On the Walls
In its original configuration (1828), the Casa's adobe walls were covered with a mud plaster to make them smooth and a lime wash to make them a uniform white. In the late 1850s, however, the de la Guerra family started experimenting with wallpaper. Wallpaper was a major part of what Patricia Flores called the “Victorianization” of the Casa that started after Jose de la Guerra’s death in 1858 and lasted until roughly 1909. Many of the new materials were brought from San Francisco by Jose’s son Pablo, a senator in Sacramento. In 1870, Miguel and Trinidad de la Guerra purchased rooms 1 and 2 and their descendants lived in them until 1943. The quality of the wallpaper used declined, perhaps reflecting the family’s economic decline.
The wallpaper remnants discovered in room 1 reflect the French Rococo Revival style of 1840-1870. Most of the wallpaper in the room was machine-printed, but at least one example archeologists found was block-printed. Each layer of wallpaper had both a main design and a border. Borders were commonly used both to hide hanging errors and rough edges and also include extravagant techniques like flocking and gilding that were too expensive for the whole wall.
Norman Neuerberg discovered five different wallpapers, four borders, and two patch papers in room 1. The first layer of wallpaper was attached to the adobe wall over a layer of mud plaster. Subsequent layers were applied directly over the previous one. One piece of patch wallpaper retained a manufacturers imprint: Gossler & Wagner, Phil.
Wallpaper in other rooms was applied directly to wooden planks on the circa 1910 framed walls of the east wing. Most of these were damaged damaged in July 1910 when Underhill removed the east wing roof to rebuild it.