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

Friday, August 31, 2018

Ladies' Fashions at the Turn of the 20th Century

When Stanford White was brought in to remodel Ruth Livingston Mills’s inherited home, he took special care to install an enormous staircase, knocking out a ceiling and a couple of walls to do the job. Looking at the staircase today, you can almost see the beautiful ladies visiting Staatsburgh sweeping down those steps to make their grand entrance for dinner, no doubt bedecked in one of the most fashionable gowns they owned.


The "pigeon chest"

Fashion in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was quite elaborate and just as fickle as it is today. Over the course of around twenty years (from the very late 1890’s up to around 1915) women’s fashion would undergo a veritable coup.


Sunday, July 29, 2018

Hidden Treasures of the Collections: Armoire

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. 

One of the most remarkable pieces of furniture is the 19th century oak armoire in Mrs. Mills' bedroom, which is situated just between her closets.  Even though there are two closets in Mrs. Mills' room, closets were uncommon and most homes like Staatsburgh contained armoires in every bedroom to store clothing.  Read on to learn more about the armoire and the intensive efforts that went into conserving it.

Oak Armoire from Normandy, early 19th century (ML.1974.382)


Saturday, June 30, 2018

Francis Lewis: A Revolutionary Life

Happy Independence Day!

You may not realize what a close connection Staatsburgh and the Mills family have to the events we commemorate by recognizing Independence Day as a national holiday.  Ruth and Ogden were born about eighty years after the momentous event, but there is a family connection!  Mrs. Mills' great-great grandfather was a member of the Continental Congress and was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  We know that Ruth took considerable pride in her ancestors because several historic documents relating to Francis Lewis and other illustrious fore-bearers were displayed in the house.

Francis Lewis (1713-1802)

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The House of Worth:
Designer Fashion in the Gilded Age

Today there are countless dress designers who have successfully made a career of dressing the rich and famous.  Names like Armani, Dior, Chanel, Gucci, and Valentino are commonly muttered by artists and entertainers walking the red carpet.  However, if one were to ask the most elite women in Gilded Age society about their gowns, the vast majority of answers would be the same...the House of Worth.

Friday, April 27, 2018

New Discoveries: The Edgar Mills Letters

With history research, there are always new things to discover and the internet has made many of those discoveries easier than ever.  Recently, when I was looking for something completely unrelated, I stumbled upon a description for the Edgar Mills papers at the California State Library.  Part of the collection included correspondence with his brother, D.O. Mills, and his nephew, Ogden Mills.  The description also mentioned that the correspondence included a discussion of Ogden's engagement to Ruth Livingston.  Since we know very little about their courtship and marriage, I was very excited by the prospect of reading these letters.  Keep reading to see what I found!

Headline in Sacramento's The Record-Union, February 4, 1882