Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden MVHM celebrates life in 19th-century New York and educates the community through relevant interpretation and preservation of the only remaining historic day hotel in Manhattan.

It is owned and operated by The Colonial Dames of America.

Operating as usual

The application for our Summer 2021 William Randolph Hearst Fellowship can now be accessed from the Museum website at: h...
12/21/2020

The application for our Summer 2021 William Randolph Hearst Fellowship can now be accessed from the Museum website at: https://mvhm.org/get-involved/ Fellows design an independent project that contributes to the Museum's interpretation, and they are involved with the programming and operations of the Museum. Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to apply; the deadline is March 15, 2021.

More snow at the Museum today than all of last winter!  #snowstorm2020 #winterwonderland #nysmuseum #historichousemuseum...
12/17/2020

More snow at the Museum today than all of last winter! #snowstorm2020 #winterwonderland #nysmuseum #historichousemuseum #mvhm

In the 19th century, the Mount Vernon Hotel would have served wild oysters from the East River throughout the year, but ...
12/14/2020

In the 19th century, the Mount Vernon Hotel would have served wild oysters from the East River throughout the year, but during the holiday season, American cookbook author, Mrs. T. J. Crowen, recommended that you serve an oyster pie to your guests.

In late September, we encountered thousands of young #wildoysters in the Hudson and Harlem Rivers! These glistening bivalves—attached to rocks, bulkheads, and bridges—were only visible at very low tides. Since we started restoring oysters—12 years ago at the @HarborSchool—we have only seen three oyster sets this dense! 2011, 2018, and now, 2020. Even more encouraging? Each of these recruitment events was denser than the one before. This is a clear sign that we are trending in the right direction! While we can't directly attribute these oyster offspring to the 47M oysters that we’ve restored to date, we do know that the more oysters we restore, and the better water quality becomes, the more likely we are to see wild oyster populations rebound without human intervention! 📸 Pete Malinowski

It’s the first snow of the season. The Museum gazebo looks so pretty with a dusting on the roof!  #firstsnow #nysmuseum ...
12/09/2020

It’s the first snow of the season. The Museum gazebo looks so pretty with a dusting on the roof! #firstsnow #nysmuseum #historichousemuseum #nychistory

The Museum’s 19th-century style holiday table features a beautiful punch bowl that could have been filled with Eliza Les...
12/02/2020

The Museum’s 19th-century style holiday table features a beautiful punch bowl that could have been filled with Eliza Leslie’s “Milk Punch,” a combination of brandy or rum, milk and nutmeg, with or without lemon juice or water. Virtual Holiday Tours are a great way to learn more about how the season was celebrated in the early 1800s. #nychistorymuseum #historiccocktails #nymuseums #19thcenturyhistory

East Midtown Partnership
10/23/2020

East Midtown Partnership

Check out the latest in our Faces of East Midtown series!

“Both locals and tourists love the city’s arts and cultural organizations. Although it will take some time, tourism will definitely rebound, and until that time, I know that we can all count on New Yorkers to support us." - Terri Daly, Director of the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden in East Midtown

To read Terri’s full #FacesOfEastMidtown interview, visit: www.eastmidtown.org/faces

Find our deal on Historic Neighborhood Walking Tours plus lots of other museum discounts All In NYC!
10/21/2020
All In NYC: Neighborhood Getaways

Find our deal on Historic Neighborhood Walking Tours plus lots of other museum discounts All In NYC!

Celebrate local businesses and experience the best of the five boroughs.

Today we are exactly two weeks away from Election Day. Early in our country's history, voting on this day would have bee...
10/20/2020

Today we are exactly two weeks away from Election Day. Early in our country's history, voting on this day would have been celebrated with a festival and a great cake, known as Election Cake. Although women were not given the right to vote until the 19th Amendment, prior to that they were still able to express their political voice, often through food. Join us Wednesday evening for a virtual workshop to explore "Food, Women, & Elections" which will include a demonstration on how to make Election Cake. Visit our website for details: https://mvhm.org/?events=food-women-elections-a-virtual-workshop

The Colonial Dames of America
10/06/2020
The Colonial Dames of America

The Colonial Dames of America

What will you be sipping on during the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden's 2020 Virtual Fall Benefit? Consider preparing a drink recipe from the CDA cookbook to enjoy as you listen to Adryn Sumner's beautiful piano performance and Shelby Carr's fascinating book talk on Louise Sneed Hill and Gilded Age society. Click on the link to view three featured cocktail recipes selected by the Society's President General and these two special Dames.

Happy Autumnal Equinox when the sun is exactly above the equator, day and night are equal, and we salute the sundial!A s...
09/22/2020

Happy Autumnal Equinox when the sun is exactly above the equator, day and night are equal, and we salute the sundial!

