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Floor Coverings

A variety of materials were used as floor coverings at Monticello and at the President's House in Washington, D.C., including grass matting, painted floor cloths, and various types of carpeting.

Primary Source References

[1769]. "Send for ... Scotch carpet 17 f. 3 I. sq."1

1769 October 2. "Send by James Ogilvie for ... – a Scotch carpet 17 f. 3 sq."2

1784 November 9. "Pd. for carpet for ding. room & do. for bedside 234f."3

1796 November 26. "Gave D. Watson ord. on Snelson for a rug &c. £1-9."4

1805 May 22. (Thomas Claxton to Jefferson). "Inclosed you will find a pattern of India Matting—The width is yd. and half price one dollar—I have thought that it will be a cheap covering for the passage upstairs, and have been informed that it will last several years—if you should approve of it, please to inform me ... Brussels Carpeting, when I last purchased here was from two dollars to two dollars 25 cents—it has now risen to two and 75—and I can get but 12½ cents abated—it is exceedingly elegant."5

1805 May 26. (Jefferson to Claxton). "I join you in preferring India matting for the passage above stairs [at the President's House]. I have desired mr Smilie (the person whom I was told you employed) to provide floor cloth for the hall & passage below only."6

1805 June 8. (Jefferson to James Dinsmore). "[A]fter writing to you yesterday, I was at the painting room of mr Stewart (the celebrated portrait painter) who had first suggested to me the painting a floor green, which he had himself tried with fine effect. he observed that care should be taken to hit the true grass-green, & as he had his pallet & colours in his hand, I asked him to give me a specimen of the colour, which he instantly mixed up to his mind, and I spreed it with a knife on the inclosed paper. be so good therefore as to give it to mr Barry as the model of the colour I wish to have the hall floor painted of. The painters here talk of putting a japan varnish over the painted floor and floor-cloth after the paint is dry, which they say will prevent it’s being sticky & will bear washing. as I have not seen it I cannot say what it is. mr Barry is probably the best judge of it. ... P.S. The floor should be painted the instant you have it ready, and all other work should give way to the getting that ready."7

1805 June 9. (Jefferson to Claxton). "[T]he floor cloth for the hall is prepared & will be painted immediately in the Capitol."8

1806 November 6. "Gave Joseph Daugherty ord. on bk. US. for 109.D. to wit ... Geo. Taylor. Alexa. a silk rug 6."9

Floor Coverings in the President's House

This list is from the 1809 inventory found at the Library of Congress.10

Store Room No. 2: "1. large Brussels carpet ... & remnants of Brussels carpet"

Large RoomNorth Side: "Brussels carpet on the floor"11

President's Dressing Room: "common Carpet on floor"

Passage Adjoining the President's Bedroom: "Brussels carpet on the floor"

President's Bedroom: "Brussels carpet on the floor"

Lady's Drawing Room: "a Brussels Carpet"

Large Bed RoomSouth Front: "Brussels carpet"

Small Bed RoomSouth Front: "an elegant Brussels carpet"

Dressing Room Adjoining the Above: "common carpet"

Bed ChamberSouth East Corner: "common Carpet"

Great Passage on the Second Floor: "common carpet covering the whole"

Principal Stairs: "Carpet covering the whole"

Private Stairs and Passage: "Common carpet"

Bed ChamberNorth Front: "Brussels carpet"

Dressing Room Attached to the Above: "common carpet"

Additional Bed Chamber–North Front: "Brussels carpet"

President's Cabinet: [floor covering not specified]

President's Sitting Room: "1. elegant Brussels carpet and fire rug"

President's Drawing-Room: "an elegant Brussels Carpet"

Small Dining RoomSouth Front: "a canvass floor cloth, painted Green"

Secretary's Bedroom: "a common carpet"

Secretary's Office: "1 Common Carpet, fire rug"

The Great Hall of Entrance: "the whole floor covered with canvass painted Green"

Large Dining RoomNorthwest Corner: "an elegant Brussels carpet"

Small RoomNorth Side: "painted floor cloth"

Further Sources

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