19th Century Ghosts

A Mustache State of Mind

It’s Movember! Do you have mustaches on the brain? I sure do… In fact, I spend quite a lot of time thinking about them. Perhaps you’re wondering how this obsession began…

A few years ago, I was browsing the New York Historical Society’s open collections storage when my eyes singled out a tiny, seemingly insignificant object: a mustache comb.

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The Victorian Cottages of New Brighton, Staten Island

Nestled in the New Brighton neighborhood of Staten Island are a small number of quaint, Victorian cottages, vestiges of one of America’s earliest suburban developments. Eleven of the original houses still stand. One beautiful Saturday in September I did a walking tour with Victorian Society in America and got to see these beautiful houses in person. I even got to tour three of them!

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‘Wild Cosmos’ Atlas Obscura Baroque Salon

One recent evening I attended a Baroque concert and was rewarded with not simply music, but a beautiful, celestial experience. “Wild Cosmos Baroque Salon,” presented by Atlas Obscura, wonderfully connected past and present in a modern interpretation of the salons of old.

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Book Review: This Victorian Life

“We bought an 1888 house in Port Townsend (Washington’s Victorian seaport and long our favorite place) and proceeded to see how Victorian a life we could truly carve out for ourselves in the twenty-first century world.”

It’s all too easy to romanticize the past, and that is exactly what Sarah and Gabriel Chrisman make their life doing.

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Singer Castle of the Thousand Islands: A Storybook Dream

Singer Castle on Dark Island of the Thousand Islands is a marvel straight out of a storybook. Literally! The architect, Ernest Flagg (1857-1947), based his design around the medieval castle depicted in Sir Walter Scott’s 1832 novel Woodstock.

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Book Review: Tales of Royal Mistresses in Sex with Kings

In Sex with Kings: Five Hundred Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge, Eleanor Herman pens quite a romp through some of history’s most scandalizing pages. Divided into twelve chapters, the book explores the history of royal mistresses and details the art of pleasing a king (er…beyond the bedchamber), rivalry, jealous husbands, royal bastards, and more.

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Boldt Castle of the Thousand Islands

The Thousand Islands are a wonder in their own right. But two majestic architectural specimens residing within them deserve special attention: Boldt and Singer castles. In the Gilded Age the nation’s wealthiest flocked to the Thousand Islands for their summer retreats. Boldt Castle and Singer Castle are what remain of this era. Each, in its own way, is straight out of a fairytale. This first of two posts concerns Boldt Castle.

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A Gilded Age Wonder: Bannerman Castle

On Pollepel Island in Fishkill, NY stands a decaying wonder of the Gilded Age: Bannerman Castle. Not much remains of the once grand architectural complex, now merely a ghost of its grand predecessor, as an explosion, fire, vandalism, and natural disaster reduced it to its current fragile bones.

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Book Review: How to Be a Victorian

I very much enjoyed reading Ruth Goodman’s How to be a Victorian and no, I definitely do not want to be one.

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