The Still Room Takes a Break

We are preparing to welcome Spud in the next week or two, so The Still Room will be on intermittent break for the foreseeable future. Please check out some of my older posts by using the categories and tag cloud at the left.

Many thanks for your interest!

Elizabeth Mortlock and her son, 1779, by John Downman. If anyone knows what collection this painting belongs to, please let me know.

Sykesville Tavern, 1857

This great image in the collections of the Maryland Historical Society captures an early 19th century tavern in Sykesville, Maryland. Not all collections are available for research on MHS’s website, and their photo offerings are Baltimore-centric, but it was great to find this early image of a still-small Carroll County town.

Mostly developed by the railroad after the early 1830s, this early image of Sykesville was taken during an Artists’ Excursion on the B&O in 1857. The town, located on a tract of land originally owned by the Patterson family (of Elizabeth Bonaparte fame – see their current exhibition on her).

Unidentified Sykesville Tavern. Artists’ Excursion Over the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Photograph Collection. Maryland Historical Society.

Stripey Runaway Buys 10 Dozen Continental Buttons at a Vendue-Store in 1784

I was playing around on America’s Historical Newspapers, a digital subscription newspaper archive based on the American Antiquarian Society’s collection of historical newspapers. My mother’s family has been based in Harford County, Maryland, so a search on “Harford” often yields the quirky and interesting. Havre de Grace, the city at the transition between the Susquehanna and the Chesapeake Bay, was once called Harford Town.

I particularly liked Stephen Locket’s colorful “red and white striped silk jacket” and “blue and white striped cotton trousers.” Major Thomas Yates’s Vendue-Store was located in Frederick Street in Baltimore. Vendue-Stores hosted auctions for estates, land, and market goods, as well as sold sundries.

Stephen Locket’s purchase of 120 continental buttons makes one wonder as to his purpose. Are they for petty sutlery? His own use? Thoughts welcome, as this is not my area of expertise.

Maryland Journal, January 11, 1785. American Antiquarian Society.

Maryland Journal, January 11, 1785. American Antiquarian Society.


Wanderlust Wednesday: Hudson and Manhattan Railroad Redux

Better known as the PATH, the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad began shuttling passengers through its cast iron tunnels between Manhattan and points in New Jersey in 1908. My travels have been constrained in the last couple of months due to pregnancy. I haven’t been on a plane since October and my last trip out of the country was a 12 hour jaunt to Montreal in September. I’ve even turned down trips to Paris! Our radius of wanderlust has been increasingly contained within slowly shrinking circles centered on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Last weekend was our probably our last adventure out of the city for a bit, as we travelled over to Hoboken, NJ to see the expanding Family C-R in Hoboken, NJ.

I wrote a couple of years ago about the PATH and Hoboken station, before the damage of Hurricane Sandy. I will never forget my bleary eyed shift on my institution’s emergency response team, listening to news reports of fires in Breezy Point and flooding of train tunnels, including Hoboken’s PATH and NJ Transit (Lackawanna) stations. It was my first trip over PATH since the lengthy partial restorations to get them operational.

I find vintage photographs of the Hudson Manhattan tubes fascinating, polished, cutting edge before a period of stainless steel fluorescent decline. Compared to the utilitarian appearance of so much of the NYC Subway, PATH was built with the elegance of a turn of the century rail enterprise. What strikes me about old images of the PATH is the elegant finish of the cars and the ornamented capitals below the vaulted ceilings of the stations, still visible in stations not completely restored [read gutted] in the Port Authority era.

Postcard, Hudson & Manhattan Railroad at Hoboken Station. The capitals are still visible today. Anyone know of preserved Hudson and Manhattan cars in any museum collections today? Photo:

I’m looking forward to getting out and about in the New Year with our little guy in tow!

Entrance to the tubes in the no longer extant Hudson Terminal building in downtown Manhattan. It was demolished to make way for the World Trade Center. I particularly like its advertisement of Pennsylvania Railroad connections, making it a PATH further afield. LOL.

