20th Century to the Present Day
In the early 1950s, the original Colonial house was restored to its c.1740 appearance by the architectural firm of Goodwin & Jaeger. The restoration involved stripping away the Victorian additions at the front of the house such as the tower, octagonal lantern, and deep entrance porch with second-story bay. The architects replaced the Victorian clapboards and shingles with flush siding of narrow boards. The Colonial interiors, which had been remodeled in the 1850s, were recreated using surviving 18th-century woodwork original to the house, mantelpieces and doors from other colonial-era homes, and reproduction architectural elements such as cornices and chair rails. The missing center chimney, however, was not reconstructed. The Victorian north wing and kitchen wing were retained to exhibit the mid-19th-century history of the Townsend family and to provide a caretaker’s apartment.
In 1958, the house underwent a second phase of restoration overseen by the architectural firm of Watland & Hopping, who improved the detailing of the Colonial wing. The architects removed the Victorian sidelights flanking the Dutch door, added a small entry porch, and replaced the conjectural narrow-board siding with sheathing of wide boards reproduced from a surviving 18th-century example discovered inside a wall cavity.
The first- and second-floor rooms in the Victorian north wing were restored and furnished to interpret the mid-19th-century history of Raynham Hall. The 1980s and 1990s witnessed the re-installation of the Colonial and Victorian period rooms to more accurately reflect domestic interiors of the 18th and 19th centuries. The sequence of Victorian period rooms was completed in 1998, when the kitchen and pantry in the 1860s kitchen wing were restored and opened to the public. Restoration of the house continues to preoccupy those charged with the museum’s operations, and is ongoing as new research comes to light or as conditions warrant.
Today, the Museum’s period rooms allow 21st century visitors a glimpse into the 18th- and 19th-century life of the Townsends of Oyster Bay and their households. In the front of the Museum, the rooms reflect the years of occupation by British forces, especially during Lt. Col. John Graves Simcoe’s tenure as commander of the British Queen’s Rangers in Oyster Bay. These rooms are rich in original Townsend furnishings as well as examples of early Long Island furniture. Period rooms in the Victorian part of the house, restored to the decade of the 1870s, are arranged with examples of the elaborate and stylish furnishings that would have been found in the home of Solomon Townsend II. The richly patterned wallpapers and carpets, expensively upholstered furniture, and decorative objects arranged on mantelpieces, tables and shelves contrast with the sparse elegance of the Colonial rooms.