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

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Hallowe'en in the Time of War and Pandemic: 1917-1919 - Part II

This essay is the second in a four part series about Hallowe'en during the time of World War I and the Spanish flu pandemic. The series was written by Carol Kohan who is one of Staatsburgh's wonderful volunteers. In addition, Carol enjoyed a 38 year career with the National Park Service, holding interpretation, curatorial, and management positions including Curator of Martin Van Buren National Historic Site in Kinderhook, Midwest Regional Curator in Omaha, Superintendent of Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in Iowa, and Deputy Superintendent of Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Site in Hyde Park. After her retirement from the National Park Service in 2013, Carol served two terms as Historian for the Town of Hyde Park.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Hallowe’en in the Time of War and Pandemic: 1917-1919 - Part I

This essay begins a four part series about Hallowe'en during the time of World War I and the Spanish flu pandemic.  The series is written by Carol Kohan who is one of Staatsburgh's wonderful volunteers.  Carol has presented enchanting Gilded Age Hallowe’en Tea & Talk programs at Staatsburgh since 2016.  In addition, Carol enjoyed a 38-year career with the National Park Service, holding interpretation, curatorial, and management positions including Curator of Martin Van Buren National Historic Site in Kinderhook, Midwest Regional Curator in Omaha, Superintendent of Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in Iowa, and Deputy Superintendent of Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Site in Hyde Park.  After her retirement from the National Park Service in 2013, Carol served two terms as Historian for the Town of Hyde Park.

We hope you will enjoy this four-part blog post which continues the story of this spellbinding holiday. 


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Remembering Ruth Livingston Mills a Century After her Death

Today, October 13, 2020, marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Ruth Livingston Mills, the long-time matriarch of Staatsburgh, born in 1855.  Ruth’s legacy can be found in her descendants, the preservation of her Staatsburgh mansion, and the surrounding park that bears her name.  Upon announcing her death, The New York Times reported, “Since the death of Mrs. William Astor no leader of New York society has more nearly approached the position of social arbiter than Mrs. Mills. Her characteristics as a hostess never altered; she did not believe in easily letting down the bars to newcomers or to new methods and manners of entertaining, one critic of her small invitation list during a certain Newport season asserting that she was determined to reduce the ‘400’ to ‘150.’”  

A September 12th article in a Pittsburgh newspaper reported that Mrs. Ogden Mills was due to spend the late autumn at Staatsburgh though she was currently in Paris with her daughter, the Countess of Granard. Mr. Mills was on his way to join her.  Alas, Mrs. Mills was never again going to welcome guests to her beloved Staatsburgh.


Friday, September 25, 2020

How Samantha Parkington Taught Me About the Past

Do the names Kirsten, Samantha and Molly ring a bell?  If they do, it is likely that you are a child of the 1980s and early 1990s...like me.  Beginning in 1986, Pleasant Company introduced these three young women who made up the American Girls Collection. Kirsten Larsen (1854) was a Swedish immigrant living on the frontier, Samantha Parkington (1904) was an orphan being raised by her grandmother, and Molly McIntire was living through World War II.  Each girl was represented by a doll, but the collection was much more than just a doll.  The story of each girl was told in a series of books which included a book about school, Christmas, her birthday, summer, and change.  Each doll had different outfits and accessories which all related to the content and illustrations in the books.  This clever marketing helped transform Pleasant Company into a multi-million dollar company re-branded American Girl after it was purchased by Mattel for $700 million in 1998.    

The original American Girls Collection released in 1986

Friday, August 28, 2020

Traces of Edith Wharton's House of Mirth at Staatsburgh

This blog is authored by David Bayne who served as the furniture conservator for the New York State Bureau of Historic Sites from 1992 until his retirement in early 2020.  David spent eleven years as a musical instrument and furniture maker before taking the Smithsonian Institution's Furniture Conservation Training Program and becoming a conservator.  David conserved many pieces of furniture at Staatsburgh including the French armoire discussed in this blog from 2018.

Essay author David Bayne