Sunday, July 9, 2017

Best Parlor

Receipts and visitor descriptions for the Best Parlor
suggest that wallpaper and carpeting for the space
incorporated blue designs. Recent grants from 
Governor Cuomo and Parks & Trails New York will
allow us to reproduce the 18th century carpet shown
 here for future display in this room.
The Southeast chamber served as a room for formal entertainment and important family functions. In its day, it was a showpiece of refined furnishing. While today the walls and floor are bare, this room would have displayed bright silk wall-coverings and an ornamental carpet, as well as a papier-mâché ceiling [read more about papier-mâché and the future restoration] and rich upholstery. The shield-back chairs and sofa are original to the family [read about the fabric on these family pieces, and see them deconstructed]. The furniture positioned against the wall would have been rearranged by enslaved servants to accommodate whatever function the parlor was serving at the time, whether it be military meetings, musical entertainment, or festive dinners.

This parlor served as the venue for important family events, including musical performances by the Schuyler children, baptisms, the funeral of oldest son John Bradstreet Schuyler, and the famous wedding between
Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler (both depicted on the South wall) on December 14th, 1780. This wedding was a small affair by modern standards, but typical of the time. The Schuylers family members present at the home that winter, and Captain James McHenry, who accompanied Hamilton on his military leave, were likely the only guests. The winter setting of the wedding necessitated the use of the parlor, as the larger hallways had no fireplace openings and could not be heated.

Caroline McIntosh (née Carmichael) was living as a widow
in the Schuyler Mansion in the 1850s. Her meeting with
Millard Fillmore is speculated to have been arranged by
Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, who grew up and married
in the home more than 70 years prior.
In 1858, former-president Millard Fillmore also married - to then owner Caroline McIntosh - in this room. There are usually pamphlets, "A Century of Change" available at the rear door of the mansion which can tell you more about the 19th century history of the home, or ask a staff member.

Portraits of eldest daughter Angelica (left, with her son and a servant) and youngest daughter Caty (right, sitting in front of a piano forté) flank the doorway. Angelica became an infamous part of this family's history when she became the first of the Schuyler children to elope, marrying the dashing, young Englishman, John "Carter" in 1777. "Carter" turned out to be an alias for John Barker Church, and his hidden identity was likely the reason the couple did not seek parental permission, instead marrying in Greenbush and staying with Angelica's maternal grandparents at Crailo. At least 3 more of the Schuyler children- Philip Jeremiah, Cornelia, and Caty - followed in Angelica's footsteps by eloping.

John Barker Church was a rakish figure who came
to the Colonies under the assumed name "Carter"
in 1774. He was sent to the mansion to audit Philip
Schuyler's accounts on behalf of Congress in 1777.
As You Exit :

You will pass through the Central Hall

Straight ahead, you will find the Yellow Parlor

Left will bring you to the Back Hall

Other Rooms:


Dining Room

Salon (Upstairs Hall)

Blue Chamber (Upstairs)

Yellow Chamber (Upstairs)

Green Chamber (Upstairs)

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