf­fle gets to take a swig out of a cup once belong­ing to Pres­i­dent U.S. Grant, who was quite the drinker him­self.  It’s in the col­lec­tion here at Camp­bell House and we’re pulling it out of the vault so that a lucky attendee can have the chance to join in some his­tor­i­cal com­mu­nion with our late great, high tol­er­anced for­mer pres­i­dent.

So, let’s recap:

1.) Great food and drink

2.) A unique look at St. Louis and Camp­bell his­to­ry

3.) The chance to take a swig from a cup belong­ing to Pres­i­dent U.S. Grant

4.) Oppor­tu­ni­ty to hang out with mem­bers of the STL Twit­ter­verse

5.) Sign up for free tick­ets to CHM and oth­er great muse­ums for Smith­son­ian Muse­um Day

6.) It’s free. (though we cer­tain­ly won’t sneeze at dona­tions)

The only thing miss­ing?  You.

So swing by after work from 4–6 pm on Fri­day, Sep­tem­ber 27th.  Spend an hour, spend five min­utes, what­ev­er floats your boat.  Taste of St. Louis will be going on down­town, about a block away from us (and we’ll have park­ing… hint hint) We’d love to see you there!

TwitterShoot us a tweet for more info:

@campbellmuseum  or  @distlhistory

#drinkuptweetupSTL

Peeling Back the Layers of Time — LINOLEUM

Storage3Today we start a sev­er­al-week series of posts on the incred­i­ble sto­ry told by the lay­ers of paint, wall­pa­per, car­pet­ing and wood­work found through­out Camp­bell House.  Though you won’t see it on a reg­u­lar vis­it to the Muse­um, our cli­mate-con­trolled stor­age room holds thou­sands of scraps of wall/floor cov­er­ings and sam­ples of the beau­ti­ful paint and orig­i­nal wood­work that once adorned the Camp­bells’ halls.

Today we’re tak­ing a peek at every­one’s favorite sub­ject… linoleum!  Though linoleum might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of stel­lar inte­ri­or dec­o­ra­tion and art­work, the Camp­bells actu­al­ly had real­ly excel­lent tastes in their linoleum choic­es, and they’re works of art in their own way.

When we went to do the muse­um restora­tion about 12 years ago, we were lucky to have these pieces.  Peo­ple who were a whole lot smarter than us were con­tract­ed to do com­plex col­or analy­ses, and recre­ate wall/floor cov­er­ings that were iden­ti­cal to the ones Vir­ginia Camp­bell would have picked out for her home well over a cen­tu­ry ago.  The pic­ture below shows this — who would’ve thought that the orig­i­nal linoleum was so bright and vibrant!

Fbook-linoleum

Scroll through the pic­tures below to check out some more of our love­ly linoleum.

lino9

Linoleum sam­ples are mount­ed on boards, labeled, and sealed with plas­tic to hold the brit­tle rem­nants togeth­er.

LinolShannan

Intern Shan­nan peels back the plas­tic cov­er­ing to take a clos­er look at some orig­i­nal CHM linoleum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lino7

Newest lay­er of linoleum found dur­ing the restora­tion, dat­ing from the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry. This was prob­a­bly one of the last lay­ers put in by the Camp­bell fam­i­ly and was actu­al­ly found UNDER floor­boards put in by the Muse­um in the 1940s.

Storage2

Detail — ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry linoleum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linol6

Old­est lay­er of linoleum found dur­ing the restora­tion, dat­ing from the mid-19th cen­tu­ry. It has a dif­fer­ent, more grainy tex­ture than oth­er linoleum found in the house dur­ing the same peri­od.

 

Linol3

Detail — back of mid-1800s linoleum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linol5

Detail — mid-1800s linoleum

Linol4

19th cen­tu­ry linoleum found under­neath floor­boards in the kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kitchen-2

The Camp­bell kitchen in the present day. Though not as flashy as the designs seen above, the plain steel gray linoleum is also appro­pri­ate to the peri­od.