Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Sztokman, Johanna (2014). Victorian Splendor: Analysis of the Late 19th Century Decorative Ceiling at Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion in Germantown, Pennsylvania. (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


The decorative ceiling in the Stevenson Bedroom of the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion in Philadelphia is one of the most outstanding examples of post-Centennial ornamental designs. The exotic, stylized, geometric pattern of the ceiling illustrates ideals set forth during the Centennial International Exhibition, held in Philadelphia in 1876, and emphasizes Victorians’ predisposition to live à la mode. However, as a result of harsh treatment conducted in the 1970’s and ‘80s and damaging environmental conditions, the ceiling design only partially remains today. This thesis considers an approach for interpreting decorative paintings where the original fabric is altered or missing. It argues that, in the absence of material evidence, an accurate estimation of decorative painting can be achieved by consulting a wide range of sources. Recommendations provided in this thesis incorporate raw data to create an authentic representation of a late 19th century interior, contributing to the historic interpretation of the site.


Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion, decorative painting, microscopy, color matching, digital reconstruction



Date Posted: 03 September 2014