Otis House

The Parlor Mantle

Federal era design was greatly influenced by the classical civilizations of Rome and Greece.  In 1738, the Roman city of Pompeii was re-discovered, and excavations there received great attention in Europe and America.  Motifs and designs were copied from Pompeii and were soon found in American decorative settings. Most of the ornament in the Otis House is neoclassical.  On the fireplace mantle, for example, urns, flower garlands, and classically dressed figures can all be found.

The border at the top of the wall paper is called “Scenes from Pompeii,” and the carpet is reminiscent of Pompeian tiles. Even the bright colors on the walls were copied from Pompeian villas. In America, this fascination with ancient Rome spread into the political arena as well. After the American Revolution, Americans began creating new systems of government based on the republican governments of ancient Greece and Rome.