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Explore the American Home! Each of these 31 period rooms looks like you’re stepping into a room from the past. You can peek into an 1810s bedroom, 1820s dining room, 1860s parlor, and many more. Compare how homes have changed over the years; which features do we still use today, and which have fallen by the wayside? 

This room sponsored by Alabama State Society, DAR

Alabama

1840s Parlor in Alabama

New Technology

The family in this room is showing off their enthusiasm for modern technology.

First, look at the lamp on the table. It is a solar lamp, so called because it burns brighter than a candle—like the sun! The hollow wick draws more oxygen with the oil, an improvement over earlier lamps or candles. Imagine how different our lives would be without good artificial light!
 
Next, look at the floor The carpet was woven on a Jacquard loom, which uses punch cards to control the design. Many people consider this loom to be a type of early computer programming. These earlier inventions made today’s technology possible.
This room sponsored by California State Society, DAR

California

1850s Parlor in California

Multicultural

How many cultures can you find in this room?
 
You might see the furniture from Europe or the American East Coast. It was difficult to get these to California, though. Ships had to go around South America, which took over two months! It was easier to buy items sent from China, and the Chinese items you see were made to export to the West.
 
You wouldn’t be surprised to see the Spanish guitar, since this area belonged to Mexico until 1848. The instrument was a popular one played by Europeans and Americans, especially women. This room shows you how diverse California was in the 1850s.

 

This room sponsored by Connecticut State Society, DAR

Connecticut

The Connecticut Board Room

The Connecticut Board Room was set aside to serve as a conference room for the NSDAR Board of Management. It is designed in a classical revival or Beaux-Arts style, inspired by Greek and Roman architecture. The furniture is in the very ornate rococo revival style and includes a replica of the famous “Rising Sun” chair from Independence Hall used by George Washington as he presided at the Constitutional Convention. The use of electricity to light the chandeliers was the latest technology during the early 20th century when this room was built. The exclusive use of electricity to light Memorial Continental Hall in 1910 signaled a turning away from gas lighting popular during the previous century. Each chandelier features a gilt or golden brass frame hung with polished glass spheres and jewels.

This room sponsored by District of Columbia State Society, DAR

District of Columbia

1810s Parlor in the District of Columbia

An Island of Good Taste

You would walk out of this room into a muddy, smelly mess.
 
Livestock roamed the unpaved streets, much of the land was swampy, and difficulty with drainage kept sewage from washing away. Much of the population was transient and lived in boarding houses, so not many people had a parlor like this. Still, a few people tried to keep up appearances. This family decorated their house with furnishings that are nice but not extravagant. Here they can sit and pretend they don’t hear the pigs outside in the street.

 

This room sponsored by Delaware State Society, DAR

Delaware

1780s Study in Delaware

A Quiet Place

Have you ever wanted to get away from it all?
 
Then what you needed in the 1700s was a study. If you could afford it, you built your house with a room toward the back, away from the noise and distraction of everyday life. There you could read, write letters, or entertain yourself with hobbies such as learning about the world through a microscope. With enough money and leisure time you could have a place all to yourself.
 

 

This room sponsored by Georgia State Society, DAR

Georgia

1770s Tavern in Georgia

Women In Business

American independence owes a lot to taverns like Lucy’s!

Lucy Tondee’s tavern was the perfect place to read the Declaration of Independence aloud publicly for the first time in Georgia. She took over the business when her husband, Peter, died in 1775. It served as a meeting place for the Sons of Liberty before the American colonies won their independence, and afterwards for the new state legislature.
 
Taverns like Lucy’s were an important feature in the community, providing a combined gathering space, message board, restaurant, and hotel.
This room sponsored by Illinois State Organization, DAR

Illinois

1840s Bedroom in Illinois

A Lively Room

You might be surprised by all that is happening in this bedroom.
 
Children giggle and run across the bright carpet. The woman of the house directs the servants to include one more person for dinner while catching up on news with her visiting friend. They discuss how much cheaper fabric is these days; now that mass production has brought the price down, even this middle-class household can afford the bright colors and bold patterns that are in vogue.
 
While you might be surprised that all this is taking place in a bedroom, the “best bed chamber” is a woman’s center of operations for much of the year.

 

This room sponsored by Indiana State Society, DAR

Indiana

1930s Parlor in Indiana

The Birth of Collecting

Collecting American antiques was still a new idea in the 1900s.

