During my nonblogging hours, I spend a fair amount of time thinking about what educators intend to teach students and whether and to what extent students are actually learning what their instructors intend. I can’t help but wonder whether I’ve ever mastered any of the learning outcomes established by an historic institution. I suspect I’m predisposed toward certain topics like law and the environment and so I tend to focus on them even when I’m on a leisurely house tour.
For this Throwback Thursday, I review my photos of Boscobel, an historic house in Garrison, N.Y., and was both surprised by the photos I took—mostly of the gardens—and by what I remember. Here’s Boscobel as I recall it:
- It was moved to its current site after serving as a hospital during World War II.
- The nursery and the nanny are a little too close to the “master’s” bedroom and surprisingly distant from the lady of the house’s quarters. I can riff for quite a while on this subject and wonder whether the divorce rate started climbing when married people began sharing a room.
- A number of members of a household used to share the same bathwater, starting with the head of household and ending with the baby, who might soil the water (from which the phrase ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ evolved).
- Somehow closets with doors were taxed as rooms, or something like that—leading to few closets in old houses.
- Homeowners used to take in overnight guests who were traveling to or from New York City or elsewhere.
- There’s a Shakespeare theater of some sort onsite.
- Preservationists sometimes make less than ideal decisions about renovation—so I recall what looked like a linoleum floor in the entrance hall when I was there. (It has since been replaced or covered with canvas floorcloth.)
- Great view of the Hudson River, where at one point there was a somewhat unsuccessful attempt to start a rice paddy.
- Photos are not allowed inside the house. I could take pictures of Marie Antoinette’s sleeping quarters at Versailles, but colonial Americans and British sympathizers apparently still like their privacy.
So that’s what I remember, four years out. Clearly it’s time for another visit, especially now that the place has been refreshed.