Kingston’s Fred J. Johnston House is getting a holiday makeover, courtesy of one of America’s top interior designers.
New York designer Brian McCarthy, with help from area artists and stylemakers, will reinvigorate the Johnston House for the holidays by bringing his contemporary perspective to the 1812 Federal-style house’s period interiors and celebrated collection of American and European antiques.
The transformed rooms can be viewed 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8; and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, from Dec. 14 through Dec. 22. Admission is $10 for all dates except Dec. 7 and Dec. 8, which are designated “Community Days,” with free admission. Visits can also be arranged by appointment by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Johnston House, at Wall and Main streets uptown, is administered by the Friends of Historic Kingston (www.fohk.org), which has traditionally displayed the rooms as antiques dealer Fred J. Johnston originally decorated them.
“It’s a pleasure to combine my love for Ulster County and Kingston with my talents as a decorator, and an honor to be able to put my personal stamp on the Johnston House interiors,” said McCarthy, who has a home near Kingston. “These are rooms that symbolize Hudson Valley furnishings for so many people.”
Known for his skill at juxtaposing 18th, 19th and 20th century antiques with contemporary art, McCarthy participated in the 2012 Kips Bay Decorator Show House in New York City and was commissioned in 2005 to redecorate the State Rooms and private quarters of Winfield House, the American ambassador’s residence in London. McCarthy was also the first designer since 1913 to redesign a room in the Frick Collection in New York City.
With his own unique spin, he brings high-style traditionalism into the 21st century,” the editors of Veranda magazine recently wrote of McCarthy.
As part of the Johnston House’s new holiday look, McCarthy will be installing original work by two of Kingston’s most important artists of the past 20 years, Nancy Graves and Judy Pfaff.
Leading artisans and craftspeople from the region will also create holiday décor, including a series of holiday table settings and interior vignettes inspired by the Fred J. Johnston collection.
The table settings display, sponsored by Sav-On Party Center, will be designed by retailers High Falls Mercantile and Spruce, both of High Falls; Accord antiques dealer Ron Sharkey; design author Linda O’Keeffe; Grand and Water Antiques of Stonington, CT; and Haynes Llewellyn Associates.
Additional decorations for the Johnston House will be created by the Stockade, Ulster and Hillside garden clubs; designers David Cavallaro, Dan Giessinger and Steven Keith; food stylist Roscoe Betsill; Brian Lynch of Botanical Design, and Victoria St. John Gilligan.
The holiday events at the Johnston House are sponsored by Floyd Lattin, Adam and Renate Soyer, Brian McCarthy and Daniel Sager, and Haynes Llewellyn and Gary Swenson.
The Fred J. Johnston House was opened to the public in 1997 and is located in the heart of the 1658 Stockade National Register Historic District. Its restorer and last private owner Fred J. Johnston (1912-1993) was a nationally renowned antiques scholar and dealer whose clients included Henry F. du Pont, the founder of Delaware’s Winterthur Museum, and Richard Jenrette, the financier and preservationist.