After completion of the Living Room and Dining Room, Hay House’s Restoration Committee turned its attention to the restoration of the Green Parlor. The last of the major rooms on the main level of the home to undergo restoration, this space is noteworthy for its finishes, fixtures, and purpose. During the Johnston Period (1859-1896), this room served as the Green Parlor, or a family space during the day for reading, sewing, and a place to retire after dinner to sip brandy, smoke, and play cards. The darker, rust-colored marble from Siena, Italy for the mantel also adds distinction to the room. The room displays oil portraits of the original owners and builders, William Butler Johnston, and his wife Anne Tracy Johnston. Note also the light fixture (one of the original gasoliers), massive pocket doors with etched glass elaborate graining, and the original stencil painted green and rose walls from the Johnston era. During the Felton (1896-1926) and Hay periods (1926-1974), this room was used as a library. Bookcases were added to the space by the Felton family and the room was redecorated in the “Arts and Crafts” style.
Through the efforts of the Hay House’s Restoration Committee, research was conducted on the room to determine the appearance of the space through the various periods of the building’s history. Through this work, the cabinets were pulled out and revealed an unexpected find, as evidence of the Johnston period faux paint treatment was discovered. Invoking wallpaper, it is replete with an elegant fleur de leis pattern and a wide palette of colors indicative of late nineteenth-century décor. Another surprise was the remnants of the original wall-to-wall dark olive Brussels carpeting, laid in 27-inch strips, which have been replicated and installed in the room.
Through these discoveries, a decision was reached to restore the finishes to the late Johnston period. Conservators from International Fine Arts Conservation Studio were employed to meticulously restore the room to its late-nineteenth century grandeur. The Historic Preservation Studio of the Savannah College of Art and Design were also employed to restore the room’s interior shutters.
A furnishings plan, still being implemented, will include use of an original Johnston sofa and central table, along with a period desk bookcase, card table, side chairs, and an astral lamp. On the mantle stands a small, bronze statue of Voltaire and Old Paris porcelain vases, all purchased in France by the Johnstons in the 1850s.