The Capital

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — It took five years, numerous specialists and $60,000, but William Paca has his bling back. Hey, it takes a lot of time and money for a 273-year-old man to get his groove on!

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Of course, we’re talking historic preservation and the 18th century, so bling isn’t gold chains and flashy diamonds. It’s a dining room do-over.

There’s new carpet, curtains and wallpaper in the 16 1/2-by-16 1/2-foot room, making it appear more like it did in the politician’s heyday.

“He had so much money,” said textile historian Natalie Larson of Williamsburg, Va. “Even though he didn’t live in the house for long, he was certainly buying stuff.”

Previously, the wood floor in the dining room was covered by black and white sailcloth in a marble-like pattern. There weren’t any curtains, and the walls were whitewashed.

The project involved analysis of holes left in the floor and at the top of the windows. Experts determined these were left from curtain tacks and carpet nails. That was a starting point for deeper investigation.

While consultants couldn’t determine the exact furnishings Paca used, the new materials are as close as possible and period-correct.

“For us, it was fun,” said Carrie Kiewitt, Historic Annapolis Foundation’s senior vice president for advancement. “So much scholarly research went into it.”

The multicolored wool carpet, which has floral and geometric designs, was made in England. The central portion is modeled after carpet in an historic home there called Blickling Hall, the residence of Anne Boleyn’s parents. Although Blickling predates the Paca House, rooms in the English home were redecorated in 18th century.

The Paca carpet was installed starting on his birthday, Oct. 31.

The emerald green curtains are silk and wool damask with a fancy gold design on the valence. The wallpaper, another luxury item in the 1700s, is also green, a color appropriate for dining during that time period.

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Green was thought to be calming and conducive to reflection, said Alexandra Deutsch, HAF’s former curator.Many 18th-century homes didn’t have either carpet or curtains.

“It’s picking up on the little details Paca deliberately chose to show off to Annapolis,” said HAF’s current curator Pandora Stinton.

“A house gets stale unless you re-imagine how (people) lived,” Stinton said.

There have been plenty of new exhibits and changes to the Paca House by HAF over the years, but the dining room project is the most costly and most extensive.

It’s also the longest, beginning in 2008 under Deutsch, who is now the chief curator at the Maryland Historical Society.
“Interpretively, the dining room is a tremendously important space in the house,” Deutsch said. “It would have been a showplace for the Pacas.”

The project took a long time because of the funds involved, as well as the detailed analysis of the room. HAF assembled a “power team of historic interiors,” Deutsch said.

The team included Larson, two carpet experts and preservation and paint consultants. Still, there was plenty of debate.

“There were so many ups and downs with the project,” Deutsch said. “Not since the house was redone (to turn it into a museum) has so much attention been given to that level.”

She called the completion of the renovations “a dream realized.”

Stinton is equally thrilled.

“It’s wonderful to have a room that’s so obviously lavish to the modern-day eye,” she said. “Visitors aren’t specialists, but they won’t need a docent to know how lavish the room was. It’s evident.”

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Information from: The Capital of Annapolis, Md.,
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