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Sign for the Grosvenor Inn
1772-1786
Paint on pine board, posts of unidentified hardwood, iron hardware
Primary Dimensions (height x width including hardware): 52 1/2 x 32 3/4in. (133.4 x 83.2cm) Other (height x width of sign only): 47 x 32 3/4in. (119.4 x 83.2cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Benjamin Grosvenor, Mrs. John P. Grosvenor, Mrs. Florence G. Connell and Miss Constance Grosvenor
Gallery Copy: Although the signboard itself dates to the 18th century and the image of a black horse was common on signs of that era, this example is clearly stylistically different. According to Grosvenor family history, the old sign was discovered in a farm building in the late 19th century by Benjamin Hutchins Grosvenor, who, like Caleb Grosvenor before him, was an innkeeper. Ben Grosvenor had the sign “restored” and completely repainted by Augustus Hoppin, a well-known illustrator who summered in Pomfret.
Description: Images: On side 1, profile view of riderless black horse, galloping on green ground. On side 2, profile view of white horse, also galloping on green ground and carrying a rider (possibly George Washington) holding an early version of the American flag. Text: On both sides, on apron, "C*Grosvenor / 1765." Side 2 lacks the period after the date. Construction: Single board, grain oriented vertically, flat horizontal rails with integral pediment and skirt, vertical stiles, and also turned posts. The board is set into grooves in the inner edges of the stiles, which are in turn tenoned into the rails and double pinned. The rails extend up and down to form a decoratively-shaped pediment (now replaced ) and skirt. Rails are tenoned through the turned posts and double pinned. The picture panel is framed by two sets of moldings: first, decorative moldings cut into the inner edges of the rails and stiles, and second, applied ogee-shaped molding strips, mitered at corners, nailed to the faces of the rails and stiles. The accuracy of its profile, exactly mirroring the skirt, cannot be confirmed. No evidence of the original pediment shape survived the restoration, and may not even have existed at that time, prompting a conjectural design.
Technique Note: The two horses may have originated from a single drawing or template, as they are very close in form and positioning. Outlines appear to have been transferred onto the board using incised or scribed lines to indicate the forms prior to painting. The flag carried by the equestrian rider displays the design of the Cambridge or Grand Union flag of 1776. Historical Note: Original location. An advertisement in the New London Gazette for 10 March 1786 describes the Grosvenor tavern stand, located in the western section of Pomfret, known as Abington: "To be SOLD or LET, And entered immediately, A FARM containing about 300 acres, situated in Pomfret, Abington society, on the middle post-road leading from Hartford to Boston, with a large dwelling-house (which is now and has been for a number of years improved as a public house) and barn thereon. Said Farm is under good improvement, has an excellent orchard, which will make 80 barrels of cider annually, is well proportioned for mowing, pasturing, plowing and wood, and well watered. Said Farm will be sold for part hard money, part public securities, and part English or West-India goods, as may best suit the purchaser.-For further particulars, enquire of CALEB GROSVENOR, living on said Farm." The Ben Grosvenor Inn opened ca. 1872 in a different farmhouse, located on the north-south Norwich-Worcester Turnpike, which was also known as Pomfret Street. The original two story farmhouse had been built as a parsonage by the Reverend Aaron Putnam, circa 1758-62. It remained a private residence until purchased by Benjamin H. Grosvernor in 1871. Pomfret was then becoming a fashionable summer resort, and Grosvenor began taking in summer boarders the following year. By 1875 he was expanding the inn and its operations. He enlarged the inn, effectively enclosing the old homestead within a larger building with three-story, porticoed façade. The Ben Grosvernor Inn eventually provided housing for two hundred guests, with over nine hundred acres of farmland supporting the operation. The Ben Grosvenor Inn ceased operations in the early 1940s and was sold to the Pomfret School in 1944. It was demolished in 1960.
Object Number: 1963.52.0
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