Welcome to Staatsburgh State Historic Site's blog! Learn more about the Gilded Age home of Ruth and Ogden Mills!

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Gathering of Old Cars 2014 Recap

If you are a lover of antique cars and live in the Hudson Valley, it is a good bet that you were at Staatsburgh last Sunday.  The Great Lawn between the mansion and the Hudson River was filled with hundreds of cars and there were thousands of visitors who attended the event.  Inside the mansion we were happy to welcome many new visitors from the car show who stopped by the gift shop and toured the house.

I was able to walk through the lawn and see so many of the great cars on display.  The car show brings back great memories from my childhood because my father restored a 1939 Chevy Coupe and we took it to countless car shows over the years.  I have seen firsthand how owners of antique cars have poured their blood, sweat, and tears (and money) into restoring and maintaining these cars.  After all of that effort, they are especially proud to show them off and converse with other car owners.  It takes a lot of effort to make an 80+ year old car look good and even more to make sure it runs properly!  As I wandered through the rows of car, I took a moment to talk to a few folks who brought a car to the show...

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Historic Mattresses at a Glance

Here at the Staatsburgh, we’ve recently developed an interest in the historic mattresses in our collection. Our investigation into the topic has led to surprising discoveries about the ways mattresses have changed over the course of the last century. The modern mattresses we all sleep on today are composed of a foundation (also known as a box spring), which underlies an innerspring unit, which is then surrounded surrounded by many layers of upholstery all contained within a padded, quilted exterior. 

However, mattresses were not always so sophisticated or comfortable. The innerspring mattress that most of us sleep on today was patented by a man named Heinrich Westphal in 1871. Unfortunately, Westphal did not live long enough to see his invention succeed. This type of mattress was very expensive and did not become widely available until the middle of the twentieth century.

This begs the question: what were mattresses like before? Mattress construction has changed greatly over the course of time from stuffing, to woven wire, and finally to the innerspring model. Mattresses may seem quite mundane. To be sure, they don’t flaunt the same glamor as other antique furniture. You would never catch someone boasting about owning a nineteenth century mattress! However, the mattress has seen a great deal of change in its construction during the last century. These changes show us incremental advancements in the technology of the era as well as changing attitudes about health.