Category Archives: Mansion Musings

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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George Inness’s The Woodchoppers (1858) on Display at Bartow-Pell

I wrote recently about Jasper Francis Cropsey’s Summer Landscape (1853). Today I would like to consider The Woodchoppers (1858), a landscape painting by Cropsey’s contemporary George Inness (1825–1894), another artist who came of age during the heyday of the Hudson … Continue reading

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Hats, Gloves, and Pearls: Fashion Promenade in the Garden, 1960

Runway twirls and a peek of frilly petticoats. Pearls. Women in hats and gloves. And a radiant bride in a tulle veil, of course. On a gloriously sunny Wednesday in May 1960, smiling models—most of them wearing gloves, the era’s … Continue reading

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