Author Archives: mansionmusings

The International Garden Club Goes International: The Barra School Children’s Garden Competition, 1936–1952

The Isle of Barra, a remote windswept island in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, is a world away from Bartow-Pell and New York City, but there is a fine story to be told about these two places and their forgotten connection. In … Continue reading

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Let’s Talk Silhouettes: An Edouart Conversation Piece

One hundred thousand. That is the astonishing number of recorded silhouette likenesses produced by the French-born artist Augustin Amant Constant Fidèle Edouart (1789–1861), according to British scholar Sue McKechnie. One of those portraits, a so-called “conversation piece,” is in Bartow-Pell’s … Continue reading

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Holidays Past: A Bartow Christmas in the Civil War Era

The year is 1860, and it’s Christmastime at the Bartow estate. The family’s home is in the country, but New York City, with all of its holiday temptations, is nearby. The start of the Civil War is just a few … Continue reading

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Chicken Pie and Blindman’s Buff: What You Might Not Know about an Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving

Pies, pies, and more pies. It must be Thanksgiving in the nineteenth century. Pumpkin pies, cranberry pies, huckleberry pies, cherry pies, green-currant pies, peach, pear, and plum pies, custard pies, apple pies, Marlborough-pudding pies [apple custard pie]—pies with top crusts, … Continue reading

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Here Lyes the Body: The Pell Family Burial Ground

Who isn’t intrigued by the idea of a cemetery around Halloween? For many people, an eerie frisson or two isn’t such a bad thing during this season. So now is a good time to visit the Pell family burial ground … Continue reading

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Bluestockings and Blue Bloods: The Pelham Priory School for Young Ladies

The girls came from all over. They were daughters of the nation’s elite, of people such as Robert E. Lee and Lincoln’s former Secretary of War Edward Stanton. They were Lorillards, Lefferts, and maybe even Bartows. In the nineteenth century, … Continue reading

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The Girl in the Portrait: Emma Beach and Mark Twain

The rain came down on wind-blown seas in New York Harbor on June 8, 1867, when about sixty-five passengers boarded the side-wheel steamship Quaker City for a highly publicized five-month “pleasure excursion” and pilgrimage to Europe and the Holy Land. … Continue reading

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