Author Archives: mansionmusings

A Taste for Poetry: R. & W. A. Bartow, Asher B. Durand, Mozart’s Librettist, and British Verse

Poetry got people excited in the 19th century. Some readers appreciated its literary value, and others enjoyed it as a fashionable pursuit. It could cross the line between highbrow intellectualism and pop culture. Poetry set a certain tone and created … Continue reading

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Fresh Farm Milk from a Historic Estate: How a New York City Garden Club Helped the War Effort in 1918

It was time to step up. One hundred years ago, America had entered the First World War, and patriotic civilians were eager to contribute on the home front to help defeat the Germans. Meanwhile, milk prices in New York City … Continue reading

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Portrait of a Patron: Isaac Bell and Saint-Mémin

Who originally slept in Bartow-Pell’s Lannuier bed? Isaac Bell (1768–1860) and his wife, Mary Ellis Bell (1791–1871), of New York City commissioned the bedstead from Charles-Honoré Lannuier (1779–1819) upon their marriage in 1810, and the cabinetmaker completed it between 1812 … Continue reading

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Fashion Passion Redux: Making Reproduction 1850s Undersleeves

Wearing a new dress is fun—and accessories are part of the excitement. Who doesn’t want to create the perfect look? That hasn’t changed over time, and it is as true for historical interpreters as it is for trendy fashionistas. Besides, … Continue reading

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Sleeping Beauty: A Romantic Ruin Awakes

In 1914, the beautiful old Bartow mansion was falling apart. Overgrown ivy crept up the walls and over the windows of the derelict old stone building. Broken glass panes allowed rain, snow, wind, dirt, insects, and small animals to enter … Continue reading

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Theodoret and Sarah: A Bartow Love Story

It was an ill-fated Gilded Age romance. Theodoret, the handsome youngest son of Robert and Maria Bartow, fell in love with Sarah Elliott Marshall, a blond Southern beauty from Natchez, and married her in 1886. Although this privileged couple seemed … Continue reading

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Spills: Let There Be Light

What in the world are spills? A British dictionary published in 1855 defined a spill as “A strip of paper rolled up to light a lamp or cigar.” The word loosely derives from “spile,” a small wooden peg. Although “spills” … Continue reading

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