Three self-made, wealthy businessmen—two in Wethersfield, Connecticut, and one in Marblehead, Massachusetts—gambled, and lost, everything for the American Revolution. Before fomenting rebellion, the same three—Joseph Webb, Jr., Silas Deane and Jeremiah Lee—lavishly decorated their homes to levels previously unprecedented in their communities. In an upcoming lecture at the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, historian Judy Anderson will draw intriguing parallels between the lives of Webb, Deane and Lee, and explain why the three aesthetes’ refined tastes compelled them to take part in the revolution, and why their roles in support of independence cost them their lives. Fortunately, their extravagant homes survive to tell the tale.
Anderson’s illustrated lecture will explore the architecture and interiors of the Webb and Deane houses in relation to the extraordinary residence of Colonel Jeremiah Lee, one of the wealthiest men in mid-18th century Massachusetts. Anderson will focus on the textiles, wall coverings and decorative finishes that would have embellished the houses, including bold and exuberant block-printed wallpapers imported from London, and exceptional English mural papers whose hand-painted, large-format scenes simulated engravings in the home of Lee. Those rare and striking wall coverings would have created some of the most opulent interiors of their era.
Anderson suggests that by the 1770s, men like Webb, Deane and Lee realized that the ever-increasing taxes and trade restrictions imposed by the English crown would soon make it impossible to maintain the lifestyles to which they had become accustomed. The logical alternative? Join the revolution. During her lecture, Anderson will reveal the unraveling of the lives of Webb, Deane and Lee while illuminating their exquisite taste in décor.