As a unique room designed by renowned late 19th - early 20th century architect and designer Stanford White, the library of the William Watts Sherman House is considered an exemplary representation of American decorative art and architecture.
The purpose of this report is to analyze and make recommendations to Salve Regina University, the present owner of the building, in regards to the Library. This study will involve, but is not limited to, a survey of the room’s history, including information about the designer, former inhabitants, and historical functions. It will draw on a large number of research venues, including historic maps, photographs, illustrations, drawings, diagrams, floor-plans, measured drawings, scientific analysis methods, wills, land evidence records, and other legal documents of previous owners.
In addition, this report will also include an intimate analysis of the room through the utilization of methodologies coming from the emergent field of Material Culture Studies, which will yield information of an evolving culture. As this report will attempt to track the various changes of the room over time, materials and methods of construction will be included.
Furthermore, works from contemporary authors will be consulted in regards to “country living”, socioeconomic conditions characteristic of Newport throughout the Gilded Age, architecture, interior design, and book collecting. To gain a basic understanding of the Sherman family history, both a cursory genealogical study and oral history project was undertaken.
We intend to conclude with an interpretation of the room which will include the room’s significance and relevance to our own time and place. Our interpretation will form the basis of future recommendations for this room, with goals that are consistent with the preservation and the possible utility of the room. Ultimately, we will be left with a valuable document that can be employed as an informative tool for research.
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