A group of invitation-only guests and some local officials got the opportunity to see the newly-restored salon at last week.
The 80 guests, including Jan Matthysen, the ambassador from Belgium to the United States, and Wallace Loh, president of the University of Maryland, were among the first to see The Grand Salon in all its glory.
“The restored Grand Salon now ranks among the most beautiful examples of neo-classical design in the mid-Atlantic area”, said Patrick Gossett, President of the Riversdale Historical Society.
Work on the restoration, performed by nationally known artisans Matthew Mosca and Brandon Thompson, took over 18 months, and was funded by the , the owners of Riversdale. The paint on the walls was examined and chemically analyzed so that the original Paris green color of the early 1800s, could be recreated. Delicate columns, or “pilasters” were painstakingly restored to show their original intricate grapevine designs.
As Betty Hewlett, Chairman of the Prince George’s County Planning Board, Dr. Loh and Ambassador Matthysen cut the ceremonial ribbon, the doors to the salon were flung open by a re-enactor dressed as Rosalie Calvert, who welcomed the assembled guests to her home.
The original builder of the home, Henri Stier, came to the United States from Belgium in 1794 to escape the French Revolution, and construction was completed by his daughter, Rosalie, and her husband, George Calvert. Calvert was the grandson of the Fifth Lord Baltimore and a member of the state legislature of Maryland who later served in the U.S. House of Representatives. Riversdale is also known as "The Founder’s Home." as it was the Calvert’s son, Charles Benedict Calvert, who began the Maryland Agricultural College, which became the University of Maryland.
M-NCPPC and the Riversdale Historical Society are partners in the preservation, protection and presentation of the Museum, which is open to the public for tours each Friday and Sunday from Noon until 3:30pm, and for groups by special arrangement. More information and a schedule of upcoming events, including a Breakfast with Sint Niklaas, the Flemish forerunner of Santa Claus, and a nighttime tour with the Calverts by Candlelight can be found at the Society’s website, www.riversdale.org or by calling the Museum at 301-864-0420.