Author Archives: mansionmusings

Miss Lorillard’s Wedding in 1827: Did the Bride Wear White?

Maria Rosina Lorillard (1800–1880) was a wealthy twenty-six-year-old when she married Robert Bartow (1792–1868) in New York City on March 20, 1827. Did the bride wear white? This might seem like a silly question today, but as fashion historians know, … Continue reading

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The Wigwam at Bartow-Pell: A Living History for Students

In 2002, the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum was preparing to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the signing of a treaty on June 27, 1654, by Thomas Pell, his associates, and Lenape sachems. This treaty signified the transfer of land, which included … Continue reading

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Through the Looking Glass: A Pair of New York Pier Mirrors by Hosea Dugliss

Robert and Maria Bartow had a house to furnish. In 1842, when the couple moved into their brand-new residence on Robert Bartow’s ancestral Pelham Bay estate, they had probably purchased some furnishings for the superb Greek Revival interiors from shops … Continue reading

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Sugarplum Fantasy: Visions of Candy Long Ago

Lemon drops, cardamom comfits, coconut creams, almond taffy, chocolate cream drops, sugared almonds, violet drops, and rose drops offer just a small taste of the sugary confections that have enchanted past generations of candy lovers and inspired professional candy makers … Continue reading

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Soap, Optional (and What Is Shampoo?): The Sometimes-Surprising Bathing Habits of Americans in the Past

We’ve all seen the period films (or heard the spiel in historic houses) that depict cozy fireside baths in a tub filled with warm water by an obliging servant. But is that the whole story? And how did people’s bathing … Continue reading

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Pretty and Cool: A White Summer Dress, ca. 1895

Pretty white summer dresses were everywhere in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were lightweight and cool, and everyone looked fabulous in them, whatever the occasion. No wonder these gowns were so popular. In August 1897, a fashion … Continue reading

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Rose Garden Mania: A New York City Garden Club Joins the Craze in 1917

Rose gardens were definitely a thing in the early 20th century. The so-called Queen of Flowers—redolent of summer pleasures—filled gardens large and small with a heady mix of colors, scents, shapes, and sizes that ranged from subtle to dramatic. The … Continue reading

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A Carpet of Velvety Green: Lawns on 19th-Century Country Estates

A beautiful undulating carpet of fresh green grass was an essential luxury on 19th-century country estates. Today, that idea may seem fairly obvious, but why? And how did the landed gentry plant and maintain their expansive (and expensive) lawns in … Continue reading

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Just Up the Road: Henry James’s Cousin Minny Temple

About two miles up the road from the Bartow mansion—near the border of Pelham and New Rochelle, New York—24-year-old Mary “Minny” Temple (1845–1870) died of tuberculosis on March 8, 1870. Her first cousin the novelist Henry James (1843–1916) received the … Continue reading

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Multitasking Furniture: A Ladies’ Writing Fire Screen

Ladies, take your pick. Writing desks, worktables, dressing tables, and even a writing fire screen. All made just for you. Some pieces can even multitask. Starting in the 18th century, task-specific furniture—some made especially for women—appeared increasingly on the market. … Continue reading

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