Yesterday I met with Ann Eckert Brown of Warwick, Rhode Island. She is the author of American Wall Stenciling, 1790-1840 (University Press of New England, 2003), and one of the few acknowledged experts on the topic. She spent an hour examining the paintings and stenciling in the parlor, the kitchen and the hall, and it is fair to report that she was astonished. She wanted to spend a day examining the remnants of what was fairly extensive painting and stenciling in those rooms. She identified traces that I had overlooked, and talked about where to look and what to look for. She took many photos, which will supplement those on the CD I gave her of ones we had made. She said she intended to return when the restoration work begins. Actually, “restoration,” is the wrong term, for we intend to preserve, not restore the paintings. If our dating for the house proves accurate, these are some of the earliest wall paintings in the mid-Atlantic and may indeed be one of the defining characteristics of the Roseberry Homestead.
She gave me a copy of her book, which I will lend to anyone interested. We actually exchanged books—I gave her a copy of my Historic Churches of Warren County book. We agreed to stay in touch. There are no examples of any early wall painting in New Jersey in her book—she said she had tried to find some, but was unsuccessful. Now she has some great examples for the next edition!