Billiard Room Reveals Hidden Treasure
When thinking of floors in old houses, most envision heavily sanded, brightly varnished boards covered with Oriental rugs. Keep dreaming, Adelicia and Joseph Acklen would have been appalled at such a thought. Bare wood floors were rarely seen in houses such as Belmont. Carpeting of elaborate patterns stretched wall to wall in most rooms. Decorative painted floors such as the marble pattern found in Belmont’s Grand Salon could also be seen.
An alternative for heavy traffic areas was a floor cloth. An easily cleanable, impervious surface functioned well in certain rooms. Floor cloths were most often utilized in halls and dining rooms. Belmont currently has two reproduction floor cloths replicating 19th century patterns. One is located in the formal dining room, where small scraps were located. The other, original to the house, has been reproduced for the stairwell.
We considered ourselves lucky to have evidence of two floor cloths installed in the 1850s. This alone was a significant find. Then came January of 2020, when exploratory demolition took place in Joseph Acklen’s billiard room. Presently the room is approximately ½ of the original size due to an 1890s alteration. This dividing wall merely covered original elements. An early 20th century floor overlaying the original was also removed.
Visible beneath the dividing wall, threads of what may have been a floor cloth remnant came to light. Study of these threads led to a decision to remove the 1890 baseboard. Once the baseboard had been cleared away it became obvious the 1890 “new” wall had been laid over the existing floor covering – a floor cloth.