Hidden Glensheen

Hidden Glensheen – Clara’s Changing Room

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You can exit the Master Bedroom to the back of the room, and into Clara’s Changing Room:

Hidden Glensheen photo from Clara's Changing Room by Bryan French Photography

It’s a small room that Clara would have used to get dressed, put on makeup, or access the Master Bathroom.

The changing room also has access to a balcony that looks out over Tischer Creek. Something that not a lot of people may realize is that that little grassy area down by the creek was actually a favorite place for Chester to get away from it all. He would head down there with a book, and apparently the staff knew that, when Chester was down there, he was not to be disturbed.

Hidden Glensheen photo from Clara's Changing Room by Bryan French Photography

If you remember back to the Reception Room on the first floor, there was a beautiful and unique table, made using a technique called ‘pietra dura.’ In Clara’s Changing Room, there was a much smaller piece, the size of a jewelry box, made from the same technique:

Hidden Glensheen photo from Clara's Changing Room by Bryan French Photography

However, unlike the piece in the Reception Room, this one actually lists what items were used in its creation!

Stones employed –
Background – ?astestone
White – Calcedony
Rose color – Sea Shell
Green – Serpentine
Bosc – Ebony
Interior – Walnut

Hidden Glensheen photo from Clara's Changing Room by Bryan French Photography

A few things are confusing about this:

  1. I think the first word is ‘Background,’ but I’m not 100% sure about that.
  2. I can’t read what type of stone the first type is.
  3. ‘Bosc’ as a color would mean ‘greenish yellow,’ but the material listed is Ebony, which is black. It would make more sense if the background were ebony.

You can see how every one of those bits of confusion stems from the black background color. Even with the confusion, we still know more about this piece than we do the one in the Reception Room!

This is the top of a coat rack/hat rack in the changing room. The details are beautiful, but let’s look at that finial. During most of the tours, guides will talk about pineapples, and how they are everywhere in the mansion, as a sign of hospitality. I’m not buying it. This is no pineapple, even when accounting for it being stylized:

Hidden Glensheen photo from Clara's Changing Room by Bryan French Photography

I’m pretty sure it’s intended to be an artichoke, which is meant to symbolize hope. And frankly, the message of an artichoke seems more fitting to the Congdon’s story than a pineapple. 

This is a rather simple mirror, which seems surprising when practically everything at Glensheen is stylized and fancy. 

Hidden Glensheen photo from Clara's Changing Room by Bryan French Photography

But when you read the little piece of paper on the back, you start to understand why they kept it around!

This mirror, frame & all (unless glass has been replaced if broken) belonged to Mary Hollis Mannering of Hythe and Bethersden, England. It came with her to America in 1828 or thereabout.

Hidden Glensheen photo from Clara's Changing Room by Bryan French Photography

I’d certainly hang on to a mirror like that!

We’re also going to briefly step into the Master Bathroom as well, since there’s not really enough in here to warrant its own post.

The most interesting item in the master bathroom is the hip bath, or sitz bath:

Hidden Glensheen photo from the Master Bathroom by Bryan French Photography

People today bathe significantly more often than people used to. And if you had your hair done up, taking a shower would certainly ruin the hairdo, so a hip bath was a perfect way to get clean without getting completely wet. 

It’s also worth pointing out the tile work. This is typical of the house, but it’s pretty cool to see nonetheless: tile molding of different shapes and design, and you know it’s original because of all of the spidery cracking to the glaze:

Hidden Glensheen photo from the Master Bathroom by Bryan French Photography

I like this sort of thing – seeing how common, everyday items were handled historically. In this case, seeing a toilet paper holder is actually more interesting than you might think. Toilet paper on a roll (more or less as we know it today), wasn’t invented until 1890. This was a new-fangled invention!

Hidden Glensheen photo from the Master Bathroom by Bryan French Photography

The next time you use a roll of toilet paper, keep in mind that in the history of the world, it’s a new phenomenon!

Next room: Chester’s Room

Previous room: Master Bedroom

 

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