Transit Tuesday: NYC Department of Records Photo Archive and the Williamsburg Bridge Streetcar

The incredible site that is the NYC Department of Records Photo Archive showcases the grit and mechanics of the 20th century city. Some of the photographs are iconic, such as

If you go, use the classification tree on the left. The keyword search will find you very little if you type “subway” or “train.”

Salignac, Eugene de, 1861-1943. bps_13891. BPS: Bridges/Plant & Structures. NYC Dept of Records.

Salignac, Eugene de, 1861-1943. bps_13891. BPS: Bridges/Plant & Structures. NYC Dept of Records.

Check out this image of the Williamsburg Bridge streetcar terminal. The streetcar’s viaducts to the bridge and its kiosks used to fill the grayness that is the middle of Delancey Street today. This is the same space that is slated to become the Low Line underground park if all falls into place. Read more about the tangle of streetcar services and view some other great photos of how to cross from Manhattan to Brooklyn in the early 20th century at Abandoned Stations.

Rendering of Low Line. Photo: Wikipedia.

Remember, But Don’t Stand Still

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Remember the man who energized and shepharded the Civil Rights Movement.

Let us continue forward.

Commitment. President Lyndon B. Johnson shakes the hand of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the signing of the Civil Rights Act. Photo:, Hulton Archive/Getty Images.


Do something more today by visiting the National Archives Teaching with Documents website on The Civil Rights Act of 1964.



Viennese Fashion, Winter c. 1910.

In my mind, the teens were among the most exciting in fashion, with inventive shapes, pattern, and a whole new silhouette in play. Renders all the black coat-wearing in Manhattan this time of year all the more hum-drum.

Two women in winter attire, Austrian (Vienna), about 1910. Mela Koehler, Austrian, 1885–1960. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2012.6546.6

Museum Monday Must-Haves: Dusting Brushes

Many objects are displayed in the open due to their size or preferred presentation. Occasional accumulation of dust is inevitable. So, how do you remove it?

The days of dust rags and feather dusters in museum settings *should* be over. For many art objects, low cost goat hair hake brushes from an art supplier are preferable. These brushes should be used in tandem with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate absorption) vacuum so that the dust is just not re-circulated back onto the object, or into your airways.

Every conservator has their favorite brush. Here are a few of my go-to brushes. Work with a conservator (find one at the American Institute for Conservation website) to establish an appropriate maintenance plan for collections on open display.

Hake brushes come in varying widths.

Different styles of brushes are used for different surfaces. The long fluffy bristles of these brushes and short handles are often good for difficult to reach surfaces.

A Yachiyo Japanese cosmetic brush has very soft bristles and is good for loosely attached pigmented surfaces.




Lincoln Highway Snapshot: Fort Wayne to Wooster

5/24/2005 Wooster, OH

I am bushed. 1:30am door pounding above at Regency Inn [Ft. Wayne] led to sleep scattering thoughts. Anxious and itchy literally to leave. Tonight treated self to much deserved night in a Best Western and meal at South Market Bistro of Fig & goat Cheese tart, Pinot Noir, and halibut on lentils with mushroom & spinach. Day started in depressed Fort Wayne. Stumbled onto beautiful stretches of country Lincoln handily marked with L’s. Wonderful time capsule towns gave way to those hard and eerily silent, not helped by the gray and chilling weather. Coffee finding rule is to go to a college town where there is bound to be a coffee bar, but we don’t shun the true experience and get at least one boiled cup a day. Mrs. G now more cognizant of how much of middle America leads simple lives, many near poverty. Onto Pennsylvania tomorrow. Burma Shave.

Old Sign east of Fort Wayne. Lincoln Highway. RL Fifield, 2005.

Old Sign east of Fort Wayne. Lincoln Highway. RL Fifield, 2005.