A sundial is an instrument that displays what time it is by utilizing the sun’s position throughout the day to cast a shadow. They can take various forms, from compact fold-up versions to gigantic monumental
structures. Sundials have a long and rich history which stretches back to Egypt 2000 BC. Every educated person was well versed in its concepts. They were designed with strong aesthetics and moral values in mind, although their usage was practical. Sundials were usually decorated with astronomy, roman
numerals and mottos in latin.

We have improved ways to keep time for split-second precision today, but the sundial's allure has not diminished. While the main idea of a sundial is universal, its architecture is entirely site-specific, and closely unites the spectator, the place, and the heavens. Even though the dial is fixed (no moving components!), it still tracks flickering time. While the dial is passive in nature, it
speaks clearly and leads to meditation-of the sun, the world and our place in it, of time and its passing, of history and mortality.
Sundials influence us in unconventional ways. We should admire them, even if it rains, for their beauty and craftsmanship, and historical value! We can be intrigued by their technical features, and to high accuracy that allows it to read the time and many other parameters. And
a well-designed sundial shows a wonderful mapping of the celestial sphere's locations and events, based on the relationships between the location, the dial surface, and the ever-changing sun direction.
#atumnalequinox #sundial #historicalwatches #historicsundial #historicalgarden

(Images: 4 different sundials, one bronze in the Museum garden, two round, one square )

The card game Cribbage was brought to America by English settlers where it became popular in the colonies in the 17th an...
09/21/2020

The card game Cribbage was brought to America by English settlers where it became popular in the colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries, especially in New England. Since it requires only two players, it was also adopted by sailors and fishermen as a way to pass the time. And it would have been played in the 19th century at day hotels like the Mount Vernon Hotel. Cribbage is experiencing a resurgence, so join the fun on Thursday at 6:30pm to hear about its origins, learn the rules, and practice with on-line games led by our own "Cribbage Master." Tickets are free for Members and $10 for non-members and can be reserved here: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4731176

(Image description: Ivory cribbage board and face cards on a game table.)

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment!#womensequalityday #womensequalityday2020
08/26/2020

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment!
#womensequalityday #womensequalityday2020

Happy National Waffle Day! The earliest records of waffle irons were from the Low Countries of Belgium, the Netherlands,...
08/25/2020

Happy National Waffle Day! The earliest records of waffle irons were from the Low Countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg around the 14th century. The original design consisted of two iron plates connected to two long wooden handles. The plates often had the coat of arms from their country of origin or religious symbols. It is likely that the waffle iron was first brought to New York by Dutch immigrants in the 17th century.
#waffle #wafflesforbreakfast #nationalwaffleday

(Image: hanging waffle iron) @ Mount Vernon Hotel Museum

Today's the day that the Weeks Marine rigger will travel up the East River to the waters of Soundview Park, carrying thr...
08/20/2020
Shipping Containers Turned into Oyster Tanks in Brooklyn

Today's the day that the Weeks Marine rigger will travel up the East River to the waters of Soundview Park, carrying three shipping containers retrofitted to grow and transport millions of oysters as part of the Billion Oyster Project. In the early 19th century, oysters were plentiful in the East River. They were a popular food sold from street carts and numerous oyster cellars throughout New York City and would have been served to the guests dining at the Mount Vernon Hotel.

The program could help restore about 100 million oysters.

This maple flute from the 19th century in the Museum collection could not have been played by all of the Hotel guests du...
08/13/2020

This maple flute from the 19th century in the Museum collection could not have been played by all of the Hotel guests due to social restrictions. Join us on Friday at 12:30pm for our monthly Virtual Lunchtime Lecture and find out who was not permitted to play it. Hint: this month’s topic is parlor music and music education.

(image: wooden flute)

A British writer visits a NYC resort hotel in 1829
07/20/2020
A British writer visits a NYC resort hotel in 1829

A British writer visits a NYC resort hotel in 1829

In 1828, James Stuart, a British lawyer and politician, took a trip to the United States. He journeyed to various East Coast cities, traveled through Georgia and Alabama, then went west to Missouri…

#WhatsItWednesdayBarrel Organc. 1805-20mahogany, brass, pewterFrance (probably)In the Ladies’ Parlor South stands a smal...
07/08/2020

#WhatsItWednesday

Barrel Organ
c. 1805-20
mahogany, brass, pewter
France (probably)

In the Ladies’ Parlor South stands a small, mahogany barrel organ, likely made in France between 1820 and 1825, referred to in its country of origin as an orgue de salon. Barrel organs were not only used for religious purposes, but also for times of leisure. In 1830, it is possible that a mechanical organ, or other mechanical amusements, would have been used at the Mount Vernon Hotel. At the time, musical automata were extremely popular, especially among the upper class, who were able to purchase such luxuries. Only towards the late nineteenth century did automata become more affordable. Mechanical amusements, such as the music box and the automatic figurine, originated in Western Europe and were often incorporated into small decorative boxes and ornaments.

