Category Archives: Mansion Musings

Alice Vaughan-Williams Martineau: An Englishwoman’s Crusade to Cultivate American Gardeners

On September 24, 1913, the British writer and garden designer Alice Martineau (ca. 1865–1956) set sail from Southampton for New York on the White Star Line’s legendary RMS Olympic, the enormous luxury ocean liner that was the sister ship of … Continue reading

Posted in Garden Musings, Mansion Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hold Your Horses: Bartow-Pell’s Carriage House

Danger! Keep Out! These were the ominous signs on a dilapidated outbuilding at Bartow-Pell in the 1980s. More than a century earlier, however, the air would have resonated with the clip-clop of horse shoes, an occasional whinny, and the smell … Continue reading

Posted in Mansion Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Latest Fashion: An 1840s Dress Tells All

Around 1840, there was a fashion reaction after women grew tired of the huge sleeves, broad shoulders, big bonnets, and sometimes outlandish hairstyles of the previous decade. It was time for a change. An 1840s silk dress in Bartow-Pell’s collection … Continue reading

Posted in Mansion Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Botanical Paradise: Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London

One summer day in 2009, while rummaging through some uncatalogued volumes in Bartow-Pell’s collection of antiquarian gardening books, we unearthed something unexpected—seven large editions of the lavishly illustrated publication Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London. The title is businesslike, … Continue reading

Posted in Garden Musings, Mansion Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dashing Through the Snow! Sleigh Riding in the 19th Century

“Ah! This looks like winter!” Snow started to fall in New York City at around two o’clock in the morning on Wednesday, January 21, 1846. It snowed hard all day, “and it wasn’t any of your common, pin-feather snow but … Continue reading

Posted in Mansion Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cheerful and Bright (and Smoky): Staying Warm in 19th-Century American Homes

Stories about the effects of cold weather in the 19th century are plentiful. Ink sometimes froze. Pitchers cracked and broke overnight when the water in them turned to ice. Bitterly cold wind made its way through poorly sealed windows and … Continue reading

Posted in Mansion Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If This Mahogany Desk Could Talk: A Colorful Tale of Aaron Burr and His Wives

An unpretentious mahogany desk from the 1830s might easily go unnoticed in Bartow-Pell’s upstairs parlor. Although this ordinary piece is of little interest to connoisseurs of fine furniture, the fact that it belonged to the tempestuous patriot Aaron Burr definitely … Continue reading

Posted in Mansion Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments