Monday, January 26, 2015

In Which I Visit the Browns in 1800

In Which I Visit the Browns in 1800

Imagine it's October, a beautiful Indian summer Saturday in Providence 1800. The Brown family is at home. John Brown, thee family patriarch is a wealthy businessman, merchant and politician. He is currently in Philadelphia in Congress and his son is not home, but the ladies are at home. Besides Mr. Brown, here lives Mrs. Brown, Quaker raised and progressive in her ideas on educating her daughters. Mrs. Brown's unmarried sister stays here too along with the three Brown daughters. Abby, the eldest, is widowed and I'll have to share the nursery with her son. Alice, the youngest, is newly married to Mr. Mason. Their baby Abby was born one day after their wedding! The Masons are waiting for their new house to be built. Sally, the middle Brown daughter is hoping her father will finally give his blessing to marry her suitor Mr. Charles Hereshoff. He is from Prussia originally and is in need of occupation. Tradesmen are coming in and out and I heard there is a mantua maker showing off the latest fashions from Paris and a fortune teller with the grown-up ladies telling fortunes. 

I sneak out of the nursery and evade Nurse and my governess to show you around the house and grounds. Friend Caroline, take notice. 

If you want to read a more detailed grown-up account of our visit, go look at my guardian's super boring blog post

First, I slip out of the schoolroom and head downstairs. I peek inside one of the bedrooms - no one here...

I hear the Masons across the hall and the mantua maker showing off fancy Parisian fashions. I'll just sneak behind her and slip downstairs... I hop down the mahogany staircase with beautiful carved railings.

Staircase details.

These posts were turned on a lathe. This is the very latest fashionable design in the 1780s when the house was built.

Here you can see what the house looks like in 1800. It was added on later in the Victorian era and modernized inside in the 1930s. 
I take a peek in the parlor - no fortune teller in here right now but later she told my guardian she could tell my guardian's "character" from her face. The lady said my guardian is independent and something of a free spirit. 

Example of detailed carving found in the house

Ball and claw Chippendale style furniture. This is just a sample. The real thing is amazing! I want a special chair with lion feet!

The grown-up children are experimenting with electricity. Electric parties where people play with static electricity and shock each other are all the rage in Providence. Ouch! It tingles. 

Like Caroline's Papa, Mr. Brown owns ships. His ships were the first from Providence to travel to China in 1787. He brought back some of this beautiful porcelain dishware.

Here are some paintings of the types of ships seen in Providence in the early 19th century.

Some nautical equipment. Caroline isn't the only seafaring American Girl. I'm a New Englander and when I'm time traveling, my life is tied to the sea. 

I stop and grab a snack of ginger cookies. Mmm just like Caroline's grandmother bakes. 

Then I head outside into the sunshine and play with my hoop for a little while.

This is John Brown's chariot. I'm going to take it and drive to New York and sail off to visit Caroline. I hope you enjoyed my adventure in 1800. 

Oops I didn't make it very far into the future - only another generation.

Guess that means I'll see you in the 1840s next? Bye for now!


  1. Dear Susanna, I think you need a TARDIS for your time travel adventures! You'll have to excuse me; I'm currently obsessed with Doctor Who. Anyway, I love your dress, and you fit right into that gorgeous house. I love the ornately carved staircase!

    Your friend,

  2. Dear Isabel
    I don't know what a Tardis is. I time travel with pretty clothes, imagination and sheer force of will. Staying in one place all the time gets boring. Your best friend forever,