Sawyer Home and Grounds
Grand Hall and Staircase
Inside the home through the broad, bronze-grilled double doors, was the spacious grand hall. The grand hall was constructed with twelve-foot ceilings and was finished in quarter sawn white oak. Overhead was an iridescent Tiffany ceiling fixture. The grand staircase leading to the second floor was situated immediately in front of the entrance in the grand hall. The staircase was finished in quarter sawn white oak panels and newel posts, each hand-carved with a different design. The staircase’s upper landing featured expansive Tiffany stained glass windows depicting a forest scene. A rich, wool runner covered the stairs. To the left of the entrance, opposite the den, was a columned opening framing a recessed oak fireplace with dark marble surround. The fireplace was flanked with two built-in wall benches and detailed floral woodcarving. From the grand hall, an ornate bronze elevator cage with sliding oak doors could be seen down a short side hall leading to the dining room. The entrance and grand hall were designed to be most inviting to visitors.
The Sawyer Grand Hall and Staircase remain a focal point of the Museum today. The original Tiffany stained glass windows on the stair landing are the most notable Tiffany features at the Museum. The glass is now backlit with a new lighting system that provides the window with a pure, glowing, even source of light. The landing also displays oil painting portraits of Philetus and Melvina Sawyer original to the stairway’s wall décor. Original woodwork and a Tiffany ceiling fixture remain intact, while wall light fixtures have been replicated to accurately depict the original character of the home. Several of the Museum’s sculptures are exhibited in the grand hall, and a memorial to Nile Behncke, the first director of the Oshkosh Public Museum, hangs above the grand hall fireplace. Over 100 years after its construction, the grand hall and grand staircase still serve as a gathering place for many Museum guests.