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Davis House Carpet Installation

In early 2019, historically appropriate carpeting was installed in three of the principal rooms of the Capt. Elias Davis House (c.1804) and on the staircase leading to the second floor. Woven for the Museum by the Grosvenor Wilton Company in Kidderminster, England, the carpet introduced a burst of color and vibrancy into the Davis House, giving visitors an enhanced understanding of domestic interiors during the early Federal period in coastal New England. 

While floor coverings were relatively rare in New England homes during the 17th and early 18th centuries, by the time the Davis House was built, carpeting was increasingly in use, particularly in busy seaports like Gloucester. An inventory of the contents of the Davis House taken in 1821 reveals that in addition to rugs and mats, there was carpeting on the first and second floors. Working with J. R. Burrows & Co., the Museum selected Brussels carpeting woven in period patterns for the Davis House. As scholar Nina Fletcher Little observed, the term Brussels refers to the carpeting’s particular weave (rather than place of origin) that “was composed of colored yarn drawn up in close, uncut loops to form the pattern.” During his career, Capt. Davis made numerous voyages to Europe including several to London where Brussels carpeting was readily available. 

The Museum selected four carpet patterns known to have been used in other historic structures in the region. The samples selected are rich in color and feature vibrant designs incorporating flowers and vines along with geometric and architectural shapes. In the front parlor, the best room in the House, a decorative border was added, complimenting the paper boarder used on the walls of the room. While our 21st century eye may tell us that the carpet patterns fight are over the top, the Davis family and their friends would have found the overall effect very pleasing. 

In 2017, period wallpaper was hung in the first floor on the Davis House. Both the carpeting and the wallpaper projects were funded through the generosity of Museum members and friends. 

Read more about the Davis House carpeting and wallpaper projects in these past issues of Cape Ann Museum Perspectives:

→ Read Carpeting the Davis House in the December 2018 issue of Perspectives.

→ Read Elias Davis House Gets Period Wallpaper in the Summer 2017 issue of Perspectives.

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