Louisiana's Historic Rosedown Plantation Gets a New, Old Look

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Museum visitors walk on newly painted canvas floorcloths in four rooms of the grand estate just as the antebellum families of the 1800s would have done.

Reproduction Floorcloth at Louisiana's Rosedown Plantation

As part of an on-going effort to accurately recreate the interior appearance of the Rosedown Plantation, the State of Louisiana commissioned Lisa Curry Mair of Canvasworks Floorcloths (http://www.canvasworksfloorcloths.com) to make painted canvas floorcloths (also known as oil cloths) for several floor areas of the main house. The floorcloths were recently installed and are now a part of each tour through the house's historic interior.

Using more than 1500 square feet of canvas and over 40 gallons of paint products, Mair created the wall to wall floor coverings for the four rooms. Traditional techniques were used to shrink, prime, sand, paint and finish each canvas. The process took just over 200 hours to complete and four days to install, using cut copper tacks to secure each piece to the floor.

According to William Seale, an independent historian who specializes in the restoration of historic houses, and who wrote the massive two-volume history of the White House, The President's House (©Johns Hopkins Univ Press 2008) "the floorcloth, also called an 'oilcloth' was a practical, washable floor covering, forerunner of linoleum, and its inclusion in the restoration of Rosedown has brought to an otherwise formal interior the authentic human touch of a house that was actually lived in everyday 175 years ago." Seale was the primary advisor to Mair regarding the design, colors and application of the four Rosedown floorcloths. He had sited the installation of floorcoths at Rosedown in his 2002 Furnishings Plan which he created for Rosedown after much research.

Rosedown Plantation, encompassing 340 acres of its original 2500 acres in St. Francisville, is one of the most intact, documented examples of a domestic plantation complex in the South. It embodies the lifestyle of the antebellum South's wealthiest planters in a way very few other surviving properties can. The plantation's landscape is a laboratory for the study and interpretation of the cultural traditions of slavery, the life style of the gentry and scientific experiments in agriculture and horticulture. Rosedown was established in the 1830s by Daniel and Martha Barrow Turnbull, and remained in the hands of their descendants until the 1950s. The state of Louisiana purchased the property in 2000 and opened it to the public.

Canvasworks Floorcloths has created hundreds of reproduction floorcloths for museums and private homes throughout the country. All work is carried out in the 200- year old carriage house wing of the artist's classic Vermont farmhouse.

For more information, visit http://www.canvasworksfloorcloths.com or call (802)263-5410. To watch the production process see an online movie at http://canvasworksfloorcloths.com/wordpress/?page_id=2.

About Canvasworks Floorcloths

Canvasworks Floorcloths, owned and operated by Lisa Curry Mair, based in Perkinsville, Vermont, designs, creates and sells a full line of canvas floorcloth products- including materials and instructions for do-it-yourselfers through its website, http://www.canvasworksfloorcloths.com.

Owner Lisa Curry Mair is committed to customer service and historical accuracy, always producing the best possible product. She welcomes telephone inquiries from museums, designers and private home owners at (802)263-5410.

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