Monday, September 19, 2011

Parlor restoration begins

Today marks an important milestone in the history of Glessner House Museum – the start of the long-anticipated restoration of the parlor.  This project has been planned for twenty years and dates back to 1991, when a sample of the hand-stenciled wall covering (on display in the room since that time) was first produced.  Reproduction of the intricate wall covering was very expensive, so the project was put on hold until funds could become available.

In June 2009 the museum lost one of its most ardent supporters and valued docents – Aileen Mandel.  Aileen was passionate about the restoration of the parlor and her family graciously directed memorial gifts to the project.  In May 2010, another long time supporter of the museum and one of its original docents – Bunny Selig – passed away, leaving a generous bequest to the museum which allowed the project to move ahead full force.  Additional funding was provided through a grant from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, and gifts in memory of Bunny.

In addition to the recreation of the wallcovering, funds will be used to reproduce the original William Morris drapes and portieres, rebuild the long-lost banquette, and recreate other missing details.  The room will also be reconfigured to more closely match the floor plan used by the Glessners.  Articles in the coming weeks will focus on specific elements of the restoration.

The dedication of the restored parlor will take place on Friday October 14 beginning at with a reception in the coach house.  Representatives of both Aileen’s and Bunny’s family will be present as we at long last open the doors to an extraordinary room – a true jewel box space within the museum.  A special treat for the evening will be a presentation by architect, historian, and docent John Waters who will provide a fascinating look at William Pretyman, a significant but largely forgotten decorator who produced the original wallcovering, as well as interiors for a number of significant homes and buildings in Chicago.

Next week:  The Pretyman wall covering

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