The Library

Look across the hall from where you are standing.

This photo shows the entrance hall and library, taken from the parlor.  The entrance hall was part of the 1850s renovation, done in the Italianate style. Italianate houses were rambling structures, with less regard for symmetry than Greek Revivalism. Their interiors featured curvilinear, ornate details. In the entrance hall, Italianate influences can be seen in the heavy woodwork of the staircase and in the marble tile floor. Although Dr. Willard favored the Italianate style, several of the remaining Greek Revival details can be seen in these spaces. The plaster cornice and two large plaster brackets on the ceiling are original to the Greek Revival design. In the library, the trim around the doors and windows is also from 1836. 

The woodwork around the doors and the stairway contains birdseye maple, called such because the small knots in the grain resemble bird’s eyes. Birdseye is not a separate species. The name refers to the distinct pattern which occurs in some hard maple trees. It is a naturally occurring phenomenon, making it a very rare and highly sought after wood.

Notice that almost all of the doors on the main floor are pocket doors. Pocket doors were first introduced during the Victorian Era. They were popular space savers and the novelty of being able to make the door disappear appealed to Victorian hosts. Pocket doors were ideal for entertaining, as they allowed flow between rooms during the evening but could be closed for more intimate parties, or when the men and women separated for after dinner gatherings. They fell out of favor due to design flaws, as many early doors were built with raised tracks on the floor which were major tripping hazards. During the housing boom of the 1950s, they again rose in popularity because of their space saving qualities, and they are making a comeback today as they help bridge the gap between our love of open floor plans and the convenience of being able to close certain rooms off at any time.