Search Results for: floor cloth

What the heck is floorcloth?

1805 May 26. (Jefferson to Thomas Claxton). …I have desired Mr. Smilie (the person whom I was told you employed) to provide floorcloth for the hall and passage below only.”
1805 June 8. (Jefferson to James Dinsmore). “…I wish to have the hall floor painted … The painters here talk of putting a japan varnish over the painted floor and floor-cloth after the paint is dry, which they say will prevent its being sticky and will bear washing …”
1805 June 9. (Jefferson to Thomas Claxton). “The floor cloth for the hall is prepared and will be painted immediately in the Capitol.”


Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Today’s post has nothing to do with leadership!
After nearly 24 years as Thomas Jefferson, I know all the main aspects of his life, most of the not-so-well known aspects, and quite a bit of trivia. Every so often, though, I come across something new from his everyday life. Such is the subject of today’s post.

Floorcloth is fabric that has been painted and sealed and then used like we might use an area or throw rug, a runner or an accent piece. They were popular in the 1700s and 1800s but rendered obsolete by linoleum. The first excerpt above pertains to floorcloth in the President’s House, which we now call the White House. The second excerpt is for  Monticello, the third for the Capitol Building in Washington City.

According to this article,, both Washington and Jefferson imported floorcloth from England. This account even gives instructions for making your own, painting your design on the papery back side of a piece of vinyl flooring.

You can learn more about floorcloth at, the company cited in the article.

After nearly a quarter century of studying this man, it is fun to learn and add tidbits like this to my store of knowledge!

“The feedback from our conferees has been overwhelmingly favorable …”
Executive Director, Missouri Safety Council

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1 Comment Posted in Miscellaneous, Monticello Tagged , , , , , |

Would you paint your floors GREEN?

… I was at the painting room of mr Stewart (the celebrated portrait painter) who had first suggested to me the painting a floor green … the true grass-green, & as he had his pallet & colours in his hand, I asked him to give me a specimen of the colour … and I spreed it with a knife on the inclosed paper. be so good therefore as to give it to mr Barry as the model of the colour I wish to have the hall floor painted of. The painters here talk of putting a japan varnish over the painted floor and floor-cloth after the paint is dry, which they say will prevent it’s being sticky & will bear washing.
To James Dinsmore, June 8, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
What does this have to do with leadership?
Not much, though it does illustrate how minutely Jefferson was involved in his decades-long pet project, building and rebuilding his home, Monticello, and his careful attention to detail.

James Dinsmore was the skilled workman who produced much of the fine interior woodwork at Monticello. Mr. Barry was a house painter. “mr Stewart” was most likely Gilbert Stuart, the foremost portrait artist of the day. His subjects numbered around 1,000, including the first six Presidents.

If Gilbert Stewart recommended a “true grass-green” as a fitting floor paint color, that was good enough for Jefferson.

Floor cloths were explained in a previous post.

“It was truly amazing how you answered questions from the audience
without stepping out of character.”
Executive Director, Professional Land Surveyors of Ohio, Inc.
Mr. Jefferson will amaze your audience, too.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
2 Comments Posted in Monticello, Personal preferences Tagged , , , , , , , |