If a guest at the Mount Vernon Hotel would have liked to play a tune in the Ladies’ Parlor, she would have begun by opening the top lid of the organ to allow the sound from the pipes to be released. Next, she would have chosen a song to play from the list beneath the lid, and selected the corresponding barrel (a wooden cylinder set with a series of protruding pins); there are a total of five lists pasted to the interior of the organ’s top lid, corresponding to the various songs available on each barrel. Then, she would place the barrel that played that tune inside of the organ. The crank handle on the left-hand side turns the barrel, and as it rotates, its pins (or staples) hit the corresponding keys (also called levers) that are positioned on a fixed wooden board directly above the barrel. There are as many keys on a keyframe as there are notes to be played, each key controlling the playing of one note. As this organ’s crank handle turns and the barrel rotates, another lever releases air from bellows inside to fill the organ’s pipes.

For tune changing, barrels are removable and numbered with different positions to correspond to the different songs contained on it. The location of the barrel inside the organ in order to change tunes is controlled by a long brass stud screwed to the right end of the carrier. The brass stud had notches cut into it, each notch corresponding in number to a tune on the barrel. The notches also correspond in pitch to the spacing of the pins in each tune. This brass stud protruded out of the right hand side of the organ case and was locked into place by a knife on the outside of the case. If a guest wanted to play “Yankee Doodle”, for example, she would place barrel number two into its position within the organ, then adjust the knife mechanism on the organ’s side to secure it.

Affixed to the interior of our organ’s lid are three separate lists enumerating popular French songs, familiar American and English folk melodies, and opera airs and theatre music. The French song lists appear to correspond with the first three barrels purchased for this organ, and contain several waltzes, country dances, and one song from an 1814 Italian opera. The titles in English that appear on the other two lists, such as America, Commerce and Freedom, Hail Columbia!, Washington’s March, Jefferson’s March, and of course, Yankee Doodle, commemorate recent American military victories, honor former presidents, and propagate the ideals of the New Republic. The same firm patriotism is evident in the naming of the Mount Vernon Hotel.

Music played an important role in the social and cultural lives of early nineteenth-century Americans. The barrel organ was an instrument perfectly tailored to public and private entertainments. The Ladies’ Parlor would have been a prime location for such an attractive, elegant piece, at a time when the hotel proprietor was interested in keeping up with the latest novelties, leisure activities, and fashions. One can imagine the excitement that stylish ladies felt when they first played favorite songs through this technological innovation: a mechanical musical instrument that requires no previous musical experience to operate.

Can you guess this week’s musical #WhatsItWednesday?It would have provided guests at the Mount Vernon Hotel with many a ...
07/08/2020

Can you guess this week’s musical #WhatsItWednesday?
It would have provided guests at the Mount Vernon Hotel with many a delightful song for listening and dancing.
.
.
.
.
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#cultureathome #museumfromhome #nysmuseums

The Colonial Dames of America
07/07/2020

The Colonial Dames of America

COL JOSEPH COLEMAN HART ( 1798-1855)
~~~Was a RENAISSANCE MAN; although, best known only to CDA as the Founder & proprietor of The Mount Vernon Hotel ( now Museum), a day hotel in New York’s Upper East Side in the 1830’s. Hart was a true professional gentleman, entrepreneur, man of the arts, and a writer. Hart is best known as a prolific author and Shakespeare scholar, the first to question Shakespeare as the author of his own work. Additionally, Hart was an well-known writer in his time. Hart’s book of fiction: MIRIAM COFFIN ( or THE WHALE FISHERMAN 1835) was an inspiration to Herman Melville, and gained congressional Support for the whaling industry. Hart was descended from all of the founding families of Nantucket, thus his point of reference. By trade, Hart was a lawyer and served in the National Guard, where he wrote several text books on geography. COL Joseph Coleman Hart was later appointed American Consul to The Canary Islands-Santa Cruz de Tenerife, where he died in 1855. Hart is buried there in the Anglican Cemetery. CDA is proud to count one of his descendants as a member, having joined on an early colonial ancestor.

AMERICA’S FIRST COLONIAL DAMES
~~~CDA 1890
www.cda1890.org

According to “Meg’s Favorites,” the six maple fancy chairs around the dining table in the Lower Hall are perfect for eng...
07/02/2020

According to “Meg’s Favorites,” the six maple fancy chairs around the dining table in the Lower Hall are perfect for engaging school groups. The chairs which date to approximately 1820 were assembly-line produced. To involve the students we might assign each of them a role. If someone in the class likes weaving, he or she is designated the maker of the rush seats. Another “Mr. Godfrey” (one of the 1820s makers identified in period newspapers) who likes art could be assigned stenciling of the gold corn husks on the chair backs. A “joiner” would connect the parts, and an artisan would paint the chairs poppy red.

