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The Times
  • Maria Herkimer’s room unveiled following symposium

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  • LITTLE FALLS — A project some 15 years in the making was unveiled Saturday at the Herkimer Home State Historic Site.
    Tours of Maria Herkimer’s new room in the Herkimer Home were part of a wallpaper symposium and reception, featuring two speakers with expertise in historic interiors.
    The room was newly papered this past winter with a reproduction of an 18thcentury wallpaper in a pink-and-grey color scheme. In addition, Site Director Karen Sheckells said, General Nicholas Herkimer’s dressing table was recently returned to the home and serves as a focal point in the room. The table had been with members of the Herkimer family and they recently returned it to the home.
    “It’s a work in progress,” Sheckells said, adding that the Friends of the Herkimer Home, the group that raised funds for the wallpaper, are continuing their efforts.
    When Gen. Herkimer died, Sheckells explained, his home was left to his brother, George, but he specified in his will that the parlor, the most decorated room in the house, was to be left to his wife, Maria, for her use.
    Matthew MacVittee, lead interpreter at the home, explained that Maria Herkimer, the general’s second wife, was barely 20 years old when he died and it was assumed she would remarry. In addition to the exclusive use of the room, Maria was to share half the mansion and receive an African slave and the rent from the general’s property. Maria did, in fact, remarry in 1780 and stayed in the area for time before moving to Upper Canada.
    The room was decorated as it might have appeared in September 1777, MacVittee said. Gen. Herkimer died in August 1777 following the Battle of Oriskany.
    He said the general’s dressing table was made of birch and the carpentry was similar to other pieces of furniture known to have belonged to the general.
    Adelphi Paper Hangings of Sharon Springs reproduced the floral design based on an 18th century fragment found in Maryland. The home also received technical assistance from the Bureau of Historic Sites and Bureau of Historic Preservation Field Services at Peebles Island. Paint analysis was done and the tea rose colored paint in the room was a result of the work.
    Robert Kelly, wallpaper historian and technical expert and author of The Backstory of Wallpaper: Paper-Hangings 1650-1750, introduced those attending the symposium in the Herkimer Home’s Visitor Center to the history of wallpaper while Judy Anderson, social, architectural, and cultural historian, author of Glorious Splendor: The 18th-Century Wallpapers in the Jeremiah Lee Mansion, spoke about high-end wallpaper in the 18th century.
    A champagne reception followed and participants were then given the opportunity to tour Maria Herkimer’s room in the Herkimer Home.
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