Transcript: Curator Dennis Carr Describes the Oak Hill Dining Room

DENNIS CARR: For the Dining Room, we didn’t have much evidence for the carpets and the wallpapers that were originally in the house. However, in one of the inventories, from 1814, it mentions a "Turkey Carpet." Which is probably an English interpretation of an Asian-style carpet. And so for the dining room, we selected a red "Turkey" carpet, probably made in England, around 1800 from a factory...that had the original hand-colored drawings of this particular carpet. And it was a new thing in the period, to have wall-to-wall carpeting. It was quite an extravagance.

We selected the wallpaper here in the Dining Room based on a historic pattern from 1807 that was produced either in Philadelphia or in France. And we chose it because we liked how the strong, bold geometric pattern of the wallpaper worked well with the interior carving – especially here in the niche, where you can see the pattern – this classical ornament – that’s repeated in the center of the diamond pattern here.

Period taste for the early 19th century can be a little bit shocking to our modern eyes – it sometimes can seem discordant, in fact. But...I think the pairing of the wallpaper and the carpeting in this room works because there’s enough the two, that pulls them together.

When you think of dim, candlelit interiors of the early 19th century, compared to our modern lighting, it’s very, very different so there was certainly an eagerness to have very, very vibrant interior furnishings.