Adelicia's Master Bedroom Suite
Belmont Mansion is pleased to present the completion of a restoration project more than 20 years in the making – Adelicia’s Master Bedroom Suite. When the work began, it was hard to imagine the completed restoration.
During the Colonial era, rooms often served a multitude of purposes, the kitchen often doubling or tripling as a place to prepare and eat food, a place to gather family and friends, and sometimes a place to sleep. By the 1850s, however, room specialization became more apparent in American homes and concepts such as the Master Bedroom emerged. Adelicia’s Bedroom, the mansion’s Master Bedroom, reflects this trend.
As one of the most personal spaces in the house, the bedroom is the room that most reflects its inhabitant’s true self. And, as a result, this is perhaps the best room to plunge the depths of Adelicia’s personality, to learn what she enjoyed most by observing the objects she chose to surround herself with.
Adelicia was in her thirties when the house, and thus the bedroom, was built. She was by that point beginning her second marriage, to Joseph Acklen, and had given birth to five children, only two of who were still alive.
When she moved into her bedroom, we know she had two paintings – one a portrait of her deceased children and one a landscape of Fairview, the home she shared with her first husband, Isaac Franklin, who had also died – hanging on the bedroom walls.
In many ways it seems that she created a space that reflected her history – and reminded her of the people and places she loved.
While the bed, dresser and armoire are original to the house, they are not the original furnishings Adelicia used in her bedroom. They do, however, reflect the grandeur and extravagance of the house.
The carpet in Adelicia’s bedroom suite was woven by one of the oldest carpet makers in England, the Grosvenor Wilton Company Ltd. of Kidderminster. Founded in 1790, this company still uses traditional Wilton looms, weaving carpeting seen in places as varied as Prince William and Kate’s wedding photograph and the sets for Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln.”
The French-inspired pattern for the carpeting was originally sold in the New York showroom of America’s first “interior designer,” Leon Marcotte, in 1854 and has been used in only one other location – Ledyard Lincklaen’s home, Lorenzo, in Cazenovia, N.Y.
When our carpet arrived in the United States from the looms in Kidderminster, it was in rolls 27 inches wide, the same way it would have arrived in the 19thcentury. It was handsewn in Cincinnati, Ohio, by the Gfroerer Company and brought to Nashville in two pieces 54 inches wide by 72 inches long by Bryan Gfroerer, who was in charge of its installation.
Of the bedroom suite’s major fixtures, the carpeting was the one we knew least about. However, we knew Adelicia shopped in New York for the mansion’s furnishings in 1853 and bought carpet in New York in 1867. We believe Adelicia would have visited Marcotte’s, by then Rinquet-LePrince-Marcotte’s, showroom, and with her love of all things French, we believe she would have been happy with this carpet.
Though they may appear to be Greek, the details in the bedroom suite’s Wallpaper are not actually from Homer’s “Odyssey,” but rather from “Les Aventures de Telemaque” (The Adventures of Telemachus), a French didactic novel by François Fénelon. Published in 1699 and reissued in 1717, “Les Aventures de Telemaque” was one of the most popular works of the 18th century. It was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson and the inspiration for Mozart’s 1781 opera, “Ideomeneo.”
Fénelon’s classic novel fills in the gaps of Homer’s story by focusing on Telemachus’ journey to find his father. In it, he arrives on the island of Calypso, accompanied by his tutor, Mentor, who is eventually revealed as Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, in disguise.
Formally titled “The Passage of Telemachus on the Island of Calypso,” the wallpaper was made by Dufour of Paris, a wallpaper company renowned in France during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Telemachus wallpaper was first printed around 1818 and remained in production till World War I, when the wood blocks used to print the paper were destroyed.
Oddly enough, this wallpaper was somewhat out of fashion when Adelicia chose it for her bedroom. But she may have had other reasons than fashion for choosing it. Not only had she read Homer’s “Odyssey,” the wallpaper’s pattern was also taken from her parents’ house at Rokeby and therefore most likely served as a sentimental reminder of childhood for her.
A full run of the Telemachus wallpaper consists of 25 panels, or lengths, 20.5 inches wide. Printed using 2,027 wood blocks containing 85 colors, the wallpaper is positioned where it originally hung and reads from right to left, beginning next to the door entering the middle bedroom and ending above the fireplace. It took one complete set and 15 panels repeated to paper this room.
There are so many people to thank for this achievement -- it has been a more than 20-year project. One particular person we must recognize is Bonne Crigger. This an amazing Nashville interior designer loaned her design “eye” and creativity to this endeavor and her talent helped carry us through to the final product.