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

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Summer at Knebworth House

During summer, is not unheard of for wealthy or even middle class families to rent a home for the season.  But could you imagine renting this house?  Well, in 1909, that is exactly what Ruth & Ogden Mills did.

Knebworth House, Hertfordshire, England

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

A 1901 Epidemic at Staatsburgh

In this time of COVID-19, it is instructive to note that the world has been plagued (if you will) with epidemics throughout history. The Gilded Age was no exception. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, as in past centuries, waves of yellow fever, smallpox, cholera, diphtheria, typhoid fever, polio and scarlet fever brought fear and death.


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Hidden Treasures of the Collection: Vichy Water

One of the reasons that we initially created this blog was to be able to focus on items in Staatsburgh's collections that are tucked away, harder to see, or not highlighted on the standard house tour. The house has so many items in it, that it is impossible to cover it all on a tour. The "Hidden Treasures of the Collection" essay series provides a closer look at some of the lesser-known, yet interesting objects throughout the house and estate. This essay examines the high-end (non-alcoholic) beverage of choice for European elites, also found in Staatsburgh's pantry.

A 1975 photograph of the butler's pantry showing the Vichy bottle cabinet.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Dining on the Titanic - Part III

Parts I and II of the Dining on the Titanic blog began by saying that we talk a lot about the Titanic at Staatsburgh. Staatsburgh’s owners, Ruth and Ogden Mills, planned to sail on the ship’s second voyage, one the doomed liner was never to make. The people who traveled first-class on the Titanic included people in the Millses’ social circle, as well as Mrs. Mills’ cousin, John Jacob Astor. The Millses’ connection to the Titanic led us to create “Tales of the Titanic,” a themed tour that we offer each spring. The Titanic has also been a theme for some of the talks at our Tea and Talk series. This 3-part Dining on the Titanic blog essay reproduces the 2016 Tea Talk of the same title.

As in Parts I and II, this essay will start with acknowledging the primary source for the Tea Talk, the delightful book, Last Dinner on the Titanic: Menus and Recipes from the Great Liner, by Rick Archbold and Dana McCauley. Featuring sound scholarship, good writing, and beautiful illustrations, the book is a great read.


Thursday, April 23, 2020

Dining on the Titanic - Part II

Dining on the Titanic Part I began by saying that we talk a lot about the Titanic at Staatsburgh. Staatsburgh’s owners, Ruth and Ogden Mills, planned to sail on the ship’s second voyage, one the doomed liner was never to make. The people who traveled first-class on the Titanic included people in the Millses’ social circle, as well as Mrs. Mills’ cousin, John Jacob Astor IV. The Millses’ connection to the Titanic led us to create “Tales of the Titanic,” a themed tour that we offer each spring. The Titanic has also been a theme for some of the talks at our Tea and Talk series. This 3-part Dining on the Titanic blog essay series reproduces one of the Tea Talks: “Dining on the Titanic.”

The primary source for the Tea Talk was the delightful book, Last Dinner on the Titanic: Menus and Recipes from the Great Liner, by Rick Archbold and Dana McCauley. Featuring sound scholarship, good writing, and beautiful illustrations, the book is a great read. 


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Dining on the Titanic - Part I

We talk a lot about the Titanic at Staatsburgh. Staatsburgh’s owners, Ruth and Ogden Mills, planned to sail on the ship’s second voyage, one the doomed liner was never to make. The Millses connection to the Titanic led us to create “Tales of the Titanic,” a themed tour that we offer each spring. The Titanic has also been a theme for some of the talks at our Tea and Talk series. In this blog and ones to follow, we’ll reproduce one of the Tea Talks: “Dining on the Titanic.”

The primary source for the talk was the delightful book, Last Dinner on the Titanic: Menus and Recipes from the Great Liner, by Rick Archbold and Dana McCauley. Featuring sound scholarship, good writing, and beautiful illustrations, the book is a great read.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Music of the Gilded Age at Staatsburgh


Staatsburgh has been working with Dr. Christopher Brellochs, Chair of the Academy of Music at Dutchess Community College, on programs about Gilded Age music.  Dr. Brellochs has been researching Gilded Age music and performing at various Gilded Age sites throughout the Hudson Valley region.  He has explored the connections between the Mills family and music, and especially their relationship with the Metropolitan Opera.  Although his upcoming tea talk and music programs are postponed, please enjoy this preview of his research into the music that Ruth & Ogden would have enjoyed at the opera.

Dr. Christopher Brellochs

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Consummate Gentleman: Winthrop Rutherfurd and Some of His Leading Ladies

The press was enamored of many dashing gentlemen during the Gilded Age, but no one quite so much as Winthrop Rutherfurd.  "Winty" was tall, handsome, and of good stock.  His father, Lewis Morris Rutherfurd, was a pioneering astronomer, but Winthrop also descended directly from Peter Stuyvesant who was the head of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, and from John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts.  Edith Wharton once referred to him as the "prototype of my first novels." Perhaps she thought of him as she wrote male characters who she wanted to portray the discreet proper gentleman or ideal suitor.  Rutherfurd visited Staatsburgh multiple times and his family became connected to the Mills family when his niece married Ogden Livingston Mills in 1911.

Winthrop Rutherfurd, circa 1895

His three best-known loves span different eras of his life, but there were also probably countless others that never became public record.  How many women succumbed to the charms of Winthrop Rutherfurd?  We may never know....

Friday, February 28, 2020

Hidden Treasures of the Collection: Asian Statues

One of the reasons that we initially created this blog was to have an avenue to highlight 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 it all on a tour.  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. This essay will examine a Chinese and a Japanese figure, which were just two of the many Asian pieces that adorned Staatsburgh.

Chinese Ming-Style figure, c. early 19th century.
Japanese Buddah statue, c.19th century.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

A Gilded Age Ice Skating Tea

It is currently tea season at Staatsburgh and we are serving scones, sandwiches, and our special Harney & Sons Staatsburgh blend tea almost every weekend.  We enjoy welcoming guests to the historic dining room for this unique experience.  During the Gilded Age, having tea was a very common social experience.  One of the more unique tea entertainments was the 'ice tea,' which was tea in conjunction with ice skating!  Ice skating became very popular during the Gilded Age when indoor ice rinks first opened, which lengthened the skating season.  Before 'artificial ice,' skating only happened on frozen outdoor ponds, and the weather played a big role in the number of skating days every season.  An event like an 'ice tea' was only possible once skating moved indoors!