Before then, nobody kept American furnishings just because they were old. When a few wealthy people started purchasing and displaying furniture and other items from America’s early history, they started a trend. But the new use for this furniture was not the same as when it was originally made! People took old objects and used them the way a modern person would, like putting the easy chair here in a parlor instead of a bedroom where you would originally find it. This is called the Colonial Revival.
This room sponsored by Iowa State Society, DAR

Iowa

1790s Parlor in the United States

The Seasons are in Charge

In our modern climate controlled houses we barely notice the change of seasons.

In the 1700s, the seasons control your life. Winter makes you move your furniture closer to the fire, while summer drives you to open the windows to catch a breeze. They change your decorations: with a fire no longer necessary during the warmer months, you have to do something else with the empty fireplace. Some people put up a decorative panel or arrange the fireplace tools artistically. Or you could add a vase of fresh flowers—just another reminder that the seasons are in charge.
This room sponsored by Kentucky State Society, DAR

Kentucky

1830s Parlor in the United States

The New Classical Look

What makes fashion change? In the early 1700s, it was a discovery halfway around the world: the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Excavating these cities showed the way ancient Romans decorated their houses, which was different from the large, well-known temples. This caused architects and designers to revise their thinking about neoclassical (new classical) styling, drawing from the ancient Romans and Greeks in a new way. Instead of heavy and monumental, neoclassical design is more delicate and dainty. By the early 1800s, home furnishings such as these reflected this new style.

This room sponsored by Louisiana State Society, DAR

Louisiana

The Louisiana Gallery

The Louisiana room, also called the Louisiana Gallery, is arranged as an exhibition displaying art and objects that reflect the rich cultural history of the state. The Gallery provides glimpses into domestic life interpreted through the lives of Louisiana women who served as wives, mothers, cooks, household managers, and educational and religious instructors. It focuses on domestic life and household furnishings, female education, and courageous women who shaped the history of the state. The Louisiana Gallery is the only room to display artifacts relating to the lives of Native-American culture. Almost all the gallery objects are either native to Louisiana or relate to its history.

This room sponsored by Maine State Society, DAR

Maine

1820s Parlor in Maine

Wealth from the Sea

You can’t see it, but you know the ocean is there.
 
Many clues in this room tell you that this family lives near the sea. Coastal families in New England catch fish, hunt whales, or ship goods across the Atlantic Ocean. In this room you can see the lamp that burns whale oil, the tea set from China, and the tools that help sailors find their way across the ocean using the stars. While the husband is away at sea for months at a time, the wife manages the household. Even if you never set foot on a ship, the ocean supports and controls your life.

 

This room sponsored by Maryland State Society, dar

Maryland

1830s Parlor in Maryland

Honored Guests

You have just been invited to visit a family and arrive at their parlor.
 
This might be the only room of their house that you see, since formal parlors are reserved for guests. Here the family puts their fanciest and most expensive furnishings, out of respect for their guests and also to show off. As a guest you should honor your hosts by wearing nice clothes: ladies, this means a dress with huge sleeves, and gentlemen, you need a very tall hat. During your visit you will chat with your hosts and perhaps listen to music or enjoy a cup of tea.

 

This room sponsored by Massachusetts State Society, dar

Massachusetts

1775 Bedroom and Parlor in Massachusetts

A Famous Ride

Tensions run high on the eve of the American Revolution. Neighbor turns against neighbor over the subject of liberty from England.

Two leaders of the Revolution, John Hancock and Samuel Adams, are visiting Hancock’s cousin in the room you see here. They enjoy a late supper, talking in low voices about how to achieve freedom from British rule. Outside they hear a horse arrive. In bursts Paul Revere, come to warn them that British troops are approaching and their lives are in danger! This moment was captured in later poems, paintings, and songs. The house still stands, a marker of an important event in American history.
This room sponsored by Michigan State Society, DAR

Michigan

1920s Library in Michigan

Home Office

Welcome to the home office of the 1920s!
 
You will only find a library like this in a few wealthy homes. Here the lady of the house can sit to write invitations and letters, balance household accounts, manage servants, and plan the day’s schedule. Perhaps she is writing invitations for a party and has to plan the menu without purchasing alcohol, since it is against the law in this decade. Or maybe she is organizing a fun trip outside the house to see a film like The Jazz Singer, or a more serious trip to vote, a right she has only had since 1920.

 

This room sponsored by Missouri State Society, DAR

Missouri

1860s Parlor in Missouri

Support The Troops

Outside is war; inside is unity.

