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Salisbury Mansion at Christmas

Judi's Foiled St. Nick Tree at the Salisbury MansionOnce the home to one of Worcester County’s wealthiest families, the Salisbury Mansion has been restored and furnished based on surviving architectural evidence, information found in the voluminous family papers and manuscript collections, and is Worcester’s only historic house museum. Each year, in celebration of the Holidays, the Salisbury Mansion, as part of the Worcester Historical Museum, decorates the mansion  for the “Home For The Holidays” display. This year, Museum Director, William Wallace, asked Judi Vaillancourt to take ownership of the “kitchen chamber”—the room above the original kitchen.

The “Kitchen Chamber” was originally used by Stephen Salisbury as his bedroom. Once he married, it was known as the “master bedroom” for him and his wife, Elizabeth. After Stephen’s death, Elizabeth took it upon herself to update this room into “contemporary” design by replacing the “old-fashioned” high post bed with a heavily carved French bedstead, and adding polychrome wallpaper with a custom-made complementary carpet.

During her son’s, Stephen II, trip to France in the early 1800s, she had directed him to purchase items for the room, including the delicate Parisian boudoir desk. To maintain “contemporary” furniture, Elizabeth also had a commode, wash stands, several wing chairs and multiple sets of side chairs. Like today, her bedroom was not a room where adults “hung out,” but instead would serve as a place to retire when ill or injured.

To decorate for the Christmas season, Judi Vaillancourt—with the assistance of the Vaillancourt Gallery Decorator, Bette Keene—was inspired by Stephen II’s travels to Paris in the 1830s. It was during that same time period that Leon LeTang of Paris began creating confectionery moulds to establish his company in the popular chocolate mould movement in Europe at that time. Using vintage LeTang moulds from the Vaillancourt’s private collection, Judi created chalkware St. Nicholases with an added “contemporary” twist of gold and silver leafing. Decorating the tree and mantel piece, these chalkware figures are combined with natural-looking wreaths and garlands with embellishments of “contemporary” detail that today, Elizabeth Salisbury may have used to bring good cheer to friends as they came “home for the holidays.”

Joy of Christmas
1860 Christmas at Salisbury Mansion: 2013 Home For The Holidays
A Christmas Carol: 2013
The 2014 Decoration Process