JAIC 1981, Volume 20, Number 2, Article 10 (pp. 116 to 125)
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Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 1981, Volume 20, Number 2, Article 10 (pp. 116 to 125)


Patricia Hamm, & James Hamm


THE STABILITY OF the wallpaper in the future is, of course, of interest to the authors. For that reason we have undertaken to survey the environment into which it will be hung and make recommendations. Two factors stand out in our considerations:

  1. The dining hall cannot be considered a separate room from the rest of the house when recommending environmental parameters.
  2. As has been so well documented in the past few years, historic houses cannot be heated or humidified to the same extent as more modern structures.

Based on studying one year's worth of data from a recording hygrothermograph set up in the dining hall, talking with site personnel, and observing changes in the house through the seasons, we have proposed the following recommendations.

To smooth out the wide recorded variations in actual moisture content (a difference of 6 times from winter to summer), the temperature should be kept low during the winter (45–50�F). It should then be easier (i.e., require less humidification) to maintain a higher relative humidity (45–50%) than before. During the summer, dehumidification has to be emphasized in order to maintain a reasonable R.H. (45–50%) and to prevent excessive moisture buildup in the walls. The temperature should be approximately 70–75�F. These limits can be maintained without exorbitant cost or undue stress on the building's fabric. Keeping the temperature and relative humidity within these ranges will mean an annual fluctuation of only 2 times actual moisture content.

Furthermore, we also recommend the use of the inherent temperature moderating elements of the historic stucture. In the case of the Martin Van Buren house, the shutters, inside and outside, were meant to be used to insulate the windows, thus inhibiting dramatic changes in temperature.

Besides environmental stabilization, the following will help to maximize the longevity of the wallpaper:

  1. UF-3 Plexiglas should be placed in the small east wall windows.
  2. Visitor traffic should be carefully supervised.
  3. Maintenance, especially the painting of moldings, should be supervised.
  4. A careful routine maintenance schedule for cleaning the dining hall should be developed. And finally, a yearly survey-maintenance schedule has been recommended by the site superintendent.


EVEN THOUGH wallpapers, and certainly scenic wallpapers, have been treated in the past, the authors know of no instance where the commitment to full and proper treatment has been as great as with the National Park Service, North Atlantic Region. It has been a pleasure working with such people whose standards and expectations are so high.

Copyright � 1981 American Institute of Historic and Artistic Works