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

Friday, March 29, 2019

Hidden Treasures of the Collections: Marriage Certificate of Francis Lewis & Elizabeth Annesely

One of the initial hopes for this blog was to create an avenue that showcased some of Staatsburgh's collections that are not always noticeable or highlighted on the tour. The house has so many collections that it is impossible to cover everything in a single visit.  In addition, some objects or paintings are positioned in such a way that is is hard to see them from the tour path. The "Hidden Treasures of the Collection" blog series provides a closer look at some of the interesting pieces throughout the house.

The newest entry in this series takes a look at a document that hangs on the wall in the library.  This document dates from 1745 and is the marriage certificate of Ruth Livingston Mills' great-great-grandparents, Francis Lewis and Elizabeth Annesely.  Several documents signed and written by Ruth Livingston Mills' ancestors grace the wall of the library as a way to emphasize Ruth's Livingston heritage and the history of her family at this site.  Francis Lewis signed the Declaration of Independence, which was a clear point of pride for Ruth.  It created a clear link from Ruth to the foundation of the country.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Book Review: Tragic Mansions by Mrs. Philip Lydig

Life and relationships in wealthy Gilded Age society is a fascinating topic, but there are only a few first hand accounts from the women who ruled the upper echelons of society during this era.  Maverick in Mauve: The Diary of a Romantic Age by Florence Adele Sloane (a great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt) is a published account of diary entries in the years before and during the author's marriage.  Another great example written by Sloane's cousin, Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, was entitled The Glitter and the Gold.  Both provide unique insights into love and marriage within a society with very strict rules.  A third example provides an equally fascinating and perhaps darker look into the lives of those who appeared to have it all.  Published in 1927 by Rita de Acosta Lydig, the book came at a time when Rita was in ill health and a lot of debt.  She wrote the book to earn money and in the meantime provided a unique window into her world.

Portrait of Rita de Acosta Lydig by Giovanni Boldini, 1911

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Ruth Livingston Mills: Graceful & Proficient on Ice

While researching Ruth Livingston Mills, one of the last things I expected to find, was a news article that extolled her skills as an ice skater! I have always had an impression of Ruth as very proper, a bit fragile health-wise, and rather cautious as well. Whenever she went outside in the summer she would be covered head to toe and wore a veil over her face to protect herself from the sun. So when I read that she was known as an excellent skater, I was a bit surprised. First of all, I could not picture her falling on ice in front of other people. And even if falls were rare and she was not doing anything risky, it is inevitable that a fall will happen once in a while. You might click your blades with another skater, or hit a rut…outdoor ice is nothing like the smooth ice in rinks today. And second, it takes a while to feel comfortable and confident on skates so that means she must have been doing it her whole life and she must have put in some time on the ice. Her involvement with skating also showcases how fashionable skating had become. It was an enjoyable winter hobby for the masses and the elite!

Skating in Central Park