The Salon Doré, originally constructed and installed in the Hôtel de la Trémoille in 1781, has reopened in San Francisco’s Legion of Honor over 5500 miles from its original Parisian home. Legion of Honor curator, Martin Chapman, began conservation efforts early 2013 to return the room to its original intended use, as a salon de compagnie. The room will be an all-encompassing environment, harkening back to the reign of Louis XVI, with 18th century-style furnishings arranged according to the room’s original floor plan. The restored Salon Doré will set a new standard for American period rooms; acting not as a backdrop for antiques but as the historic artifacts themselves.
The Salon Doré is not only a historical treasure, but one that has survived three instances of near-destruction. It has been relocated six times since 1781. When its first home, the Hôtel de la Trémoille, was demolished to make way for the grand boulevards comprising Baron Haussmann’s renovation of Paris in 1877, the Marquise de Croix relocated the Salon Doré paneling to her new home on the first floor of the Hôtel d’Humières. In 1905, the Hotel d’Humières was demolished to make way for new apartment complexes and the salon panels were bought by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild to adorn the walls of his new house in England. Less than ten years later, the ownership of the orphan salon changed hands again, this time to American Otto Kahn who installed the panels within his mansion on Fifth Avenue at 91st Street in New York City. The masterpiece was relocated twice more before finally being gifted by HVAC manufacturer Richard Rheem, to the Legion of Honor.
EverGreene Architectural Arts worked alongside Legion of Honor and advised on the perceivable historic authenticity of particular paint types. Preservation, restoration and conservation are the crux of EverGreene’s mission. The Salon Doré is one of the oldest structures EverGreene conservators have helped to restore. Revitalizing archaeological artifacts—ones that have endured both time and displacement—and preserving their didactic worth for the enrichment of the contemporary public is an uplifting experience. It is and honor and a rare opportunity to contribute our expertise and knowledge of historic structures and treatments to a room with a narrative so demonstrative of architectural perseverance and turbulence.