In a nation torn apart by a civil war, women come together to raise money to support their troops. They craft items for sale using materials that are now widely available and inexpensive because of the Industrial Revolution. Their customers are the growing middle class who have enough disposable income to afford both the cheaper mass-produced items and the homemade fundraising gifts. These fundraising fairs raise tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
 
Armed with knitting needles and sewing thread, women contribute to the war effort in every way they can.
This room sponsored by New Hampshire State Organization, DAR

New Hampshire

1800s and Early 1900s Display of Children's Toys

Childhood: A New Discovery
 
Childhood is a recent invention.
 
We have always had children, but in earlier times children were treated as small versions of adults. That started changing in the 1700s, and by the 1800s the prevailing attitude had shifted to recognizing childhood as a special part of life with different needs. Authors wrote books just for children and parents put aside a part of the house for them to play in—although it was usually in a distant part of the house like the attic. After all, “children are to be seen and not heard!”

 

This room sponsored by New Hampshire State Organization, DAR

New Hampshire

1930s "Colonial" Pine Woodwork

Pretend Colonial

When you think of America’s “colonial times” you may really be thinking of Wallace Nutting’s version.
 
His fantasy version of the “olden days” influenced the way many people thought of America’s early years. Nutting took and sold photographs in the early 1900s. For them he bought antiques that he arranged to appeal to the 1900s idea of the colonial days, even though they did not look like real rooms from the 1700s. Then he started making “colonial” furniture for sale, and even designed all the woodwork in this room in the 1930s. Many people do not realize it, but his version of the past is often mistaken for the real thing.

 

This room sponsored by New Jersey State Society, DAR

New Jersey

1910s Relic Room

Sunken Ship

All the wood in this room came from the British warship Augusta.
 
You are looking at a ship that ran aground and partially sank during the American Revolution. The ship sank in the Delaware River in 1777 during the Battle of Red Bank. In 1910, two New Jersey DAR members acquired the ship’s remains and had the idea to use its wood to create this room full of relics from the ship. But first, it took a year for the wood to dry out! The DAR used this room for committee meetings until the 1930s.

 

This room sponsored by New York State Organization, DAR

New York

1820s Parlor in the United States

Let The Games Begin

You are attending a ball at an upscale house.
 
You already joined in the dancing in the next room and now you are taking a break for some games and music. Perhaps you care for backgammon or a popular card game like whist or euchre. But be careful! Many people gamble on these games and you could lose a lot of money. Players use fish-shaped tokens to wager with and sometimes the tokens represent real money, like modern poker chips. Do you think your luck will hold?

 

This room sponsored by North Carolina State Society, DAR

North Carolina

1820s Dining Room in the United States

Fine Dining

You had better be on your best behavior in this room!
 
Here you will be dining with the upper class, where you must know which fork to use and what to do with your napkin. Your clues about how wealthy this family is include the fine furnishings and the abundance of sweets served for dessert. This is the final course (you can tell because the table cloth has been removed) and as you select a dessert you reflect on how expensive sugar is at this time. This family clearly has money to spare.

 

This room sponsored by Ohio State Society, DAR

Ohio

1920s Parlor in Ohio

Two Celebrations

Women celebrate two important amendments.
 
Let’s join the women in this room to celebrate the two amendments to the constitution in 1920: the prohibition of selling or making alcohol and the right of women to vote. Those of the older generation may still wear corsets but they are rubbing elbows with the younger set in “flapper” dresses and lipstick. While they could still legally drink any alcohol they own, these ladies might drink other beverages like tea or coffee to show their support for a more sober society. Then they will go out to cast their first vote!

 

This room sponsored by Oklahoma State Society, DAR

Oklahoma

1700s, 1800s & 1900s Display of Kitchen Tools

Faux Colonial

A real person from the 1700s would be shocked by this kitchen.
 
There is too much stuff! It is so cluttered; you can’t even get to the fireplace! And why isn’t the wood paneling painted? What you are looking at is a romanticized version of a colonial kitchen dreamed up in the 1800s and 1900s. People imagined what the colonial period was like and exhibited kitchens like this at local fairs and fundraisers. The objects in this room are real, but the way they are displayed is a fantasy from a later time.

 

This room sponsored by Pennsylvania State Society, DAR

Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Foyer

Called the “Pennsylvania Foyer,” this grand space was the original entrance to NSDAR headquarters. The walls reflect the classical style of the building and are made of Vermont marble. The floor has a bronze medallion of the Pennsylvania state seal. The ornamental ceiling is made of plaster with sweeping swags, floral bouquets and acanthus leaves. The busts, set in the circular niches represent American revolutionary heroes. The Pennsylvania Alcove, just off the Foyer, contains a sampling of decorative arts made in Pennsylvania from the late 1700s and early 1800s.

