Victorian Christmas Decor: The Sitting Room


Before moving on to the parlor, this is the final photo of our sitting room. 

The photo today is of a large flock of angels roosting comfortably on the antique concert grand piano.   


Christmas in Our Sitting Room

This week and next we are posting photos of our Victorian Holiday decorations.  We have the house looking pretty snazzy (I believe that’s a Victorian decorating term). 

Today we are featuring the sitting room.  The tree has the featured location in our bay window and gift wrapped packages are everywhere.  Our antique concert grand piano has a flock of angels roosting on it, as does the cast brass fireplace. 

Peacock feathers decorate the swags over the doorways and the antique china cupboard housing the jewelry sales display. 




Since our mansion will be 123 years old this month I thought it would be appropriate to share with you the newspaper coverage of the open house.

Cheyenne Daily Leader

July 27, 1888


Its Hospitable Doors Thrown Wide Open Last Evening, Mr. and Mrs. Nagle’s Reception in Their New House and A Brief Description of the Mansion’s Many Beauties


The recently completed residence of Mr. and Mrs. E. Nagle was ablaze with light and brilliancy last evening.  The occasion was a house warming party with which they signalized their occupancy of the new structure.  No very elaborate exterior decorations were attempted.  Chinese lanterns strung about the lawn alone giving a gala appearance to the surroundings.

For the accommodation of the guests the new residence was thrown open to the roof, whilst in the old residence, which adjoined, the orchestra was stationed which provided music for those who desired to indulge in the pleasure of dancing.

By 9 o’clock visitors began to rapidly arrive and soon the mansion was thronged.  The guests were received by Mr. and Mrs. Nagle and their niece, Miss Hibbard.  Little groups of people found their way all over the house and having feasted their eyes with pleasure on the artistic beauties of the lower floors, the ladies particularly had a chance to go into ecstasies over the arrangement above the stairs.  Every visitor was charmed with what he saw and congratulations were showered on the host and hostess.  Lunch was served by Kabis in very excellent style.

The House Itself

The Nagle mansion, on the northwest corner of Seventeenth and House streets, presents a striking architectural appearance.  Its style is Romanesque, and the white stone used in its construction tends to give it a massive appearance.  The southeast corner of the building stands out from the direct line of the main structure and gives it its most distinctive and characteristic feature.  On the first floor a square bow window, which on the second floor takes a circular form and finally ends above the roof in an octagonal tower.  The front and side of the building are frequently relieved with angularities which adds to the beauty.  Much of the stone work is finely carved, the gargoyles above the Seventeenth street windows being particularly fine.  A portico extends across the main face of the building.

Passing through the double main doors the visitor finds himself in the hallway which divides the house into two equal parts.  To the left are folding doors leading to the drawing room and just beyond the door leading into the dining room.  To the right is the door leading into the sitting room which in turn opens into the library, an apartment which is also reached from the hallway.  Nearly opposite the library door is a stairway leading to the second floor.  On the first landing, in full view of the hall is a stained glass window of artistic design through which the light floods in mellowed streams.  The hallway is very attractively decorated.  The ceiling is laid off in panels of papier mache treated in subdued colors with bronzes and gold leaf.  The side walls are of richly stamped leather and the mirror and hat rack framed in antique oak.  The hallway itself is finished in cherry.  A chandelier of brass in Moorish design depends from the ceiling. 

So far as the decorations go, the drawing room is perhaps the most striking apartment of the house.  It contains three windows of six feet in height, the center one filled with a single sheet of beveled plate glass, all facing Seventeenth Street.  All the woodwork is mahogany but the prevailing tint of the room is a rich cream.  The royal Wilton carpet which covers the floor is unique in pattern.  The paper is of a mild tint and of a lace pattern.  The tinting is exquisite.  The ceiling is painted in oil, and the effect of the whole is one of complete artistic harmony.  An almost severely plain fireplace in bronze, old brass and copper, occupies the western end of the room.  A few artist proof drawings and some brick-a-brac  add charm to the interior of this apartment.

Directly opposite is the sitting room.  The distinctive characteristic of this apartment is it’s the northeast corner filled with a single sheet of semi circular beveled plate glass six by seven feet in  dimension  and flanked by two square plate glass windows of smaller size.  This unique feature of Cheyenne’s r residence architecture produces an admirable effect.  It may be mentioned here that each apartment, so far as its furnishing is concerned, is an artistic study distinct from any other apartment.  The prevailing tint in the sitting room is gray blue.  The carpets, drapery and wall paper partake of this tint.  The woodwork is in antique oak, and the fireplace of plastic work with exquisite panels in bronze.

The adjoining room on the same side of the house is the library, and as benefits its character, the finish is in somewhat somber colors.  The carpets and walls are of terra cotta tone.  It is finished in antique oak.  The fireplace is a very elaborate design and highly ornamental.  Panels of stained glass add richness to the room.

The dining room is of a light and airy finish.  The walls are of figured felt, yellowish in tone with heavy borders of Lincrusta Walton and ceiling painted in oil.  The whole is exquisitely modulated.  It is finished in natural oak, its floors being of polished oak, cherry and maple.  A sideboard of exquisite workmanship occupies one end of the room.  Light is received from two large windows set in frames with copings elaborately carved.  Above each plate glass is a square of colored glass set in squares and circles through which the light floods richly.  One door leads from this into the butler’s pantry and thence into the kitchen, which possesses all the most modern conveniences.

On the second floor are four large apartments and several smaller ones, each of which is a study in artistic decoration.  On the third floor are many other rooms, one of which is formed by the octagonal tower before mentioned, and is intended for a little conservatory.  The ceilings on the first floor are eleven feet high and on the second, ten.

The basement itself is one of the most remarkable features of the house.  The whole building will be heated by a large Smead furnace.  The arrangements for hot and cold air, the big filtering apparatus, the scientific pluming, sewerage, and ventilating system strike one forcibly in contemplating the improved methods in modern architecture.  Mr. Nagle himself supervised the whole work, and to his keen judgment the complete success of many unique features is entirely due.  The building, exclusive of the grounds and stables, cost about $35,000.

As usual, the newspaper didn’t always get the details  right (fireplaces in the parlor and sitting room are cast brass, the entry ceiling is carved leather, etc) but you HAVE to love the flowery Victorian wording.  It appears that it was a gala event of the first order.

The 1880 Elopement of Miss Gracie Morse

       While I was doing research, I ran across the following article from The Democratic Leader, Cheyenne,Wyoming, Tuesday Morning, May 18, 1880.  It tickled me, so I thought I’d share it with you.



       New York, May 17 — Society in Tarrytown was thrown into a flutter of excitement this evening by the announcement that Miss Gracie Morse, the eldest daughter of Rev. J. B. Morse, a niece of the late Commodore Vanderbilt, had eloped with the family coachman, George Winter.  Rev. Mr. Moore is a missionary preacher attached to Blackwells Island penitentiary.  The family has one of the most spacious and elegant residences in Tarrytown.  Miss Morse is now Mrs. Winter and is 22 years old, highly educated and attractive, and has been much courted.

       Winter is 23 years of age.  During the absence of the family today they drove to North Tarrytown and were married, returning to the house intending to keep the matter a secret.  It became nosed about and they fled and are now supposed hiding in the town.  The family are very much angered and humiliated over the matter.