Thursday, September 19, 2013

Rose Hill Manor Park & Children's Museum--The Manor House

Rose Hill Manor Park & Children's Museum is one of the most historic houses in Frederick, Maryland. It dates from the late 1700s and was initially built as a home for the daughter of Thomas Johnson, Maryland's first governor. He gave the land to his daughter Ann when she was married and the young couple soon built a house on the property. After Johnson became a widower, his daughter invited him to come and live at the house with her family. The museum reflects life in the late 18th and early 19th centuries on the estate. The house is still in fantastic condition and we visited on a day with great weather and no other guests, so we had the place to ourselves.

Rose Hill Manor house

Inside the house, the entrance hall is the ticket office. We graciously accepted the offer of a guided tour of the house and surrounding buildings. A costumed docent named Pat led us to the first room, the parlor. She explained that only good friends and honored guests would be invited into the parlor. The room was also for entertaining visiting dignitaries. George Washington was a friend of Thomas Johnson though he did not visit the house. John Quincy Adams's wife did visit when her husband was on business in the area. She is Ann's cousin so it is not surprising for the President's wife to just drop by. The parlor is certainly large enough to keep a small crowd amused.

Portrait of Thomas Johnson's family (and Washington off on the side!)

Relaxing bit of the parlor

Musical bit of the parlor

Our tour next went upstairs to one of the work rooms. Our guide told us that often in the evenings children would, instead of watching television, help out by carding wool. Children accomplished this by brushing fistfuls of wool with two metal brushes (much like current day dog brushes) 100 times until the wool was straight and clean.

L with some nearly done wool

Then the mother would spin the wool into yarn on her spinning wheel. Pat gave a brief demonstration. Then she showed us a wool clock which was used to measure how much yarn was made. It had a wooden mechanism that would pop when ten yards were complete. The wool clock has a nickname--the weasel. So it really is all in fun until pop goes the weasel!

Spinning wheel and wool clock (hexagonal gismo on right)

Our next visit was to the master bedroom, which features a bed so tall that they had a small staircase to get in! The idea of having a tall bed was to take advantage of hot air rising, or so said Pat. She also showed us the washing bowl and pitcher which was in use since  indoor plumbing was not available back then.

Main bedroom

Just outside the main bedroom a small desk is displayed, presumably the sort used by the colonial crowd for running a business.

Colonial desk

Across the hall is the children's room, which showed their living conditions as well as many of their toys. The play china tea set is made from real china since they didn't have plastic back then. L loved the doll house which all visitors are welcome to play with.

Children's room

Doll house

Back downstairs, across the hall from the parlor is the dining room, which was laid out for a fancy dinner. Some of the wall plaques described the dinner served during the President's wife's visit which included several courses of meat and fowl. It must have been quite a hassle to cook!

Dinning room table (with desserts in the back!)

Right next door is the kitchen. The kitchen fireplace is still in use periodically. Pat showed us a basket on a long metal handle that they use to pop corn when large groups tour. Sadly, we were not a large group, nor was the fire lit so we couldn't have a snack anyway.

Fireplace with all the gadgets

Over at the table, she showed us how sugar came in large cakes that had to be broken up and ground down in a mortar and pestle. Cinnamon sticks were grated on metal graters to make the spice. J and L tried out both activities. When J went to smell the ground cinnamon, he accidentally breathed out on it and blew a brown cloud into the air. We coughed and laughed in equal measures.

L mashes the sugar into crystals

J and L grind cinnamon sticks

The next part of our tour took us outside the house to visit the other buildings in the park. More on that in the next post!

No comments:

Post a Comment