They are called “fancy chairs” because they are fancifully decorated. Chairs in hotels were subject to a lot of wear and tear. Since fancy chairs were affordable, they could be easily replaced while still appearing fashionable to a discerning public; hence, the enormous popularity of these chairs at establishments such as the Mount Vernon Hotel.

(Image description: red-orange wooden chair with rush seat)

#WhatsItWednesdayGirandole / Convex Looking Glassc. 1810-20mirror glass, wood (likely pine), gilded (gesso) U.S.The Muse...
07/01/2020

#WhatsItWednesday

Girandole / Convex Looking Glass
c. 1810-20
mirror glass, wood (likely pine), gilded (gesso)
U.S.

The Museum’s second floor parlor features a circular convex looking glass set in a gilt-wood carved frame over the mantel. The frame is crowned at the top by a spread-winged eagle finial on a shaped plinth, flanked by heavy acanthus leaf scrolls on either side, which also appear on the bottom of the frame. Encircling the entire glass is a frame studded with gilt balls. The more delicately carved gilt-wood foliate (or leaflike) branches that emerge from the base of the mirror and support three candlesticks are the “girandole” part of this hybrid looking glass. The term “girandole” was used often in the period to refer to mirrors with candelabra arms, and is an Italian term referenced in Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary as “a chandelier; a large kind of branched candlestick.” This portion was added later in the nineteenth century, likely around 1850 when these motifs were popular in other decorative arts during the revival of French rococo design. Gilt-framed convex looking glasses made in the 1810s and 1820s typically feature candelabra arms as well, but these arms extend out from the sides instead of the bottom of the frame. Furthermore, there is a difference in the visual weight of these delicate branches with the heavier acanthus leaf scrolls on the original portion of the frame, showing a contrast in design styles in the earlier and middle nineteenth century.

With the discovery of how to use convex glass plates in England in the 1790s, these uniquely-shaped mirrors became popular in the United States after 1800. English furniture designer George Smith, in his 1808 Collection of Designs for Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, describes convex looking glasses as an ideal way to enhance the sophistication of a room:
“In apartments where an extensive view offers itself, these Glasses become an elegant and useful ornament, reflecting objects in beautiful perspective on their convex surfaces; the frames, at the same time they form an elegant decoration on the walls, are calculated to support lights…in general, they will admit of being executed in bronze and gold, but will be far more elegant if executed wholly in gold.”

Convex glass plates began to be imported in large numbers to retailers that called themselves “mirror manufacturers,” even though only the frame was made in America up until the 1820s. In New York City, John and Joseph Del Vecchio (1770s-1815) called themselves “Manufacturers of Looking-Glasses, Picture-Frames, &c.,” while Isaac L. Platt (1810s-20s) titled himself “Looking Glass Manufacturer” at No. 138 Broadway. John H. Williams also held a shop at 315 Pearl Street (1812-32), and advertised as a “Manufacturer of Looking Glasses in every variety of size and style”; Williams’ stamp is found marking the back of the rectangular pier looking glass in the Museum’s parlor (shown in the room photo here, to the right of the girandole). The frame around our looking glasses would be made of local woods, such as eastern white pine, yellow poplar, or birch, rather than the English-sourced spruce or pine used during the colonial period.

This looking glass is also full of symbolism. The figure of the eagle on the top was an early nineteenth century symbol representing grandeur of ancient Roman military power, and was part of the aesthetic trend of the period called the Classical Revival. Since the Revolutionary War, U.S. leaders like George Washington were depicted in public portraits and sculptures surrounded with references to the emperor-warriors of Rome The eagle was a symbol of power specifically associated with the eagle displayed atop the standards of Roman military legions.
. In print media, the eagle was also often used as a symbol of the United States’ republican government, juxtaposed with a lion representing aristocratic Great Britain. The scrolling acanthus leaves on the top and bottom of the looking glass also follow replicate the vegetation motifs abundant on ancient Roman monuments and statues depicted in nineteenth century European texts.

Address

421 E 61st St
New York, NY
10065

Bus: M15, M31 or M57. Subway: N, R or 4, 5, 6 to 59th Street/Lexington Avenue Station or the F to Lexington Avenue

Telephone

(212) 838-6878

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Destination after the ban.