Rundlet-May House

Classical Bounty in the Parlor

Perhaps inspired by the great Salem, Massachusetts carver Samuel McIntire, this carved basket motif on the frieze above the parlor fireplace symbolizes abundance and bounty. An overall large payment was recorded in James Rundlet’s account ledgers to carver William Deering for “carved work and carved capitals.”  Deering had a reputation as a skilled craftsman in Portsmouth. He had been employed to do interior carving for Gov. John Langdon’s elegant mansion nearby, and was a highly skilled carver for a number of Portsmouth civic buildings including the New Hampshire Fire and Marine Insurance building (now the Portsmouth Athenaeum) in addition to his work as a carver on ships in Portsmouth. The fireplace carving at Rundlet-May House is of considerable technique and the carver would have been familiar with a number of sources for the carved elements.