Whaley House's New Custom Stair Carpet Woven on Historic Loom
By Dean Glass
With its reputation as a hot spot of paranormal activity, the ninth step is arguably the most famous of the Whaley House staircase, but this newly-installed period stair carpet makes the other sixteen steps just as attractive. Photo by Sandé Lollis
A beautiful new stair carpet made especially for the Whaley House by Family Heirloom Weavers was recently installed as part of SOHO's ongoing restoration and maintenance of the Old Town San Diego museum. Our curatorial team selected a sumptuous, 19th-century rosette pattern in forest green against a dark tan background that Family Heirloom Weavers found in the textile collection of the Goldey Paley Design Center at Philadelphia University. The Crompton & Knowles loom used to weave the carpet dates from the 1930s and also came from Philadelphia University. Originally designed to weave terry cloth, the loom has been adapted to weave narrow stair carpets. The Jacquard attachment mounted above the loom was built in Philadelphia by the Halton Company in the 1940s.
Located outside Philadelphia in Red Lion, Pennsylvania, Family Heirloom Weavers is a textile mill cum museum with a collection of forty 19th- and early 20th-century looms rescued from the scrap heap and restored to working condition. Using solely American-made materials, such as raw goods from the Carolinas and dyed yarns from Philadelphia, the company specializes in textiles made on their historic looms using traditional techniques. Textiles manufactured by Family Heirloom Weavers have appeared in movies such as Cold Mountain, Gods and Generals, 3:10 to Yuma, and The Hateful Eight.
The new carpet replaces a gold, red, and blue runner made from a remnant of the Whaley House parlor carpet in the 1854 Rococo Medallion design, which served the museum for over ten years before beginning to wear through.