Scalamandré Donates Textiles to House
Longfellow library showing historic draperies

"The furniture is white satin covered with gay flowers in vines and clusters; armchairs and sofas heaped with soft cushions covered with the same material. The carpet is a bed of flowers. The effect is greatly heightened by a large mirror opening another gay vista."

—Poet's Homes by Stoddard, 1877

 



Scalamandré, the textile manufacturer renowned for their reproduction fabrics at the White House, Monticello, and other historic buildings, has meticulously recreated and generously donated fabric for draperies in the Longfellow dining room.

Scalamandré's owners, Adriana and Edwin Bitter, visited the House to examine various window treatments. After analyzing photos of draperies hanging in place as well as the fabrics stored in the House, they decided to reproduce the early twentieth-century dining-room draperies. Working with NPS staff, they sent preliminary samples for review to match color and weaving before completing the cloth.

Far more comprehensive than at most historic sites, the House textile collection provides a broad overview of American textile consumption from 1843 to 1950. It represents a wealth of items ranging from mantle fringes and summer slipcovers to family clothing and upholstery. The textiles are documented by letters in the House archives which reveal when and where they came from and why the family chose them.

Although Fanny Longfellow's father, Nathan Appleton, was one of the founders of the town of Lowell, Massachusetts, and its textile industry and made his fortune in textiles, she purchased most of her luxury fabrics from Europe. Fanny kept careful records of textiles for her and her children's clothing. These provide a fascinating look into the history of changing tastes.

Scalamandré's newly reproduced draperies have brought the House a step closer to completing a historically accurate appearance as it was during Alice Longfellow's residence in the 1910s. The library and other rooms still lack draperies because the originals in the House collection are not in good enough condition to hang. The National Park Service is in need of the necessary funds to finish this project.


 

June 2002

© 2004 Longfellow National Historic Site