15 February 2015

An Afternoon in 1820

I wouldn't want to be a modern maid, tasked with cleaning everyday. But it's fun to dress in period clothing and appear to do housework in a historic house...particularly when we take lots of breaks to discuss ads published in 1820 newspapers or gossip about the family. While I didn't take many photos during yesterday's  An Afternoon In 1820: Life at the Whitehorne House, here are some from our day, which include insight into our interpretation and the stories we shared with visitors, along with some snowy images debuting my 1820 maid's dress.

Kitty reads the latest papers. We are quite interested in purchasin a ticket for the literature lottery in New York. Though a chance costs $5, nearly a month's wages, there are two $25,000 prizes! One gentleman told us if he won it is enough to buy himself a new coach. We pointed out that he could buy many coaches with $25,000. 

"Did you hear about the storefront that is available to let on Thames Street not far from the White Horse Tavern," Kitty explains. "It would be an ideal location for us to reopen the millinery shop that we once managed in Salem, before we were struck with harder times. The rent is reasonable and I think, if we are not too tempted by the broadcloth advertisements in the papers, we could save enough to open our shop in time for the summer visitors."

 Oh we're not gossiping...

 ...or secretly plotting to leave our duties in service with the Whitehornes!
 Back to work!
 The oldest daughter, Miss Caroline Whitehorne who is 14, has received a Valentine! We could not resist the temptation to unfold it and discover who it is from...

...but alas it t'was not sign'd. 
She has a secret admirer! 
(For more on this reproduction Valentine crafted by Kitty Calash, 

Miss Eliza Whitehorne, the family's second oldest daughter who is 13, enjoys reading immensely. Though she favors novels, she does not seem to mind more virtuous texts.

The regular wood delivery did not arrive yesterd'y as it usually would on a Fr'day. Tis not surprisin given the pattern of weekly snow storms we have experienced since December, for the wood comes from Swansea, MA. We ate cheese with stale bread for our nooning. Twas smart of Mrs. Whitehorne to spend the day callin' while Mr. Whitehorne discuss'd business mattars at the coffeehouse so we did not have to serve them a cold dish on freezing day inside a cold house.

 Yesterd'y when we were down to the last of the wood Kitty prepared gingerbread from one of Mrs. Whitehorne's receipts.

With all this snow I think it is time to obtain a great coat like my cousin has...

 ...or at least a spencer. Perhaps we will win that New York literature lottery and we can purchase a mill, for it is a growing industry here in Rhode Island, and I can have broadcloth woven exactly to my specifications. And I need never worry again about being cold or working in service.


  1. Oh this is just adorable! Thanks, and you both look fantastic in your dresses, aprons and little caps with just perfect hairstyles. Here in the Hudson valley we are suffering single digit temperatures and I would be hard pressed to go out in the snowy yard without a coat, no matter how adorable my new dress was!!
    Best regards,
    Auntie Nan

    1. Yes my husband thought I was crazy for asking him to take my picture in the snow, but it was quick. Stay warm!

  2. That is amazing. I feel a frisson, like hearing or seeing ghosts - nice ones!

  3. How beautiful! Such a perfect setting...snow outside and inside the house a warm open fireplace :)


  4. I love your excuse for not having a fire! I assume you could not have one because the chimney is old and not cared for? But finding a historical excuse (firewood is shipped in and the roads are snowy) is so great! I hope you don't mind me asking, where did you learn that firewood was shipped from Swansea? As always, I'm so incredibly impressed.

    1. Thank you! The house is very well cared for. We couldn't use the fireplace because of the site's rules. Kitty found the bit about the firewood. She says it came from a Brown family receipt.


Your feedback is appreciated. :)