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Turns of the Centuries Exhibit > The Land 1880-1920 > Private Space
This theme in other eras: 1680-1720 | 1780-1820 | 1880-1920

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.

Private Space : Ensuring Privacy


In the final decades of the nineteenth century, Victorian architecture rejected the neoclassical, temple-like designs of the early republic. Multiple rooflines, conical towers, and mansard roofs adorned homes whose interiors featured sprawling floor plans. Just as significant, although less visible, were the ways in which the residents of these homes organized these interior spaces. The desire to separate public and private spheres, already present a century earlier, intensified. Rooms in this period also reflected a growing desire to provide individual family members more personal space and privacy. Doctors and educators urged parents to provide separate rooms or, at least beds, for their children. Washstands and basins in the bedrooms combined the new concern for privacy with greater attention to personal hygiene. Families segregated adults and children within a house. Young children frequently ate at an earlier hour and away from the adults of the family. More people set aside playrooms or "nurseries" for their offspring.

Not everyone could afford to construct a new dwelling, nor did everyone wish to build a new home in the latest fashion. By the late 1800s, many Americans were becoming increasingly attracted to the homes and artifacts of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Their fascination with America's pre-industrial past fueled what became the Colonial Revival Movement.

Agnes Higginson and her husband moved into an older home in Deerfield, Massachusetts. They were among the first, according to one descendent, to "choose a house in Deerfield solely for its beauty." In a letter to her older son, Steven, Agnes described how she had arranged and furnished the house she fondly called "the homestead." The floor plan she included reveals the ways in which the Higginsons used an eighteenth century house to fit a Victorian culture and lifestyle.


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Plans of the Higginson House on The Street in Deerfield

artist   Agnes Gordon Cochrane Higginson (1810-1888)
date   Apr 24, 1854
location   Deerfield, Massachusetts
width   8.25"
height   6.75"
process/materials   manuscript, paper, ink
item type   Plans/Architectural & Seating
accession #   #L00.066

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See Also...

Letter to Stephen Higginson III from his mother Agnes Gordon Cochran Higginson

Old House in Essex, MA

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