Previous | Next

To solve the mystery the Restoration Team turned again to the physical evidence for answers.  In the Dining Room it was discovered that the large, chair rail-level, brick-shaped ca. 1797 nailers had been abandoned in ca. 1812.  Instead, new, smaller nailers (called whistles) were used to hold the ca. 1812 chair rail.  Upon further inspection of the ca. 1797 nailers it was discovered that there were no nail holes in them, suggesting that they had never been used.  Similarly, the only evidence of nails found in the ca. 1797 baseboard nailers related only to the existing ca. 1812 baseboards.  When all of the evidence was combined and analyzed it was determined that a chair rail had never been installed in the room in ca. 1797.  Additionally, based on the height of the nailers and the fact that no baseboard had been was installed, it appears that instead of chair rails, Madison had originally planned on installing paneling in the room.


An unused ca. 1797 nailer on the ca. 1797 Dining Room's west wall.  Blue tape covers the reconstructed ca. 1812 chair rail that was installed using the original ca. 1812 nailers.