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The Venetian Room
New York, NY
Client: Cultural Services of the French Embassy
Project Type: Reconstruction and Restoration
Completed in 1906, the Venetian Room was used as a reception room in the townhouse that was a wedding gift from Col. Oliver Hazard Payne, a financier and industrialist, to his nephew Payne Whitney and Whitney's wife Helen Hay Whitney. Oliver Payne commissioned one of America's best known architects, Stanford White, to design the house. After Helen Hay Whitney's death in 1944, her son followed her wishes to have the room preserved: the room was dismantled, crated and removed before the house was sold in 1949. The French government acquired the building in 1952.
The Venetian Room, circa 1910. Stanford White had made the final decisions and designs for the room the month before his murder; all that remained was the actual installation of the decorative elements, which was completed in 1906.
The Venetian Room remained in storage until 1997, when the room was donated to the French-American Foundation and financial support was provided for its reconstruction and restoration. John G. Waite Associates began the restoration work with examinations of the crated artifacts and probes of the existing construction at the townhouse. The room was rebuilt to its original configuration and the original pieces were reinstalled. Damaged or missing pieces were carefully replicated when appropriate, White's lighting scheme was reproduced, and the Whitney family furnishings were returned to their original location.
In 1998, the restoration of the Venetian Room received a Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award from the New York Landmarks Conservancy and a Power of Preservation Award from the Preservation League of New York State.