Michigan Period Room

Michigan Period Room

The Michigan Period Room currently represents a library in America. The room dates from 1910, when Daughters of the American Revolution of Michigan contributed $1,000 in memory of Irene Williams Chittenden, third State Regent, for the area on the northeast corner of the second floor of Memorial Continental Hall.

It was originally furnished in the Chippendale style and used at various times by the Genealogical Editor, the Magazine Committee, and the Registrar General.

In 1938, after approval by both State and National Boards, the room was re-designed by architect William I. Deming. The ceiling was lowered, a corner fireplace installed, cabinets and paneling were added, and wide flooring was laid with peg construction.

During World War II, the contents of the room were stored, and the room itself was loaned to the American Red Cross as a patriotic service.

In 1955, the room was completely re-decorated, and in 1965 its renovation was a State Regent Project focusing on authentic furniture and memorabilia. Notable additions were the Jacob Eichholtz individual portraits of Michigan’s third Territorial Governor, General George Bryan Porter, and his wife, Sarah Humes Porter, painted in 1818. In 1831, General Porter was appointed Governor of the Michigan Territory by President Andrew Jackson. The portrait of President Jackson attributed to Ralph E.W. Earl was painted in 1830 for Governor Porter. These three portraits were conserved between 2000-2003 as a State Regent Project.

Over the years, Michigan chapters and Daughters have generously contributed to the rare book collection. A few were actually published during the Revolutionary period. Others are about or by Michigan authors, about the State of Michigan, or written and published in Michigan. Some are autographed, many are first or limited editions, and all have been encased in “book shoes” to preserve them. This project was finished in 1994.

The focal piece of furniture in the room is the large cylinder mahogany roll-top desk highlighted with gilt brass decorative mounts called ormolu made in Paris by Joseph Stockel between 1775 and 1803.

In October 2003 the C.A.R. Senior National Board of Management, at the request of the DAR of Michigan, approved the loan to NSDAR of an archival eight-arm gilt brass chandelier. The chandelier, circa 1910, originally hung in the Children’s Room. This chandelier is the remaining of the original 12 chandeliers in the building. It was taken from C.A.R. National Headquarters for restoration and now hangs in the Michigan Period Room along with two conserved sconces restored during this time period as a State Regent Project.

During the 2006-2009 administration, the State Regent Project was conservation. Therefore, the Michigan Period Room was given a facelift with new paint. The Michigan Historical Book was conserved with a restored cover, the lectern that the book is displayed on was conserved, and the first engraved map locating Detroit, printed from the original copper plate made by Guillaume Delisle circa 1703, was cleaned, re-matted and re-framed.

During the 2009-2012 administration, a newly revised Michigan Period Room color brochure was published, and the beautiful area rug was conserved. A painted tinware tray from the collection was selected for use during the “By, For, and Of the People: Folk Art and America Exhibit” in the DAR Museum.

The 2012-2015 administration project was the replacement of the original metal gate with one of wood. The new gate on rollers protects the wood floor entry from further damage and is in compliance with current safety regulations. The English mahogany easy chair was reupholstered in era-appropriate fabrics to match the current room décor. A pair of pearl-handled pens were donated to be displayed on our beautiful desk. The pens were a gift to a Michigan Daughter from her grandmother in the early 1900s, and a prized addition to the room.

Due to the constant vigilance of each administration, this room has been restored to what you see today, a place of beauty and tranquility, to be enjoyed by all. During the week of Continental Congress the Michigan Period Room hosts an open house to all visiting members of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Throughout the year, the Michigan collection may be viewed from the gated doorway.

 

Photos courtesy of DAR of Michigan and Heather Curtis, Ezra Parker Chapter NSDAR.
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