Gaineswood to re-open in mid-April

Published 12:31 am Saturday, March 13, 2010

The renovation being done to Demopolis mansion Gaineswood is expected to be completed in mid-April, and tours should resume soon after.

“It’s going to take us two or three weeks to get all of the furniture back into the rooms,” said Bruce Lipscombe, the director of collections and interpretations at Gaineswood. “We’re going to have to really clean the house, too, with all the dust after the interior renovations have been done.”

Perhaps the most striking difference noticed by area residents will be the color of the exterior, which will go from yellow to a white cream color.

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“We had a contributor come through about five years ago,” said Lipscombe. “He really investigated sites on the interior. He went down microscopically and analyzed each of the layers of paint, and this is what he came up with.

“These are the first coatings that he could identify, and that would be contemporary with when Gen. Nathan Bryan Whitfield was building his home, the way they saw the house around 1860. That’s what we’re aiming for. Our goal is that, if Nathan Bryan Whitfield were to walk through this house, he would say, ‘Yep, that’s how I left it.’”

Whitfield was the great-grandfather’s uncle of Lipscombe, who came to Demopolis from Waco, Texas, to tend to her ancestor’s mansion two years ago.

“We have so many artifacts that are original with the family,” Lipscombe said. “I think we achieved the original look in the dining room. So much of the furniture is original, and there are not many ways you can arrange the furniture!”

On April 20-22, the mansion will host Heritage Days, where schools will be invited to bring students in and activities including “living history” hosts to detail the history of the mansion and its families. There will also be a fencing performance, as the Whitcomb children took fencing lessons at the University of North Carolina — which the Whitcomb family helped to found — and often liked to show off their skills at the home.

“We will be open the week before that,” Lipscombe said.