by: Kajsa Sabatke, Interpretive Programs Coordinator
“This is beautiful - I love it!” “How ugly!” “I certainly wouldn’t choose this for my living room!"Regardless of your reaction to the wallpaper in the More House, one of the first words out of your mouth is likely to be, “Wow.” The brightly-colored, boldly-patterned paper is one feature that few people have a weak opinion about. I have gotten used to the paper after working in the house for over a year, but I still enjoy hearing the range of reactions from our visitors. My favorite comment to date is a ten-year-old boy who compared the More House to a funhouse. The wallpaper – and the carpets, curtains, and painted graining on the wood panels and doors – reflects the way that the Mores and other families decorated their homes. Because of their wealth, Jonas and Deborah More could afford a greater amount and more expensive decorations, but all families decorated their homes to some degree with similar kinds of treatments. The painted surfaces are the most accurate reproductions of the original treatments in the house. Since we could still see the first layers of paint on the walls and doors, like this door in the kitchen, painters could replicate the original red color with painted graining.
Things like wallpaper, carpeting, and curtains, on the other hand, did not survive. Instead, we chose reproductions with colors and patterns that made sense with the paint colors, and that we know other families used in central New York during the nineteenth century. The overall effect of the decorative treatments, while sometimes jarring to our modern eyes, is the most effective way to teach visitors about the popular styles during the Mores’ lives.