This room sponsored by Rhode Island State Society, DAR

Rhode Island

1800s Display of Musical Instruments

Play A Tune

Which instruments were usually played by women, and which by men?
 
Listening to live music was something nearly everyone enjoyed. It provided entertainment, since there was no way to record music at the time. Playing an instrument also showed off your education and social status since not everyone could afford an instrument, lessons, or the time to learn.
 
Women played piano, guitar, and harp. Men played strings like the violin and cello, and woodwinds like the flute and recorder. People thought that women should look graceful while playing and that woodwinds and strings put your arms in awkward positions not suitable for a lady.

 

This room sponsored by South Carolina State Society, DAR

South Carolina

1810s Bedroom in South Carolina

Keeping Clean

Would it surprise you to know that people in the 1800s liked being clean, just like we do?
 
People wrote books and articles on hygiene, and used many tools to keep clean. This bedroom shows what men and women did to get ready for the day. The shaving razor, bowl, and other equipment kept men free from unfashionable beards. The dressing table holds the combs, powders, and perfumes that women needed to prepare themselves for the day. Keeping clean was important to people in the 1800s—it was just more difficult to do when you had to carry all your water in buckets!

 

This room sponsored by Tennessee State Society, DAR

Tennessee

Display of White House Chairs

America's First House

The chairs in this room used to sit in the White House.
 
It’s not the first house built in America, but it houses the First Family. The President and family live in the White House across the street. After the White House burned down during the War of 1812, President James Monroe ordered a set of gold-covered chairs from France. Congress was horrified! Why aren’t we buying American-made furniture for America’s most important house? So they passed a law that American goods should be purchased whenever possible. A local cabinetmaker made the mahogany chairs to replace the fancy gold ones. The President’s House still showcases many items made by talented American craftsmen.

 

This room sponsored by Texas State Society, DAR

Texas

1860s Bedroom in Texas

New Settlers

Wilkommen! Meet the Mewes family.

Caroline, William, and their children immigrated to central Texas from Germany in the 1850s. Here they had to learn a new language and new customs. If you traveled to a new place, what would you bring with you to remind you of home? The painted stenciled decoration on the walls was popular in central Texas where large numbers of German immigrants settled. Perhaps it made the Mewes family feel more at home as they learned English and read American magazines, which had sewing patterns for Mrs. Mewes to follow.
This room sponsored by Vermont State Society, DAR

Vermont

1840s Parlor in Vermont

Quilting Party

Peeking into this parlor, you know that the woman who lives here has plenty of two things: money and time.
 
Quilts of the 1800s use fancy, expensive fabric and the time it takes to piece together all those tiny shapes means she probably has servants to do the tedious housework. She has friends with enough leisure time, too, and pulls up extra chairs so they can help her with the quilt. Quilting parties, or quiltings (the term “quilting bee” is coined later) are a chance for ladies to gather and exchange news while helping each other.

 

This room sponsored by Virginia State Society, DAR

Virginia

1810s Dining Room in Virginia

A Summer Meal

Don’t be late for dinner!

If you pull up a chair at this family dinner, you’d expect to sit down sometime between 2:00 and 4:00pm for the biggest meal of the day. You are joining this wealthy family for a casual summertime meal. You can tell the season because of the kind of food on the table. Before refrigerators and airplanes to store and carry food, most of what you eat has to be fresh and local. Here you can enjoy a small beef roast stuffed with onions, pan-fried perch, asparagus, stewed sweet potatoes, and a fruit pie.
This room sponsored by West Virginia State Society, DAR

West Virginia

1820s Parlor in the United States

Home Schooling

In the early 1800s no child had to go to school.
 
Would you go to school if you didn’t have to? In the early 1800s young children learned at home from their parents. Then they could go to a local school if they had the money to pay for it, or become an apprentice to learn a trade. Wealthy parents hired tutors to come to their house and teach. The parents in this house set their parlor up as a school room. Here their children can learn reading, writing, geography, and arithmetic. The law doesn’t make children learn at this time— but parents do!

 

This room sponsored by Wisconsin State Society, DAR

Wisconsin

1690s Hall in New England

Work Is Never Done

Welcome to the home office of the 1690s!

Most houses have only one main room, which is the primary sleeping and dining area. Here is where all the household’s indoor work takes place: cooking, cleaning, laundry, mending clothes, teaching children—the list goes on. This family has two spinning wheels so they can make both linen thread and wool yarn. They use the large fireplace to cook, heat water for washing, and make soap, candles, and other necessities. Working from home is not a modern concept; hundreds of years ago, it’s what most people did.