The Manor House, Room by Room: The Library

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The Graylyn library was the Gray family’s favorite sitting room. It’s easy to understand why as you step inside the room and take in the floor to ceiling ornately carved oak paneling. It may even feel as if you’ve been transported to seventeenth century France, and in a way, you have.

Nathalie and Bowman Gray were visiting Paris in 1928 when they fell in love with these rare hand-carved oak paneled walls and doors in the Hotel d’Estrades, dating back to 1680 and the reign of King Louis XIV.  In fact, the wall paneling is from the room King Edward VII of England used as his Parisian office. 

Even when their estate was still in its planning stages, Mrs. Gray was collecting souvenirs during her family’s travels that would be incorporated into the architecture and decor of Graylyn. She and her design consultant, Arthur C. Grafflin, knew this paneling would be perfect for the family’s library. 

Mr. Gray purchased the wall panels, and they were removed from the hotel in order to be shipped to Winston-Salem. However, things did not go quite as smoothly as planned. The French government attempted to stop the buyers from removing the carved panels from the building, but having already paid for them, Mr. Gray took his case all the way to the French Supreme Court, and won! 

The Graylyn library is one of the last period rooms in this country imported from France. 

Today, the library serves as a relaxing retreat for our guests. When the weather turns cold outside, you can warm up by the fire with a nice cup of coffee (or cocoa), nibble one of Mrs. Gray’s butterscotch cookies and, while taking in the history these walls hold, dreamily consider whether or not that is a bullet hole just to the right of the fireplace . . .

At Graylyn, every room has a story, and we would be delighted to share them with you.