In February 2022, Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters saw the completion of its first major room restoration since 2014 with the opening of the Girls’ Bed Chamber. Generously supported by the Friends of the Owens-Thomas House, the southwest bed chamber on the home’s upper level has been beautifully reimagined as the primary space for George and Sarah Owens’s three daughters, Mary, Sarah, and Margaret.
The room has been restored to its 1830s finishes of lavender-gray walls, faux grained baseboards and window panels, and white trim, recovered through paint analysis. Cyndi Sommers, former assistant curator of decorative arts, worked with FOT Board member Chuck Chewning and local business owner Nikki Greenwood of Savannah Window Fashions to select blue and white toile, a popular fabric during the period, for upholstery and bedding. Thistle Hill Weavers, a firm that specializes in making reproduction fabrics on historic looms, created dimity for the window and bed curtains and the “Venetian carpet.” Dimity appears frequently in Savannah probate inventories and newspapers advertisements from the early nineteenth century, and Savannah merchants often advertised these colorful floor coverings among their imports from England, despite their name.
These new, old finishes provide a stunning setting for some of the excellent portraits in Telfair’s collection, such as Jeremiah Theus’s rendition of Peggy Wagner holding a peach. Other objects in the room, like an 1830s miniature blue and white porcelain tea set, gesture to the Owens daughters’ preparation for domestic futures even in play. A bed roll visible beneath the daybed serves as a poignant reminder of the six unnamed enslaved girls under ten who are listed as living on the site in the 1840 US Census, some of whom may have been forced to stay in the room with the Owens girls and serve them throughout the night.