In federal period New England, between the years 1778 and 1840,
the plain plastered walls in hundreds of homes were made cheery
and bright with the lively folk art that sprang from the humble
paint brushes of travelling artisans. Below, I detail many of
the historic New England homes whose walls were stenciled with
the iconic patterns attributed to New Hampshire farmer and artisan,
Moses Eaton, Jr.
home was built in 1775 by Abijah Waterman, in the small coastal
town of Waldoboro. The
stately white Federal home sits atop a lovely hill, surrounded
by verdant fields and lush woodlands. The
stenciling, attributed to Moses Eaton, Jr., is found in the
home’s main entry way and in the stairwell reaching
up to the
second floor. Motifs stenciled in this home include: Maine Pineapple,
Oak Leaf Cluster, and Four Fan Flowers with Leaves.
stenciling in this Kennebec County circa 1783 home is attributed
to Moses Eaton, Jr. Stenciling attributed to Eaton is also found
in the neighboring town of Vassalboro. In the 1800’s Sidney
was a farming community, with its main crop being hay. Motifs
stenciled in this home include: Maine Pineapple, Large Flower
Spray, and Maine Flower Basket.
Cape Cod style home was built along the Sebec River in 1785.
In the late 1700’s this home served as a “portage” house.
For 25 cents a night, this house offered weary river travelers
a place to sleep. The stenciled walls were found in a part of
the house that was built in the 1820’s. The stenciling
is attributed to Moses Eaton, Jr. and was most likely done between
the years of 1828-1835. Records indicate that the stenciling
was done during a snowstorm, and took the stenciler, most likely
Moses Eaton, Jr., a week to complete. Motifs stenciled in this
home include: Large Flower Spray, Small Flower Spray, Weeping
Willow, Maine Flower Basket, Oak Leaf Cluster, Four Fan Flowers,
and Maine Pineapple.
On one of his trips Down East, sometime between the years of
1820-1840, Moses Eaton, Jr. traveled along West Kennebunk Road
and arrived at the c1750 David Thompson House. Here, he offered
to stencil the walls in the home with his colorful repertoire
of folk art designs. The designs and patterns Eaton chose for
this home are, in my opinion, some of his most beautiful offerings.
He covered the walls with cheery folk art designs that spoke
to the beauty of nature, and the coming of spring. The pineapples,
maple leafs, flower sprays and sunflowers that graced the walls
in the David Thompson house surely brought joy to the families
who lived there, reminding them of warmer days in the midst of
the long Maine winters. Unfortunately, the David Thompson house
was destroyed in the early 20th century, but not before some
of the early researchers had the opportunity to view, photograph,
and document the walls. A section of a stenciled wall from this
house was saved, and it is now displayed at the Brick Store
Museum, in Kennebunk, Maine. Motifs stenciled in this home
include: Small Flower Spray, Sunflower, Maple Leaf with Wreath,
and Feather Flower.
Deacon Increase built this home in 1815 using the lumber he
cut and planed from his own saw mill. The stenciling in this
home is attributed to Moses Eaton, Jr. Motifs found in this home
include: Large flower spray, asymmetrical weeping willow, and
Maine flower basket.
1820, Peter Dunn built a tavern in the Kennebec County area
once known as “Washington Plantation” and later
incorporated as Mount Vernon. Mr. Dunn not only ran the tavern,
but also operated the General Store and Post Office in town.
Stenciling attributed to Moses Eaton, Jr. Motifs found in this
tavern include: Maine Pineapple, Oak Leaf Cluster, Large
Flower Spray, and Four Fan Flowers motif.
one of his trips Down east, Moses Eaton, Jr. traveled along
the Buxton Road in North Saco and arrived at the c1728 Grant
House. Here, he offered to stencil the walls in the home with
his colorful repertoire of folk art patterns. In a hallway of
the home, Eaton chose a “three big oak leaves” frieze
to run along the tops of the walls, and a graceful green leaf
design to top the chair rail. He then divided the walls into “panels” with
the use of a “diamond and petal” vertical design,
and finished by placing pineapples, and oak leaf clusters within
the panels. Undoubtedly, the proud red and green pineapples stenciled
by Eaton 200 years ago have cheerfully “welcomed” all
who entered this lovely and historic home. Motifs found in this
home include: Small Flower Spray, Maine Flower Basket, Oak Leaf
Cluster, Four Fan Flowers with Leaves, Traditional Pineapple,
Sunflower, and Maple Leaf with Wreath.
