Restoration this week has turned to the South Pavilion. Stripped to the boards for a full renovation, the South Pavilion looks very different than it did during its tenure as a summer home when museum founders Stephen and Sarah Pell chose to make this space their living room during the first restoration of the building in 1908. It is a place to enjoy the beauty of the King’s Garden and views of Lake Champlain while relaxing with family, entertaining dignitaries, and displaying important family heirlooms. Taken in 1963, eleven of the pieces of furniture in the photograph were passed down through the Gibbs or Pell families.
One of the most interesting pieces in the photograph of the living room is the small table against the wall on the left. It is a card table with a folding top that belonged to George Gibbs, Sarah Pell’s great-grandfather and a prominent merchant from Newport, Rhode Island. In addition to recording the card table’s original owner, Sarah also recorded the maker: Duncan Phyfe. Active for over fifty years, Duncan Phyfe was a prominent cabinetmaker in New York City from the mid 1790’s to the late 1840’s, a testament to the quality of the craftsmanship of his workshop and his ability to adapt to changing decorative styles. His work was popular with collectors of early American furniture including Henry Francis du Pont and examples featured in prominent collections and museums across the country.