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INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - February 23, 2005

Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse if back again. Gosh, I have so much to tell you I do not know where to begin. Let's start with the painting. Ol' Henry was watching the day The Paint Crew put the final coat of paint on the upstairs rooms of the 1845 addition. One area completed!! Under the expert advise of our painter, Keith, The Paint Crew is now preparing the 1820s interior walls for paint and wallpaper. This means paint and sand, paint and sand until Keith says the wall is ready for paint or wallpaper. Tom is chipping away at the old glue on what the guys call "Tom's floor"! Henry just knows that someday that floor is gonna' be smooth as glass and beautiful! And, our Keith from St. Louis Tuckpointing is here doing finish work. Boy, Ol' Henry is so glad to have him back again! We now have blue and white Delft tile around the fireplace opening that really adds a lovely touch!


Now it is time to start doing pretty things including wallpapering. Carol F. and Joe have been busy searching for documented wallpaper that is affordable to choose from. Henry heard Joe explain that documented wallpaper is paper that has documentation verifying that the style and color of the paper was used at a certain time. Henry here just keeps listening and learning and maybe one day I might be a real smart old mouse!


From my hidey place I could see the wallpaper that the Board Members chose at their last meeting. They picked paper for Col. Ben and Lucy's bedchamber, the children's room, the dining room and a border for the parlor. My! My! I think they are really beautiful papers and all are documented. Did you catch that I have learned to use a new word? The design and colors are authentic 1820s wallpapers.


The paper selected for the master bedroom is a documented paper, hand screened in Paris. The soft colors in the paper pick up the colors of the mantel and the woodwork in the bedroom. The Friends are able to purchase this very special paper because Stephanie was able to get us a fantastic price! Thank you Stephanie! It was the fashion for small social gatherings to be held in the master bedchamber in the 1820s so this was an important room to decorate. This is where Lucy probably had afternoon tea with lady friends and where visitors enjoyed conversation with Ben and Lucy. The wallpaper in the children's bedroom will be a pleasant mustardy color with strawberries and vines in dark green and the walls will be painted a soft cream color. Hey, Mickey Mouse or cute kittens and puppies were not a part of a 1820s children's room! This room is a soft, warm, comfortable room and Henry here knows the children were happy with their room.
Cousin Jake, his grandkids and I met at the City Park on that wonderful warm day last week and we ran and played. But, I had a question for him, so it wasn't all play! Henry here heard Karen talking about the books Col. Ben donated to the first public library in Edwardsville in 1819, now at the Madison County Museum. This is near Jakes home in Lower Town, where Edwardsville began.


Yep, sure enough, Cousin Jake knew all about the books. There are six books at the Museum that have the signature "B. Stephenson" on the front cover. One of these books is Vol. 3 of "A Defense of the Constitution of the United States of American", written by John Adams around 1786 and published in 1797. Now, that is an old book! There are five volumes of William Russell's The History of Modern Europe, all with Ben's signature. Karen says these old, old books were really cared for because they are in various stages of good condition after all these years.
Palemon Winchester apparently donated books to the new library too. "P. H. Winchester" appears on the front cover of James Thomson's Seasons, The Spectator and Francois Fenelon's The Adventures of Telemachus. Now, these are some intellectual sounding titles!! Seems to Henry that Col. Ben and Palemon were very busy during the daylight hours so they must have done their reading by candlelight. That was life in the 1820s!


Rose Marie brought some really good news to the Stephenson House Board. Do you remember that RoseMarie is the chief grant writer? Well, she has received a $5000 grant from the Ferguson Foundation of Freeport, IL to partially fund the repair and construction of flooring in the 1820 section of "my" house! Good going, RoseMarie. This old mouse can see that the floors really needed help and help has arrived. I heard RoseMarie telling Joe that the lady with the Ferguson Foundation once lived in Freeport on Stephenson Road. How about that! Remember, I told you long ago that when Col. Ben's son James died in Galena his widow and young son moved to Freeport. She died there and years later the son, Kyle, had his father reinterred at the Freeport Cemetery. Freeport is in Stephenson County that is named for Col. Ben and is also where we found our very first picture of Col. Ben. Freeport was the beginning for Karen as she researched the family history and now Freeport and the Ferguson Foundation have really become very special for the Friends. The Friends were mighty happy to receive the grant for the flooring!


Hey you all, I have been up and about, checking out what is going on at 'my' house all through these winter months and you know what? I need a good winter's nap and I am heading for my hidey place to get some sleep! Remember, there is now heat in 'my' house and I love it!


See ya' later,
Henry


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