NEW YORK STATE ROOM - MEMORIAL CONTINENTAL HALL
Memorial Continental Hall in Washington, D.C., is the building that houses the DAR Library. The 33 state rooms that are maintained by individual state organizations under the direction of the Curator General and the DAR Museum staff are also located in Memorial Continental Hall. The DAR Museum, including the state rooms, is open to the public free of charge.
The New York State Organization has maintained its room since 1910. The room, originally a memorial to the four DAR Founders, served as the office of the Recording Secretary General until completion of the Administration Building in 1923.
The New York Room represents a parlor reflecting the strong influence of China on American decorative arts during the period 1790-1820. Prior to the Revolutionary War, the American Colonies could only receive Chinese goods through England. After the Revolution, American trade with China became an individual enterprise and ships sailed directly from America to China. The first ship to sail for China, the Empress of China, left New York City on February 22, 1784.
As New York City and other American cities became increasingly cosmopolitan and wealthy, residents proved to be enthusiastic consumers of Oriental teas, silks, nankeens (buffed cotton), chinaware, and other commodities. This parlor contains items that reflect this consumerism and it is shown in use for entertainment purposes.
Prior to the 1740s, Chinese porcelain and tableware were decorated with traditional Chinese motifs. After direct trade was established, some American consumers expressed their personal national character by ordering Chinese porcelain decorated with American symbols like eagles, state seals, and popular national figures. The Chinese hard paste porcelain teapot and creampot in the cupboard were made between 1795 and 1810. Both depict symbols of the State of New York.
Parlors were the places wealthy families entertained in early American homes. Guests were invited to drink tea, listen to musical instruments, and play games. Both men and women participated in games of chance, such as dice, chess, cribbage, backgammon, and card games. Tables, some made specifically for the card gaming, would have been placed around the perimeter of the room and brought out when entertaining guests.
Items on display in the New York State Room include:
Bracket Clock, made by Thomas Wightman in London c. 1740. Brass, ebony, glass, and steel.
Sofa, made in the United States c. 1820. Mahogany, upholstered in satin.
Looking glass (convex mirror), made in the United States c. 1820. Wood, gilt, silver plate.
Side Chair, made in England c. 1780. Mahogany, reeded, upholstered.
Persian Rug c. 1870. Wool and cotton.
Wallpaper, "Jardin Chinois" pattern. Handpainted in Hong Kong, 20th century.
Pianoforte, made by John Broadwood & Son, London, 1806. Mahogany veneer, ebony, brass.
The newest addition to the New York Room is a pianoforte given to the DAR Museum by Gadsby's Tavern (the date of the pianoforte is outside their collection and interpretation range). It was formerly owned by the Lloyd family of Alexandria, Virginia, from 1832 to 1911.
This instrument is an early grand pianoforte, with the strings perpendicular to the keyboard, dictating the bowed-in-side shape of the case.
The case is striped mahogany veneer with white stringing. There are three brass lid hook rings on the sides. The trestle stand is separate from the case, which makes moving the instrument much easier. The keyboard has 5 1/2 octaves. The black keys are solid ebony. The large size and relative formality of the New York Room made it seem an appropriate site for this pianoforte. It is very similar in style and date to a pianoforte at Colonial Williamsburg.
On the nameboard of the pianoforte is painted and stenciled:
1806 John Broadwood & Son Makers to his Majesty and the Princesses Great Pulteney Street, Golden Square London.