|Bringing Back Holleywood
Jason and the painters have sanded and oiled and painted and waxed stairways to perfection. Rear rails were gift of Rob and Ellen, a find from New Orleans. Window opening in stairwell passage went unrailed for years. How did generations of Rudd children growing up here survive?
Each of the bannister rails is stripped and oiled, not once but three times. Two coats of wax are applied, to keep the wood glossy until the next restoration.
Some of Katherine's photos of Holleywood can be found here.
In 1860, the spiral staircase was moved from the front of the house to the back. Which created a gap that was left unprotected for generations. It's a wonder the youngest residents survived such a hazard. Rob and Ellen closed off the gap with a handsome ballustrade created from complementary railing posts they donated to the project, acquired on a long-ago trip to New Orleans. Matt, a master carpenter on the job, took pains to match quarter sawn cherry handrail to the shape of the existing banister.
This stairwell was moved from the front of the house to the back, when the house was expanded in 1860. The move created a quirky space between the spiral and windowed back wall. It's a wonder that generations of children have grown up here without falling through. We'll keep the space but add railings to prevent what happened to the seller's uncle when he was a toddler: he fell from the third floor, right down to the first where he happily soft-landed in a basket full of laundry.
Here, you can see the original moss green paint uncovered by the painter who is stripping the wallpaper.
The bones of the house are so good, we're spared from having to make structural changes. In fact, this renovation will be nothing compared to what took place in 1857. When the house was first built, this spiral staircase at the rear of the center hall was in the front hall. A few years later, it was moved to the back of the house. Why? Alexander Holley had just been elected Governor, and his new bride (third wife) Sarah Coit Day, foresaw a long public life. Undismayed by formidable problems, she moved the stairs to make the entrance more suitable to large receptions she felt would be required by her husband's position.
See the tiny corner sink on the floor at the bottom of the mahogany banister? One advantage of working with a contractor who specializes in old houses is he collects vintage booty you can't buy anymore. "This is perfect for the little powder room under the stairwell," he said. And it was.
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.