Laurel Hall

Building Description



The interior of the house is focused around a large central hallway serving as the main avenue of traffic and entrance area to the adjacent rooms. The hallway flows into a large, wide staircase that provides the main means of egress from the entertainment area of the house to the private rooms on the second floor. Four formal rooms with sixteen foot ceilings, pocket doors, fireplaces and tall windows form the main block of the building. On the first floor, the hallway and front parlor still retain the original wallpaper from 1882 with classic Anglo-Japanese asymmetrical designs and exotic motifs. The other rooms have been redecorated to approximate the original wallpaper and paint colors.

As you enter through the front door on the east facade, you pass into a grand hallway. The wallpaper is Anglo-Japanese design with Roman and Greek themes in the frieze on the ceilings and walls. The predominant colors are dark with tan and gold highlights, creating an interesting contrast to the original interior trim painting of ashen pinks, tans, pale blues and black detailing. This combination of colors is repeated throughout both floors of the house. The tall, heavy, varnished wood doors have as the top panel, colored glass panes of amber, blue and pink, in a geometric design. On either side of the main doors are smaller, longer versions of the colored glass windows. The doors and small windows have molded surrounds of painted wood with bulls-eye cornerblocks and decorative accents on the door surrounds and on the baseboard. The door knobs, plates, and hinges are brass with raised Eastlake style ornament.

Off the main hallway, to the right, is a small sitting room. The fireplace, situated on the interior wall facing east, has a tall mantel of birchwood with turned spindles flanking a rectangular mirror supporting a tapered hood. The hearth is set with dark patterned tiles of Eastlake designs with light blue and white floral tiles surrounding the firebox. The ceiling is painted pressed metal with a curved crown molding. The tall windows are of the Queen Anne style, banded at the top by a panel of colored lights (blue, amber, purple, red). The height of the window is emphasized by a dado panel of wood with molded trim beneath each window. This style of window is repeated throughout the fenestration of the main block of the house.

On the south side of the hall is the large front parlor. This room contains original wallpaper including ceiling panels of small birds and orange flowers with vibrant leaves of green and yellow set upon a light blue background. The main body of the wallpaper is shades of tan and brown with light blue highlights. The fireplace is on the west wall of the room with a mantel similar to the one in the front sitting room. On the hearth are dark tiles of geometric designs with lighter colored tiles of a thistle design around the firebox. This room retains the original Brussels carpeting laid when the house was built.

Continuing down the hallway, there is a center arch of decorative painted columns and molding with ornamental keystone designs. The haunch of the arch is angular rather than curved. The arch is formed by two freestanding columns flanked on either side by a smaller arch with engaged pillars. The side arches form decorative surrounds for the classic statuary that was placed in this area. The archway serves not only as a support for the upper floors, but as a visual break to make the main hallway feel less imposing.

Past the archway, to the right, is the large 30' x 20' music room in the north wing of the house. At the end of the room, facing the east, are large casement doors that open onto the deck that wraps around from the front of the house. The doors are of the same design as the front doors with the top panel of geometric colored glass. The room is done entirely in painted pressed metal, with dado, walls, crown molding and ceiling of different patterns. The fireplace is located on the western wall of the room and has a tile-bordered hearth of a more complex design with "Scenes of Shakespeare" tiles surrounding the firebox. The wood mantel is supported by large brackets with a triplet mirror and overmantel.

Across the hall from the music room is the formal dining room. The fireplace is located on the east wall of the room and is of wooden moldings with a large mirror over the mantel, bracketed by electric candles and tiered overmantel. The dining room has panel doors on the west wall, one of which opens to the pantry and continues to the kitchen, and the other door opens to a small work and storage area.

The pantry is a narrow 7 1/2' x 12' room with cupboards and shelving on both sides. A small sink and drainboard are set on the south wall of the room. The kitchen is a simple room with a large service chimney on the west wall and a sink and drainboard on the east side of the room. The walls in the pantry and kitchen are finished with horizontally laid painted beadboard. The small work and supply room is entered from the kitchen and the dining room with doors to the east and west respectively. Another door to the northwest of the workroom serves as access to the main hallway under the staircase. The basement can be reached from the interior by a door and set of steps in the northwest corner of the kitchen area.

After serving as the entrance way for the main rooms of entertainment, the hallway then serves as a grand entrance to the rooms above. A large newel post with carved panels and faceted design serves as the introduction to the cherry staircase done in the Eastlake style that rises to a landing, turns and then continues to the second floor landing where the private rooms are located. On the open side of the staircase, the elaborateness of staircase is evident. Attached to the side of the risers are the balustrades, the lower portion of which are finished in a faceted pendant drop motif with moldings and turned designs. The corner newel posts are also of substantial size with the drop design reaching below the staircase. The staircase is open to the second floor ceiling and upon reaching the second floor landing, the balustrade forms a balcony overlooking the staircase. Above the stairway landing, on the west facade, is a set of paired windows with multi-colored panes of glass. When the sun makes its western descent, rich colored light is produced filling both the main and second floor hallways with shades of amber, purple and blue. There is smaller window of this type on the north side of the landing. Both the large and smaller window are surrounded by decorative molding and window aprons. A small bathroom was added under the main staircase in what was a small closet.

As you reach the second floor landing, and are now facing east, there are bedrooms to the north and south. To the east, is a small room that serves as the entranceway to the second floor balcony. The second floor has four main bedrooms, a bathroom, a tower room, and two servants rooms. The bathroom and three of the bedrooms have been repainted and papered. The other rooms retain the original decor of 1882. The doors to the rooms are carved with an eight panel design and the windows are the same Queen Anne style. Door and window surrounds have the same moldings as on the first floor with polychromatic paint schemes complementing the wallpaper.

The hallway landing on the second floor serves as the central point to the rooms radiating to the north, east, and south. There is a large floor to ceiling mirror of dark varnished wood mounted on the east wall. The tower room is entered directly off the landing by a doorway to the left of the large mirror. It is a small room, possibly used for a sewing room, with a set of four wide steps leading up to casement doors that open out to the second story balcony of the tower. The painted railing of the small interior staircase is comprised of vertical and angled balustrade pieces of Eastlake design. The doors are set under a fixed transom of various sized rectangular panels of colored glass. There are triangle colored glass inserts in the middle of the door with a large pane of clear glass above.

The bathroom is on the west wall of the main block and can be reached from a small hallway that runs between the bathroom and the master bedroom. The hall ends in an entrance to a bedroom to the north. To the southeast of the landing is the master bedroom. A door in the northwest corner of the master bedroom opens to the north bedroom, which also can be accessed by an entrance from the bathroom and the hallway. Off this hallway is the staircase to the attic and the third-story tower room.

The south side of the second floor has two bedrooms: i.e. one in the southeast corner of the main block and one on the south side. The south bedroom is accessed through an ancillary hallway. This hallway also serves as the access to the servants quarters, down a set of stairs and a narrow hallway to the second floor of the west wing. The servants quarters were decorated more simply, but with the same type of wallpaper as in the rest of the house. Remains of Brussels carpet exist in the servants rooms also. The hallway continues the length of the house to the west and then turns sharply to reveal a set of servants stairs, which exit in the kitchen area.

The third floor is the attic space with a finished room in the tower used as a meditation room for Bowman. Like the tower room below, this room also has doors opening onto a small balcony, which overlooks the eastern side of the valley and the graveyard where the family mausoleum resides. The original gravity feed water tanks and some of the original piping are still located in the attic.