Another Question – That dratted hangey thing

Posted by on Dec 8, 2011 in Foyer/Halls, History | 14 comments

There’s been a certain decorative element that has bothered me since we bought the house. However, as I mentioned before, I might be the only one who harbors such a pointed sentiment of dislike. Others have agreed that it doesn’t really seem to fit the house but some people like it.
It’s the strange moroccan/’70’s semi-bead curtain that hangs in the doorway from the foyer into the little mailroom/anteroom and into the second parlor. It obstructs the view of the gorgeous little light fixture in that small central anteroom and basically I think looks like crap.

Foyer - Hanging Piece "Before"

Last night when we were tentatively pulling and prodding the wainscoting we got up on a ladder and took the damn thing off – it was just a few screws:

Taking it down

Here it is with it off:

Then we noticed something:

Yes, that says Patent Sep 15, 1885. Shit.
Could this much maligned piece of carved wood with odd beads hanging a bit too low for tall people actually be original to the house? Was that archway made for it, were they cast together? Did Moise add a dash of exoticism to his designs when he built the house?

We are now faced with another dilemma speaking to the root of the question: What do we owe the house and its historic nature? Do we own this house and everything in it? Or do we allow ourselves to be cast as custodians for a home created by Moise Waldhorn 120 years ago and perhaps merely caretaking it for our children or the next owner?

But if we go down that path, it’s a slippery slope until we start putting period wallpaper on the ceiling and doilies over our water jugs and we are suddenly living in someone’s grandmother’s house.

On the flipside, I feel we do owe the house at least some thought before we change things that are original, because most of those changes cannot be undone. We won’t be painting the detailed wood mantles white. They’ve survived this long without being painted and that’s rare. We don’t want to be cast as the assholes who come in and do X when it’s gone 120 years without X.

So do we put this thing back up because it’s original? Or do we take it down and ask the plasterers to fill in the notch that it sat in? We need to decide (like the wainscoting) rather quickly since the plasterers will be starting any day now. Or do we put just the top arch back up and leave the stupid dangly things off?

Either way, I don’t think I want the dangly things back, even if they are original…Despite his exquisite taste in most things, it’s very possible that Moise and I simply differ on some aspects of design.


  1. 12-8-2011

    It’s a Portiere of sorts. They were originally heavy velvet and designed to keep heat in various parts of the house, but in the 1880’s to 1890’s beaded ones were briefly popular. So it was simply a fad, just a really old one.

    • 12-8-2011

      Wow thanks! We do have curtain rods between all the parlors (which we will decidedly NOT be replacing with big heavy vampire curtains because we now have central heat and air) but that’s really really interesting.

  2. 12-8-2011

    Is it possible to put the thing back up without the beads? I can see that it must be as you have done just that in one of the shots.

    I hate beaded curtains but the half circle they hang from is sure purty. 😛

    As for what you owe the house, I would say that you do need to live there. The original house did not have washers, dryers, and high speed interweebs, but those are ok. I would presume happiness lies in establishing a balance between what is, what was, and what you can put up with while living in the house for the next X years.

    I like your thought process towards change though – be careful when making decisions from which there it no CTRL-Z.

    • 12-8-2011

      Undo! Undo! Yes, I am leaning in that direction myself.

  3. 12-8-2011

    How about you leave the annoying beads off, but save them and don’t do anything that precludes their getting put back up one day by a future owner? And the beads go in a box in the attic along with a picture or note showing where they go?

    If they really are original, it makes sense to hang on to them, but you are under no obligation to look at them or bonk your head on them every day!

    • 12-8-2011

      Funny enough the beads are *already in a box in the attic* which is convenient as it would be awfully annoying to go all the way up there to get them… very good call.

  4. 12-8-2011

    As much as it hurts to say, sometimes you can’t solve these things with a rampaging crowbar.

    • 12-8-2011

      You can’t? Me and the crowbar Sandy named in college beg to differ… what was it’s name again?

  5. 12-8-2011

    I think you should put it up in the attic and have the plasterers fill the divet left behind. There is so much that you are preserving that I think this one can be left off the list. Also, I agree with you and I don’t like it at all!

  6. 12-8-2011

    Turn it into a hat. Definitely a hat. Well, maybe more of a crown. Then you can parade around the house in the hat and when someone says, “Take that off, goofy,” you can say, “I can’t! It’s an original piece of the house!!!”

    Or… even better, remember Princess Leah’s dress in the court of Jaba the Hutt? Hmm…

    If not, I vote the attic as well, even though I’ll miss the piece dearly when I come back to visit.

  7. 12-9-2011

    Take it down! The whole thing! So does not fit the style….even if it is original :~

  8. 12-11-2011

    Not bad without the hangies…I say keep it.

  9. 1-15-2012

    I’m behind in commenting, so you’ve probably made up your mind, but I really like the whole thing being gone. Yes, slightly better without the beads, but the with that archway opened up it’s like a breath of fresh air. I can FEEL the doorway saying, “Thank God, that thing was dragging me down!”

  10. 1-19-2012

    I DEFINITELY like the clean lines of the naked arch. You know how I feel about those dangly things…not matter how old it is. But DEFINITELY do not get rid of it. To the attic with it!!