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

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Preventative Conservation Workshop 2017 Part I: Outdoor Marble Sculpture

During June 2017, aspiring conservators from around the country attended a 2 week intensive preventative conservation workshop at Staatsburgh.  This was the second year that the workshop was held at Staatsburgh with sponsorship from The Foundation for the American Institute for Conservation along with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  The workshop taught in-depth methods of caring for many different types of collections. Participants gained insight into artifact conservation and the conditions that cause deterioration. After the workshop, several of the participants wrote blog entries about their experience and a specific aspect of the workshop.

NYS Bureau of Historic Sites Furniture Conservator, David Bayne, organized this workshop to occur at Staatsburgh collaborating on its organization with Independent Conservator Cathy MacKenzie.  Several conservators participated in the workshop's instruction including  Kirsten Schoonmaker from the Shelburne Museum, Valentine Talland formerly from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and Michelle Smith currently spending the summer at the National Library of France.

Part I in this series of blogs is by Ruthie Rolfsmeyer.  Ruthie is a conservation technician who has been contracted to work with concrete and wooden sculpture folk art environments in Maine, Georgia, and Wisconsin. She has also done conservation work on indoor murals in Idaho and Minnesota. Her degree is in Fine Art and Graphic Design with a minor in Art History, and she is continuing her education through courses in chemistry and Italian.

Workshop participant and blog author, Ruthie Rolfsmeyer


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Titled Affair: Lady Eileen Forbes Weds the Future Marquess of Bute


Castle Forbes, County Longford, Ireland

On April 26, 1932, crowds in Newforbestown, County Longford, Ireland clamored to catch a glimpse of the lovely bride, Lady Eileen Forbes. The event was very exciting for a town with less than 1000 residents that was named after the Forbes family. The Earl of Granard had resided in the region since 1691 and the family’s residence at Castleforbes was central to the town’s identity. Adding to the excitement was the equally elevated status of the groom, John Crichton-Stuart, the Earl of Dumfries who was the eldest son of a Marquess from one of the most prominent families in Scotland. The affair was a celebration for both the family and the village.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Relationship between the Mills Family and St. Margaret's Church

When approaching Staatsburgh from the south, it is nearly impossible to miss the beautiful stone church in the center of the village of Staatsburg*.  St. Margaret's Episcopal Church has been an important feature of the village since it was built in 1891 and the parish was an important part of the community even before the current church was built.  Although Ruth and Ogden Mills were not full time residents of the village and permanent fixtures at Sunday services, generations of the family have been involved with the congregation in many ways.

St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, Staatsburg, NY 


Thursday, June 1, 2017

François Flameng: Gilded Age Portraitist

Portrait of Ruth Livingston Mills by François Flameng, 1909

After we discovered that the grandiose portrait of Mrs. Mills currently hanging in her boudoir was painted by François Flameng (and not François Glamony...see previous blog), we wanted to learn everything that we could about this French artist and his place in the art world. What kind of artist was he and how did he end up in New York painting scores of wealthy society ladies?


François Flameng in his studio, c. 1880s-1890s (MET Collections 2005.100.1249)

Friday, April 28, 2017

The (Mills) Family Jewels: Boucheron of Paris and the Ultimate Gilded Age Status Symbol

Recently the site was contacted by an intern in the Heritage Department of the French jeweler, Boucheron, a renowned company that has been supplying the wealthy and fabulous with jewelry since 1893.  He wanted to learn a bit more about the Mills family because he had been scouring the sales archives and noticed that they were very regular clients of Boucheron for over 30 years from the 1890s to 1920s.  They purchased jewelry pieces monthly that were delivered to them in London, Paris, and New York.

Home of Boucheron, 26 Place Vendomme, Paris (Photo credit: Wikimedia User Delud)

Jewelry has always been utilized as a status symbol and this was certainly true during the Gilded Age when unprecedented wealth and the desire to stand out in society created a market for fine jewelry.  Women like Ruth Mills wore jeweled tiaras, brooches, bracelets and necklaces to society events and balls.  Rare gems and large diamonds worth millions of dollars highlighted the wealth and social status of the women they adorned.  We can compare it to the red carpet at the Oscars in the present day when "Hollywood royalty" parade past the press wearing fancy gowns and jewelry worth millions and millions of dollars.

Through this connection, we were able to receive photos of some of the actual pieces that Ogden Mills purchased from Boucheron.  Since Staatsburgh does not have personal affects from the family, this provided a wonderful opportunity to look at actual pieces of jewelry Ruth Mills and her daughters would have worn in society.