After two years of planning, fundraising and the work of three fine art conservators, Gari Melchers Home and Studio can now showcase a completed and restored version of the dining room décor enjoyed by Gari and Corinne Melchers during their time at Belmont.
The couple’s furnishings deteriorated over the years due to the damaging effects of light, temperature and age, and were no longer representative of the elegant surroundings where the Melchers relaxed and entertained in the 1920s. The completed restoration included the repair and refurbishing of nine original dining chairs, four of which were reupholstered in silk fabric comparable to the original seat covers.
Other work included the repair of the dining room table, repair and re-lining of the original 104-year-old drapes and mending a large Persian Mahal carpet.
Furniture conservator William Ivey of Richmond and upholstery conservator Jennifer Zemanek of Cobbs Creek, Va., completed the chair work for the dining room. Rug conservator Spier Rahn repaired the carpet.
The dining room refurbishing is a continuing effort spanning two decades with a goal to restore the buildings and gardens of Belmont to their 1920s appearance.
Presently, the house, studio and several dependencies have been fully restored. The carriage house was restored and converted into a visitor center and the formal gardens returned to their original design and content.
The home’s paintings and household furnishings were conserved on a regular schedule with permitting funds. The dining room project at Belmont was the highest priority on the museum’s collection conservation list.
The following foundations provided grants to fund the dining room restoration: Fredericksburg Savings Charitable Foundation; Gwathmey Memorial Trust; Duff McDuff Green, Jr. Fund of The Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region; Dr. Helen Stewart Jones Trust; Margaret Walker Purinton Foundation; and the Roller-Bottimore Foundation.
Gari Melchers Home and Studio is a 28-acre estate and former residence of the artist Gari Melchers and his wife Corinne. The property, which is operated by UMW, is both a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Located at 224 Washington St. in Falmouth, Va., a quarter mile west of the intersection of U.S. 1 and U.S. 17, it is open daily with an admission charge. The museum also serves as the official Stafford County Visitor Center. For directions and other information, call (540) 654-1015 or visit the museum’s website.