Much of Hibernia's appearance today is the result of changes and extensions made by Colonel Franklin Swayne between 1895 and 1910. His architectural additions and furnishings reflect his admiration of English manor style and taste.
The massive lion heads at the entrance to the estate became Swayne's symbol. He purchased them on one of his 29 trips to England and had them installed in impressive pillar gate posts.
It is said that the east wing, or ballroom, was added after his marriage to Dolly Clifford, an English actress, to host grand Christmas parties in the old English tradition. The large fireplace was designed to accommodate the traditional Yule Log The legend is that only one such party was held, in 1903, and for whatever reason, the couple parted soon thereafter.
The Colonel is thought to have been the one to have the stone exterior covered with coppery peach aggregate stucco. A 33-foot wide "pavilion" projects more than a foot from the wall of the original facade of the south wall of the big house. The four-foot deep windowsills in the front hall are a part of this change, as well as the relocation of the main entrance to this wall. Grand-scale casement windows were introduced and the two-story quarter round turrets added.
Much of the furniture in the mansion today belonged to Swayne, including
several of the rugs, most wood pieces, the pianos, wall decorations,
engravings, paintings, and major upholstered pieces. All of the
furniture in the dining room was Swayne's but the china, appropriate to
the period has been donated. Of particular note in the dining room is
his Empire sideboard with claw feet in back as well as in the front. The
ballroom has been painted a deep apricot, as it was originally, and the
elaborate mirror has been regilded.
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