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Peeling Back the Layers of Time – LINOLEUM

Storage3Today we start a several-week series of posts on the incredible story told by the layers of paint, wallpaper, carpeting and woodwork found throughout Campbell House.  Though you won’t see it on a regular visit to the Museum, our climate-controlled storage room holds thousands of scraps of wall/floor coverings and samples of the beautiful paint and original woodwork that once adorned the Campbells’ halls.

Today we’re taking a peek at everyone’s favorite subject… linoleum!  Though linoleum might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of stellar interior decoration and artwork, the Campbells actually had really excellent tastes in their linoleum choices, and they’re works of art in their own way.

When we went to do the museum restoration about 12 years ago, we were lucky to have these pieces.  People who were a whole lot smarter than us were contracted to do complex color analyses, and recreate wall/floor coverings that were identical to the ones Virginia Campbell would have picked out for her home well over a century ago.  The picture below shows this – who would’ve thought that the original linoleum was so bright and vibrant!


Scroll through the pictures below to check out some more of our lovely linoleum.

Linoleum samples are mounted on boards, labeled, and sealed with plastic to hold the brittle remnants together.
Intern Shannan peels back the plastic covering to take a closer look at some original CHM linoleum










Newest layer of linoleum found during the restoration, dating from the early 20th century. This was probably one of the last layers put in by the Campbell family and was actually found UNDER floorboards put in by the Museum in the 1940s.
Detail – early 20th century linoleum












Oldest layer of linoleum found during the restoration, dating from the mid-19th century. It has a different, more grainy texture than other linoleum found in the house during the same period.


Detail – back of mid-1800s linoleum










Detail – mid-1800s linoleum
19th century linoleum found underneath floorboards in the kitchen









The Campbell kitchen in the present day. Though not as flashy as the designs seen above, the plain steel gray linoleum is also appropriate to the period.








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