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

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Christmas 1899 at Staatsburgh

Every year we decorate the mansion for the Christmas season.  We don't merely put up a tree and throw some garland on the railings.  We really deck the halls...Gilded Age style!  There are no fewer than six decorated trees, bows on every sconce, decorations in every room, and an amazing display in the dining room.  We are talking splendor x 100!  The mansion closes for three weeks for all of this work to be done by staff and a highly-skilled cadre of volunteers!  However, the Mills did not leave behind a blueprint or photos of their Christmas decorations.  The only thing we have is a quote from a neighbor who remembers boughs of holly.  Since 100% historical accuracy is out of reach, we decorate in the spirit of the holiday and the spirit of the splendor of the Gilded Age.

Christmas at Staatsburgh, 2016

We also do not have definitive knowledge that the Mills family spent Christmas here.  We know the family spent most of the autumn at Staatsburgh and we assume they did spend at least a few Christmases here over the years.  Thankfully, earlier this year, we received an amazing gift.  The Staatsburgh guestbook used from 1899-1908 was discovered and donated to the site.  The guestbook was signed by visitors when they arrived at Staatsburgh.  It has entries and therefore proof that the family was here for Christmas in both 1899 and 1900.  There are many guests all fall, during the week of Thanksgiving and even two weeks before Christmas, but Christmas, as we will discover, was mainly a family affair at Staatsburgh. Let us first take a look at Christmas 1899...