Those who have visited Eliza Jumel's home, the Morris-Jumel Mansion, may have noticed the delicate gauze curtains that hang in the front parlor. On a recent visit to the Kelton House Museum & Garden in Columbus, Ohio—a wonderful historic house restored to the Victorian era—I learned that such curtains had more than a decorative purpose. Before window screens were widely available, curtains of gauze or lace were used to let air in, but keep mosquitoes out. They would have been hung in a way that allowed them to be drawn completely over the window opening.
I was bicycling past Silver Lake Golf Course on the way to Historic Richmond Town when I did a double take and came to a screeching halt. Grape vines? On a Staten Island golf course? Had Stephen and Eliza Jumel, who planted and tended one of New York City's earliest vineyards in Washington Heights, come to haunt Staten Island in an unusually constructive way?
I have been immersed lately in all things wallpaper—specifically, in researching the wallpapers that once hung in the Morris-Jumel Mansion. Those who read my online article about the wallpaper that hung in the octagon room of the mansion in Eliza Jumel's day may be interested in this two-and-a-half-minute video from the Victoria & Albert Museum. It shows how wallpaper was hand-printed in the nineteenth century using carved wooden blocks. Inspiration for a craft project, anyone?