Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Long-Hidden Pastoral Mural Uncovered in Pelhamdale, a Pre-Revolutionary War Home

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In April 1993, workers were laboring in the lovely home known as Pelhamdale, then owned by Robert and Janis McMullen. Portions of the home are believed to have been built before the Revolutionary War. The home is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The workers had begun to refinish the walls of the entrance foyer. When they began, they reportedly thought the walls of the space were merely painted blue. As they began to remove paint, they realized that there were layers of wallpaper beneath. As they began stripping away wallpaper, according to one report, "the faint etchings of a treetop emerged from nowhere". The work crew, it turned out, had stumbled onto a long-lost and lovingly created pastoral mural. Below is a detail from the mural.

The mural depicts what appears to be a pastoral scene from colonial America. It is in the so-called primitive style andis quite lovely. In the foreground are balusters. There also are what seem to be wild roses growing and entertwining themselves among those balusters giving the feeling that the viewer is standing on a balcony or along a lovely promenade looking over an idyllic scene. There are fishermen spreading their neights, a child and a woman playing near goats and women washing clothes in a beautiful pond.

Removing decades worth of paint and wallpaper caused slight damage to portions of the mural, but the homeowners commissioned a local Pelham artist named Rebecca Conviser to restore the mural. She and her assistant, Alex Rutschbrock (then a New Rochelle High School art teacher), spent weeks restoring the mural at the home. For those lucky enough to visit the home today, the mural is among the first things they see when entering the home. It make for a dramatic entrance and is strikingly lovely. Another detail from the mural appears below.

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