the Kennebec County town of East Vassalboro there is a home
with stenciling attributed to Moses Eaton, Jr. In this Cape Cod
style home, the extant stenciling was discovered under five layers
of wallpaper. Motifs stenciled in this home include: Maine Flower
Basket, Asymmetrical Weeping Willow, Maine Pineapple, Oak Leaf
Cluster, Four Fan Flowers, Zinnia, and Maple Leaf with Wreath.
1.5 story Cape Cod style home was built by Tobias Ricker in
1824. The stenciling found in this home
is attributed to Moses Eaton, Jr. One of the walls in this
home includes an all-over design that featured five different
motifs. Motifs found in this home include: Oak Leaf Cluster,
Maine Pineapple, Zinnia, Feather Flower, and Maple Leaf with
the lovely coastal town of West Newbury, Massachusetts a circa
1823 Greek revival home has beautiful stenciling in one of
the upstairs bedchambers. Red and green motifs and designs
are striking against canary yellow walls. Eaton
stenciled around the top of the walls with his interesting “acanthus
leaf” frieze, and he chose the pretty “rose and leaf” border
for the baseboard and overmantle. The room was divided into panels
by an unusual vertical stencil called “lighted candle”. The
panels were filled with flower sprays and oak leaf clusters.
The overmantle included primitive flower baskets, and Eaton stenciled
two lone weeping willow trees in the space between the front
windows. Years ago, the stenciling was authenticated by Historic
New England/SPNEA as the work of Moses Eaton, Jr. I had the opportunity
to see the stenciling while the home was up for sale. It is my
hope that the new owners enjoy the historic stenciling found
in the little bedchamber, and that the timeless tradition brought
to this home by Moses Eaton, Jr. endures. Motifs found in this
home include: Primitive Flower Basket, Oak Leaf Cluster, Large
Flower Spray, and Weeping Willow.
the spring of 1815, newlyweds Dolly and Caleb Wheeler, Jr.
became the proud owners of a home located in the heart of Bolton,
Massachusetts. Shortly thereafter, it is believed that the
Wheelers hired itinerant stenciler, Moses Eaton, Jr. to brighten
their plain plastered walls. He filled several rooms with gay
patterns and designs that spoke of the hope and promise of
spring. Like the home in West Newbury, Moses Eaton, Jr. chose
the “acanthus leaf” frieze for one of the rooms.
Stenciled hearts, cheery and red, along with sweet flower sprays,
dance beneath the wonderful “pine tree and crossed boughs” frieze
in the front hallway, greeting all who enter the big colonial
home with homespun warmth. The front parlor sports a seldom seen
frieze of small star-like flowers with delicate leaves. Surely,
the hearts that Eaton incorporated into two of his well-known
designs, and stenciled in the hallway and parlor, were symbolic
of the love and devotion of the recently wedded couple. Motifs
found in this home include: Large and Small Flower Spray, Primitive
Flower Basket, Four Fan Flowers, and Feather Flower with Heart.
Great Road in Acton, Massachusetts, a stately hip-roofed colonial
home, known as the John Robbins House, was visited by Moses
Eaton, Jr. It is believed that Eaton traveled along Great Road
sometime around 1830, and at the John Robbins house he left
in his trail several walls full of cheery folk art design.
This home has a very interesting history, as it was one of
the four “Lottery Houses” built in Acton
around 1800. In 1794, Harvard sponsored a lottery in order to
raise funds for a new dormitory. Four neighbors from Acton purchased
the winning ticket, and some of the winnings were used to build
this home. Originally, the stenciling filled the center hallway
and continued up the stairs and around the second floor landing.
