Painted floorcloths are a popular DIY project, but back in the day — way back — they were more than decorative accents.
A part of our country’s heritage, they have also gone by the names of floor cloth carpets, painted canvas, oil cloths (oyle cloths), floor canvases, checquered canvas, grease cloths, crumbcloths (crumcloths), or druggets.
They have graced the homes, including the White House, of at least three presidents.
According to research by the Wilton Historical Society, George Washington walked across them at Mt. Vernon. When John Adams left the White House, there was a floorcloth listed in the inventory. And Thomas Jefferson had at least two floorcloths on Pennsylvania Avenue. One lay in a small dining room to protect “a very handsome floor from grease and the scouring which that necessitates” and one was in the great hall. These floorcloths were probably painted plain green, according to the inventory.
The historical society owns a large green stenciled floorcloth that is in the dining room of the 1772 Fitch House. Children can learn all about stenciled floorcloths at a workshop on Saturday, March 4, from 11 to 12:30.