In 2017, the Department of Historic Preservation and Collections is carrying out an exciting project to research, analyze, document, and restore the room at the top of the stairs to the second floor – known to the Washingtons in the 1790s as the “Blue Room.”
The Blue Room is currently closed for object installation and will reopen on October 7th.
More than thirty years have passed since this room was last restored, and new forensic analysis of the architecture has combined with documentary research to reveal that its appearance in 1799 was far more complex than previously understood. Referred to as the Blue Room in a 1796 memo, the room’s name is the best clue to its furnishings, indicating that blue would have been the primary color of the textiles and wallpaper. Paint analysis has identified cream-colored woodwork throughout the room, which would have provided a neutral accent to colorful fabrics and a bright wallpaper. Physical investigation and research has also revealed that the firebox once held a Rumford insert.
At the completion of the current restoration, the centerpiece of the room will be a dramatic four-post bedstead draped in an indigo blue, printed cotton fabric – a painstaking re-creation of a bed ensemble originally enjoyed by the Washingtons, which no longer survives.
Help Us Restore the Blue Room
As part of the continuing preservation maintenance carried out on the priceless buildings and collections under their care, the Historic Preservation & Collections team undertakes research and analysis in order to refine our understanding of Mount Vernon’s buildings and landscapes.
With your support, this year we will be restoring the Blue Room, guided by exciting new findings about the architecture and furnishings.
The Blue Room’s history connects it to three significant moments in the Washingtons’ lives: when George Washington first became the gentleman landowner of Mount Vernon; when Martha Washington became mistress of the house; and years later, when Washington’s status as gentleman, military hero, and national leader was fully established.
Advanced paint analysis and forensic examination have identified that the c. 1776 mantel in Mount Vernon’s Architectural Study Collection is from the Blue Room, and that it is loosely based on a design from an important eighteenth-century pattern book. After its restoration, the mantel will be reinstalled, returning an original eighteenth-century architectural element to the house.