However, due to the poor condition of the walls, most of the
stenciling has been painted over. At the top of the stairs, two
panels of the extant stenciling remain. Like the homes in West
Newbury and Bolton, Eaton chose the interesting “acanthus
leaf” frieze to top the walls in the John Robbins House,
and he placed bold red medallions amongst the leaves. Eaton stenciled
a baseboard of large green leaves, and divided the walls into
panels with his “diamond and petal” vertical. Filling
the panels, we find a circular “four fan flowers” motif
and oak leaf clusters with hearts. Eaton incorporated hearts
into the oak leaf clusters, perhaps in celebration of a new bride
beginning her new life in the John Robbins House. Closely inspecting
the wall, it appears that Eaton washed the walls in raspberry
or salmon-pink before stenciling his signature red and green
motifs. Motifs found in this home include: Oak Leaf Cluster with
Heart, and Four Fan Flowers motif.
The circa 1782 Moses Eaton Jr.
House is a cape style home, with an attached barn. An ancient
maple tree, 200 years old, stands proudly in the front yard.
Behind the house, the fields that used to bloom with the crops
that Eaton, Jr. grew still remain. Ancient stone walls lining
the property complete the pastoral setting. When Moses Eaton,
Jr. was 39, he bought this farm in Harrisville, NH just down
the road from his childhood home in Hancock. He married Rebecca
Plant of Dublin, NH, and they had two daughters and a son.
He stenciled the soft raspberry walls in the front parlor of
his home with beautiful red and green patterns and motifs.
In his later years he farmed his land and on occasion continued
his stenciling journeys around New England. In 1886, at the
age of 90, Eaton died at his home in Harrisville. His descendents
continued to live in this home until the year 2002. Motifs
found in this home include: Small Flower Spray, Primitive Flower
Basket, Four Fan Flowers Motif.
Freese House was a big white center-chimney colonial. It was
built in Deerfield around 1805 by Andrew Freese. Moses Eaton,
Jr. traveled through the small farming town of Deerfield, and
stenciled the walls in several establishments, including this
home. The patterns and designs created by Eaton Jr. often reflected
the brilliance of nature. In the parlor of this home, Eaton
stenciled patters that reflected the splendor of New England
in the summer. Motifs found in this home include: Large Flower
Spray, Primitive Flower Basket, Oak Leaf Cluster with Heart,
and Weeping Willow.
some point in the early 1800’s it is believed that
Moses Eaton Jr. traveled through the small farming community
of Epping, New Hampshire. In the 1970’s Margaret and Edward
Fabian recorded and documented the lovely folk art stenciling
found in this home. Motifs found in this home include: Small
Flower Spray, Primitive Flower Basket, Feather Flower, Oak Leaf
Cluster, Four Fan Flowers Motif, and Weeping Willow.
the little town of Temple, NH, there is a rambling old farmhouse
just visible beyond an ancient stonewall. This
is the house that Elias Colburn built in 1781 for his wife
and four children. Around 1824 when Elias’ son was
to be married, a small bedchamber in the attic was made ready
for his new bride, Jane Parker. Moses Eaton, Jr, from the nearby
town of Hancock, stenciled the walls of this bridal chamber
with his cheery red and green designs and motifs. I just love
the motifs and patterns that Moses Eaton, Jr. chose for this
tiny attic room. I think that some of his most beautiful designs
are found here. Eaton Jr. stenciled the baseboard with a pattern
of large leaves, and topped the walls with his festive “arch
and candle” frieze. The pretty “rose and leaf” pattern
was also used as a border along one edge of the wall. The walls
were divided into panels by his diamond and petal verticals.
Primitive Flower Baskets, Moses Eaton Wreaths, Oak Leaf Clusters,
Four Fan Flowers Motifs and darling little flower sprays with
heart accents filled the panels in a lively display.
the town where Franklin Pierce, fourteenth President of the
United States was born and raised, Moses Eaton, Jr. stenciled
his trademark folk art motifs. At the c 1815 Withington Home,
red and green motifs were stenciled directly on gray plastered
walls. Motifs stenciled in this home include: Small Flower Spray,
and the Moses Eaton Wreath.