Van Cortlandt House

Van Cortlandt House Museum

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East and Dutch Chambers

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East Chamber

Back in the 18th century, social gatherings and celebrations such as balls, birthday parties etc. used to last much longer than a single day or evening. Considering the amount of time and difficulties it used to take travel long distances, it would become imperative for the hosts to offer lodging to their guests. When offered lodging, majority of guests use to accept the invitation either because of the distance involved or the reluctance to leave the festivities! This where chambers like East and Dutch chambers use to come into picture. The East chamber is a room situated on the second floor of Van Cortlandt House and was created specifically for visiting guests who were travelling with a small baby.
The chamber is well furnished with a bed and window curtains which are created from a reproduced English, wax resisting fabric that many New Yorkers would use back in those times. This kind of upholstering with a matching fabric would be referred to as ‘en suite’ involving curtains and furniture created from or covered in a single type of fabric. Such style was extremely popular during the 18th century. Imported fabric used and displayed in such an elaborate manner was only within the reach of wealthy families of those times.
The East chamber also has a dressing table and a William and Mary chest of drawers, both of matching colors and created in the New England back in 1710. The dressing table has a provision of a mirror hanging over it, used by men and women of those times to sit down and groom themselves for the gatherings.

Dutch Chamber

The Dutch chamber, also situated on the second floor of the house is a perfect representation of how homes used to be in the New Amsterdam area, a Dutch colony that had been established in the Manhattan Island back in the 17th century. This chamber was created much later in the year 1918 by the NSCD (National Society of Colonial Dames).
It’s an all-purpose chamber which has every provision for activities like sleeping, eating and cooking, and was meant for accommodating middle-class families. The conventional Dutch Nook bed used to keep parents warm in the top area, while children used to feel snug in the compartment below. Students visiting the house are allowed to crawl inside the bed’s lower compartment in order to get a first-hand experience of how kids used to feel sleeping in such closed spaces back in those times. While some may find it too close for comfort, others may feel very cozy inside it. Some of the other inclusions of the Dutch chamber are:
- A painted ‘Priksled,’ property of Jacob Hop, is used by children on snow and ice, and propelled with the help of tiny poles (quite like ski poles).
- The painted bed steps made of pine were created in Hindelopen, Holland back in the 18th century.
- The painted cabinet was created back in 1700 in Hudson River Valley. Only six such painted cabinets were ever created and each was customized for a Dutch family.