How excited we were to discover, beneath layers of wallpaper and paint in the entry hall, a fresco believed to be original to the house in 1853. The fresco was not in great shape. Nor was it beautifully executed, like the artful job that Bill Sigsworth discovered hidden away in a closet. Still, it was a fresco from 1853! Should we restore it? Keep it as is? Paint over it? We kept going back and forth on these questions--everyone on the job had strong feelings one way or the other. When the floors were redone, beautiful parquetry appeared, but the double whammy of loud floors and loud wall seemed a bit much. We decided, with reluctance, to let the wall go, preserving a piece of it for posterity. We reasoned: the fresco had been painted over in 1860 by Governor Holley and his new wife Sarah Coit Day. If that decision was good enough for Governor Holley, who were we to disagree? We painted it over with the same green they used, remnants of which Lance was able to match.
Debate continues about what to do with the front hall fresco. The plasterers repaired the wall where they had to, but left as much of it untouched as they could, without us having to worry about the wall falling down. Some of us want to keep it (I'm in that camp), some of us don't (Donald.) Restoring it would be quite an investment of both time and money. One option is simply to leave the wall as is. We decide to put off a decision until the floors are done. Procrastination is one of my favorite solutions to problems!
The decision is made to keep the fresco in the front hallway discovered beneath wallpaper and two layers of paint. The fresco is assumed to be original to the house in 1853, painted to echo tiger's eye marble fireplace in the parlor.
Mike Zordan and his brother are third-generation plasterers. If anybody can save this fresco-d wall, they can. Mike agrees to give it a try, to see if he can patch the big cracks but leave small fissures, for character. After they attend to a piece of the wall, we'll take a look and decide what to do.
Our walls seem to be like Russian dolls; take off one layer and there's more underneath. When we bought the house, the entry hall was wallpapered. Removing the paper revealed gorgeous, complex green paint which Ellen found a painter to match. We meant to reapply the same color, when the walls were replastered. But when the paint was removed for the plaster, we were stunned to discover a fresco design, as well as the ghost of an original doorway. We assume the faux-marble fresco was done in 1853 to match the marble fireplace in the parlor, and painted over in 1860 when the house was renovated by Governor Holley's new wife Sarah Coit Day who moved into the house after they married in 1856. The fresco is only on the west wall, however. And, as the painter points out, the painter who did it wasn't very good, it is not the artful job that exists (forever hidden, alas) on a closet ceiling. We are meeting tomorrow to decide how to proceed, stay tuned!
who we are
We are a couple of Upper West Siders from NYC who never set out to buy an old mansion in Connecticut. But the moment we walked through its massive front door, we were smitten. The info on this site is earnestly cobbled from a variety of sources, including the web. Please let us know if we've gotten something wrong, or if there's a story about Holleywood you'd like to share.