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American Period Rooms

The Duluth Living Room



Come in and experience a little culture.

This living room was once part of the home of William and Mina Merrill Prindle, in Duluth, Minnesota. The Prindles were an important couple in Duluth. William Prindle was a real estate developer who worked hard to draw people to Duluth, while Mina Prindle helped bring music and the arts to the town. When Mrs. Prindle hired the well-known interior designer John Scott Bradstreet in 1904 to decorate their new home, she wanted to show others that Duluth was a civilized, cultured place to live.

Bradstreet, who lived in Minneapolis, often traveled to Japan. On one trip, he had learned about a technique called jin-di-sugi, in which cypress wood is buried for many years and then dug up. The rot and decay created interesting patterns. Bradstreet discovered a way to produce the same effect much faster, using chemicals. This treated wood became his trademark, and he used it for all the paneling and wood furniture in the Prindles’ living room.

Other signs of Bradstreet’s interest in Japanese design appear throughout the room. As in Japanese art, many of the decorative patterns were inspired by nature. The table near the fireplace, called the “lotus table,” is carved to resemble a water lily popular in Asian art. Many of the chairs and tables have carved designs of flowers and imaginary creatures. Above the bench by the table hangs a picture of a Japanese woman. And though not shown in the picture, a Japanese birdcage adds to the room’s exotic look.

spacer related images 1.  + 2.  + 3.  + bracket spacer
1. This room came from a house in Duluth, Minnesota.
2. The top of the Lotus Table represents the blossoms of the plant. The pedestal and table base are formed to look like the stem and roots.
3. This furniture was also made with the jin-di-sugi method. If you zoom in close, you can see different flower and animal designs carved into the wood.


February 2005