Zuber’s “Eldorado”


Two men — one on a ladder — recently stood in the Morning Parlor and unfurled the future for us to consider. Our response: "It's beautiful!"

If you've visited the Manor House, you've experienced the outsized impact of "Eldorado," 12 wallpaper panels depicting the mythic city of gold. The French firm Zuber devised this glorious landscape in 1848. Fortunately, Zuber still produces the set using the same hand-carved blocks, methods, and materials. Created and installed here in the early 1900s, the panels are badly cracked, faded, and, in some places, falling off crumbling walls.

Thus the house call by Jim Francis and John Nalewaja of NYC-based Scenic Wallpaper. They're renowned for their Zuber landscape expertise, and we are grateful for connecting with them thanks to attentive supporters. Funded in part by a generous grant from The Versailles Foundation, they'll guide us in this bespoke project, one of several we're developing for interior renewals beyond bricks and mortar.

Among the challenging tasks we face is planning for the future of the house itself. The 46 rooms — basement to attic — comprise our single largest collection item and have features requiring methodical documentation and preservation planning. With expert guidance from Architectural Preservation Studio DPC, we’ve incorporated some of this work into the Capital Campaign budget. However, certain aspects —including interior finishes in the historic front rooms of the 1737 house — call for targeted approaches. 

An example is the recent house call by Jim Francis and John Nalewaja of Scenic Wallpaper. They’re helping us determine the best action for the Zuber wallpaper in the Ladies’ Parlor. Their NYC-based firm specializes in historic wallpapers, and they’ve worked on dozens of Zuber landscapes, including “Eldorado.” A generous grant from The Versailles Foundation and individual donors supports this bespoke project. Thankfully, Jim and John have come up with a solid plan. Having established that the wallpaper isn’t as old as we once imagined, we’re satisfied with their proposal to salvage what they can and then repaper, in-kind and in-place. 

As a result, the wallpaper’s vibrant impact will endure for generations to come. First, they’ll remove as much of the original paper as possible. This will enable us to assess and repair the room’s crumbling plaster walls (the windows and doors are covered in the Capital Campaign budget). Then, they’ll install fresh “Eldorado” rolls purchased from Zuber, which still crafts this 1848 design by hand using the same wood blocks, techniques, and materials as the originals printed and installed in the early 1900s. Lastly, Scenic Wallpaper will mount remnants of the originals for our historical records and exhibition. 

Such projects — closely associated with the Manor House rehabilitation work but separately scheduled and funded — illustrate the scope of our broader renewal efforts. We are also seeking experts and funding for other aspects, including conserving works of art — from attic etchings by the Montaukett Pharoah brothers to family portraits; repairing and restoring rare antique furnishings, and digitizing thousands of documents, photographs, and other historical records.

Your contributions to the Capital Campaign are instrumental in achieving our mission to preserve, cultivate, and share this extraordinary place. We’ll keep you posted about additional opportunities related to bespoke projects.

John Nalewaja and Jim Francis of Scenic Wallpaper unfurl a fresh roll of Eldorado during a Manor House visit


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