The niche is framed by a pair of oak columns with highly distinctive hand-carved capitals.
The arch, which appears to be wood, is actually plaster painted to look like wood, and detailed with strips of Lincrusta.
There is a triple window with highly expressive trim above.
There is a east entrance door, and another door to the west for the telephone closet, and each topped with more highly expressive wood trim.
But…a lot of this is not readily evident. The bright light from the triple windows means that most of the expressive trim is hard to see. In addition, all the wood is quite dark, the result of old shellac (shellac darkens with age). The wood would have been lighter originally. There is also no light fixture in the niche.
In order to install central A/C, I had to run a duct just below the original ceiling of the niche. Thus, I need to install a lower ceiling in the niche to cover the new duct. I began this effort today. But then ran out of screws. So needed to refocus my time…
I had no plans to refinish wood today. But was, nonetheless, tremendously excited by the unexpected diversion.
However, a certain anxiety then arose. Drat!
Across from the niche, and above it, is the monumental staircase. It actually looks pretty good, finish-wise. There is, amazingly, no alligatoring, and there is — praise the Lord! — not really a compelling reason to spend 285 years refinishing it.
But the niche, which this morning was darker than the stair, is, this afternoon, lighter than the stair. So, I may have to use a tinted shellac on the niche wood to assure that it complements the stair, although this sets into motion the same dynamic I am currently having to fix: shellac darkens with age.
I will, of course, ponder this issue. But tonight I will dream of a gloriously restored niche.
Oh, the said gloriously restored niche will, when finished, be graced by a serpent pendant light fixture, thanks to Bo. I can’t wait.
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