Category Archives: Decorative Arts

New Discoveries at CHM

Cabinet found in the CHM basement..

Cabinet found in the CHM basement..

Just when we’re starting to think we have this whole “restoration of a 163 year old house” thing figured out, something comes out of the woodwork and makes us realize we don’t know quite everything there is to know about the Campbells and their beautiful home.  In this case it was a cabinet originally located in the Butler’s Pantry hall.  This area has always been a little bare, not much more than a breezeway providing access into the dining room from the kitchen.  If you’ve been through the house in the last few years, you probably haven’t even noticed the area because it’s been blocked by a screen with the enclosed space used for storage.

A few months ago, two of our volunteers were doing some cleaning and organizing in the Campbell House basement when they found part of a sturdy cabinet that was obviously from the mid-19th century, which was curious.  The kicker was that, once the decades of dust was wiped off, they could see beautiful faux-wood graining that perfectly matched the original faux-graining found in the CHM pantry.  Some more digging uncovered a glass-paneled cabinet door and another slightly larger solid door.  After doing some examining, the cabinet was found to have a swing-out doorstop attached to its top which just happened to perfectly matched a worn down patch at the top of the kitchen door (coincidentally, we usually have a tough time getting that particular door to stay open) and its base was cut precisely to fit on top of the baseboard that runs the length of the hallway.  It was a “holy cannoli” moment, to say the least.

Swing-out door stop at the top of the rediscovered cabinet.

Swing-out door stop at the top of the rediscovered cabinet.

Our best guess is that the cabinet was broken apart and removed from the hallway in the 1960s, when the Butler’s Pantry was converted into a small catering kitchen used by the Museum for parties and special events.  The idea of tearing out an original part of the house in order to put in a modern kitchen might sound a little jarring to us today, but attitudes toward preservation have evolved a lot over the past fifty years.  Heck, you should see some of the wallpaper they put up in this place pre-restoration (#yikes.)  Regardless, the cabinet was broken up, taken down to the basement, and has been hanging out there ever since.

That is, until last week.  Though some framing for the cabinet had to be reconstructed, we had the important stuff: doors, hardware, trim, and the original faux graining.  The space that has for so long sat empty has finally been reunited with its original fixture, and we can’t wait for our friends at Master Artisans to restore the original graining and recreate the delicate design on the newly-constructed portions of the cabinet.  Click through below to check out the finished product!

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CHM: Then and Now

Over the past few months, we’ve been posting some “Then and Now” images on Facebook and Twitter, showing how the Campbell House has evolved over its 70 years as a museum.  This House has gone through a few different color schemes, restorations, and more crazy wallpaper prints than we sometimes care to admit!  Click through the images below to see what we mean.

This time we thought we’d dive in a little deeper and look at how one of our favorite rooms, the Morning Room, has changed over a few different eras.

Bird-tastic stained glass window on the Morning Room's east wall.

Bird-tastic stained glass window on the Morning Room’s east wall.

The Morning Room got its name because it was mainly used (you guessed it!) in the morning.  Sunlight comes in through the beautiful, east-facing stained glass windows and gives the room a sort of glow until about midday.  The room served also served as a

less formal family room-type parlor, because the big, flashy, red and gold behemoth that you can see in the middle photo above was really just for entertaining (and impressing) guests.  CHM’s morning room served as a place for the Campbell family members to go in the morning: to write their letters, read their newspapers, slurp their coffee, etc. but it also was useful to servants because it kept the Campbells out of their hair for a while.  Generally nineteenth century servants weren’t permitted to  in the same room as the family members unless one of them was ill, so having a space where servants knew the Campbells would consistently spend a chunk of their morning allowed them free range of the upper floors to make beds, empty chamber pots (wahoo!) and get ready for the day without having to worry about a family member walking in on them and interrupting their work.

The Morning Room was originally chock-full of stuff ranging from marble busts to taxidermied birds, and most of it can still be found in exactly (or pretty close to) in today’s pictures.  Click through the images below and watch the Morning Room’s progress from the 1880s to the present – see if you can find which objects have moved, which ones are missing today, and which ones are sitting in the same exact spot 160 years later!

 

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Our Fellow Campbell House(s)

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Home Sweet Home, CHM in STL.

