Following the death of Senator Grundy in 1961, renovations were undertaken to bring the museum back to a more Victorian style. The Board of Trustees hired James Biddle, curator of the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Artin New York to oversee the restoration. By artfully combining Grundy family furnishings from both the Radcliffe Street house and the family country estate Walnut Grove Farm, Mr. Biddle created the feeling of a Victorian family home. Victorian in-spired drapes and upholstery, gas style ceiling fixtures, and a custom designed, William Morris style wallpaper completed his restorations. The Grundy Museum first opened in 1967 reflecting these changes.
However, in the more than 50 years since the Museum has been open, time had begun to take its toll on the furnishings and collections in the Museum. Considerable advances in the academic study of the late 19th century made it clear that renovations and restorations were required. As such, The Grundy Foundation began a significant restoration of the Museum in 2019. Information as to how the house would have looked when the Grundy family lived there is limited to a series of four photographs in our Archives Collections. Two taken in the Stair Hall in the1880’s, and two photographs taken in1954, of the Stair Hall and Drawing Room offered our only narrow glimpse into the history of the interiors. Many of the pictured pieces were no longer in our collection. The terms of the will of Senator Grundy stated that–
“The Radcliffe Street house, with the furnishings…shall be maintained for exhibition as a home furnished in the decorative period similar to that of the furnishings in my home at the time of my death and as a repository for such of my books and manuscripts as the Foundation in its discretion may deem appropriate for the museum.”
Since the house was furnished at the time of the Senator’s death almost exclusively with later 19th century items consistent with the Victorian-era style of the home, the decision was made to interpret the house as the family would have known it in in the late 19th century. Two rooms, the Study and the Reception Room, reflect slightly later eras to better interpret the later years of the Grundy family story.
Guided by knowledgeable consultants, this thorough restoration will be completed in 2022. The results of the restorations includes the talents by local craftsmen and businesses. Together, their work and our knowledgeable staff, has allowed us to turn back the clock and allow our guests to experience the gilded grandeur of the Victorian Era.