Upham Mansion Seeking Donations for Wallpaper Remodel

Historical Society Seeks Replacement for 40 Year-Old Wallpaper

In 1975, the North Wood County Historical Society purchased Governor Upham’s historic Victorian mansion and updated it in time for a public opening in late June, 1978. One of those updates included new wallpaper, and forty years later, the aging décor is due for another upgrade.

“We would like to re-paper those areas that are in most need of replacement, namely the two larger galleries upstairs as well the back upstairs hallway,” said Kim Krueger, coordinator. “Ideally we would like to find period appropriate wallpaper.”

“This will take a bit of research and will be a bit more costly than just putting fresh paper up, but we would like the rooms to reflect their earlier décor. Someday, it would be nice if the whole house could be re-done to period wallpaper!” she added.

The historical society is concentrating on the areas that are most in need of re-papering. Originally, the Board of Directors thought to try painting over the wallpaper until money could be raised, but some research showed that doing so would not work well. Seams and textured wallpaper would show through the paint and might even peel off. Since some of the mansion’s walls have been patched with plaster, painting over the wallpaper was not a good solution.

It was decided to begin scraping off the 1970s wallpaper to prep for painting. “Our President, Brad Allen, took on the project and as he started scraping, he found two layers of earlier paper plus plaster patchwork from earlier repairs,” said Krueger. The oldest design featured pussy willows.

The scraping project was halted to prevent destroying useful information for future restoration. In the meantime, the group will be looking for wallpaper similar to the original. Although the project will take longer than expected, Krueger said they want to be sure they are doing the best practice. They are considering keeping “peek-a-boo” swatches of the older papers so visitors can see what they looked like.

The historical society is accepting donations specifically for the project. Donations can be made through the Community Foundation website with the designation of “wallpaper.” Another way is to mail a check to the society to NWCHS PO Box 142, Marshfield, WI 54449 with the memo, “wallpaper restoration.”

Watch our filmed tour of Upham Mansion here.