The Campbell House Museum in St. Louis, Missouri is, as you probably already know, a pretty incredible place.  Built in 1851 and the home of fur trader and entrepreneur Robert Campbell and his family from 1854 to 1938, the house contains a nearly complete collection of the Campbells’ original furnishings and has been painstakingly restored over the past decade to reach its current state as one of the best-restored 19th Century buildings in America.  But did you know we aren’t alone?  We share the name “Campbell House Museum” with two other institutions in North America, one older than CHM St. Louis and one newer.  Though our stories are quite a bit different from one another, they’re all pretty darn interesting.
Read on to find out more…


 

Campbell House Museum (1898)
Spokane, Washington

CH with chairs

CHM Spokane, ca. 1898.

We first look up to Spokane, Washington, the grounds of the Northwest Museum of Art and Culture (MAC), and the home of mining magnate Amasa B. Campbell, his wife Grace and daughter Helen.  Campbell made his fortune in mining, beginning with a risky investment of $25,000 in an Idaho gem mine.  That bet paid off and, after moving his mining operations from Idaho to Spokane in 1898, Campbell built a house to match his bank account.  Built in an English Tudor Revival style, the Campbell House Museum in Spokane describes itself as follows:

“The first floor interior, on two levels, provides a sense of drama. To the right of the dark wood-paneled entry hall is a light, gilded French reception room where Grace Campbell received her visitors. To the left, the library’s dark wooden beams and inglenook fireplace provide a cozy atmosphere for informal evenings at home as well

Amasa Campbell and daughter Helen.

Amasa Campbell and daughter Helen.

as formal events. Four steps lead to a large dining room with a fireplace surrounded by blue and white Dutch tiles. A deep veranda around the back of the house affords a view of the Spokane River below. Other features include a den, decorated in the popular Middle Eastern style, well-planned service areas, and four bedrooms upstairs.”

Following her mother’s death in 1924, Helen Campbell donated the house and its grounds to the East Washington Historical Society which used the building as a space for special exhibitions and community events.  After the construction of the MAC, Campbell House Spokane underwent a 2001 restoration that has brought it back to its original beauty.  For more information on the home of Amasa Campbell and the Northwest Museum of Art and Culture, click the image below or check them out on Facebook.

CHM Spokane

CHM Spokane in the present day. Click to visit their website!


Campbell House Museum (1822)

Toronto, Canada

CHM Toronto in the late 1800s, at that point serving as home to the "Capewell Horse Nail Co."

CHM Toronto in the late 1800s, at that point serving as home to the “Capewell Horse Nail Co.”

Now we’ll head even farther north, to our Canadian friends at the Campbell House Museum of Toronto, originally home to Upper Canada Chief Justice Sir William Campbell and his wife Hannah.  The stately home was built in 1822 and today stands as one of the few remaining structures of the Georgian Palladian style left standing in Canada.  William Campbell is remembered for his important role in presiding over the trial of rioters who destroyed William Lyon Mackenzie’s printing press, a significant early test for freedom of the press in Canada.  The story of the “Types Riot” is quite a read, click here to learn more about it.  The house served as the Campbell Family home until the death of Hannah Campbell in 1844, at which point the house and its contents were auctioned off (Sound familiar? The same thing happened here at CHM St. Louis in 1941 after the death of Hazlett Campbell).  The building then served as a private home, office space and eventually was converted to a factory.

CHM Toronto in the midst of its move in 1972.

CHM Toronto in the midst of its move in 1972.

This is where things get neat – facing demolition in 1972 at its original location, a group of community-minded and historically-interested lawyers got together and paid to MOVE THE WHOLE HOUSE just over 5,000 feet down the street to its current location in downtown Toronto.  Click here to read about that move and see some pretty nifty pictures.  It’s not every day a Georgian mansion goes cruising down Main Street.

Today the Campbell House Museum in Toronto sits safely in its new location, serving both as an early 19th century Toronto history museum as well as a community and event space “to discuss, to create, to perform, and to socialize, giving life to the words Freedom of Expression” and continuing the legacy of Sir William Campbell.  For more information on CHM Toronto, click the image below to visit their website or check them out on Facebook.

Campbell House Toronto. in the present day.  Click to visit their website!

Campbell House Toronto in the present day. Click to visit their website!

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