Category Archives: Mansion Musings

Beneath the Grime: A Dazzling Center Table Revealed

Decorative arts specialist and BPMM Curatorial Committee Chair Carswell Rush Berlin writes about a center table in Bartow-Pell’s collection and discusses its classical origins, stencil decoration of American furniture in the 1820s and ‘30s, and the table’s recent conservation treatment. … Continue reading

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Beyond Calico and Gingham: Fashion and the Irish-Immigrant Domestic Servant

One summer day in 1867, Catharine Burns, “a poor servant girl,” boarded the Fulton Ferry in Brooklyn while lugging a valise full of her clothing, according to the New York Herald (September 11, 1867). She was on her way to … Continue reading

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Pell Family Portraits: Amelia Grace Pell Craft and William E. Craft

A rare pair of portraits depicting Pell descendant Amelia Grace Pell Craft (1806–1888) and her husband, William Edward Craft (1800–1852), are recent additions to Bartow-Pell’s collection. These works, which date to about 1843, were painted by an unknown artist, probably … Continue reading

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All the Colors of the Rainbow: Ombré Patterns from 1820 to 1850

Luminous, colorful, undulating—and sometimes even iridescent—the new French ombré wallpapers and textiles of the 1820s were so vibrant that these nuanced designs in shades of one or more colors were often called rainbow patterns. They were also known as irisé … Continue reading

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Nineteenth-Century Women Lean In

In honor of Women’s History Month, BPMM Education Committee Chair and board member Joseph P. Cordasco discusses the different lives of two women—both born in the nineteenth century—whose portraits hang at Bartow-Pell. When I tour historic places, I often wonder … Continue reading

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Baubles and Bling: Holiday Trees Sparkle at Bartow-Pell

Sparkling baubles gleam like diamonds and rubies. Treasures from the woods, fields, and shore bring nature’s beauty inside. Handmade ornaments recall a charming childhood Christmas in the Victorian era. Lace adds a touch of delicate luxury. And festive decorations celebrate … Continue reading

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Mourning Marietta: A Family Story in Portraiture

Mary Jane and Daniel T. MacFarlan sat for this large double portrait about three years after the death of their young daughter Marietta. What is the story behind this handsome couple? And what can the portrait tell us about mourning … Continue reading

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Behind the Closed Door: Privacy by Design in 19th-Century Houses

She knocked at the parlor door, “and was answered by a low ‘come in.’ She opened it, entered, and closed it.” (Eliza Meteyard, Mainstone’s Housekeeper, 1864) Yes, that’s right. Doors—like the one in this novel from the 1860s—were generally kept … Continue reading

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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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