Among the pieces we’ll be featuring in our January Working Wood Symposium is a wonderful sideboard from the MESDA collection at Old Salem in Winston Salem, North Carolina. This table, originally among the furnishings of Mt. Airy, was saved from a fire in 1844 that gutted the interior of that home.
The table’s designer, joiner William Buckland, and its carver, William Sears emigrated earlier to Virginia indentured to George Mason’s brother, Thomas. The interior of George Mason’s home, Gunston Hall, is also attributed to this same pair of tradesmen, and is in a remarkable state of preservation. So the next logical step in our exploration of this table was a trip to Gunston Hall.
Gunston Hall, located near the Potomac in the midst of 5500 acres is a rather modest home in size. The surprise is it’s glorious interior!
Wonderful elements from the rococo, chinoiserie, and gothic styles decorate the first floor central passage, public rooms, and landing.
Though chinoiserie was popular in Britain, this may be the only house in colonial America to have had this decoration.
The southwest parlor of Gunston Hall is a wonderful example of Palladian classicism.
The philosophy of designing furniture along architectural lines definitely applied here. So many of these same architectural details decorated Mt. Airy, and it’s furnishings. A short piece of the cornice molding from Mt. Airy does survive and is on display at the Gunston Hall visitor center. Some of it’s elements were employed in the decoration of the side table.
Director Mark Whatford and the staff of Gunston Hall were incredibly hospitable and open with this wonderful home.
The research library alone is reason to visit. Among its many period volumes are William Buckland’s apprentice indenture, and indenture with Thomas Mason.
Photos are presented with permission by the Board of Regents, Gunston Hall. Hope you enjoyed them.
Don’t miss this architectural gem.