The Homestead Parlors Furnishings Plan

The Homestead Double Parlors

View of double parlors
View of Double Parlors, 2006

With their marble mantels, pocket doors, and French doors opening onto the west porch, the paired parlors exhibit the architectural renovations the Dickinsons carried out upon their reacquisition of the Homestead in1855. Typical of conservative New England parlors, the furnishings represent those acquired at the time of the marriage of Emily Norcross and Edward Dickinson (1828) and those acquired to keep their home reasonably in step with fashion. The furnishings presented here represent a mix of pieces from the first to the third quarter of the 19th century. Martha Dickinson Bianchi and T.W. Higginson both recall the double parlors as somewhat cold and stiff in appearance. The overall feel of the parlors will, therefore, be reserved although not necessarily out of touch with fashion. It is presumed that most pieces that were in the home at Pleasant Street were moved to the Homestead in 1855.

Themes associated with this space (from the Museum's interpretive plan):

Emily Dickinson's internal musings, manifested through her poetry and letters, were most significantly affected by personal relationships, a superior education, and an intense intellectual curiosity about religion and the natural world.

The Dickinson family was a prominent family, its fortunes intimately connected with that of the community and the larger social, political, and economic climate. The family's social and intellectual ambitions affected and informed their lives in significant ways. 

See also the furnishings plan for The Evergreens library.

Homestead parlors floor plan
Floor plan of double parlors with numbers corresponding to major pieces in furnishings table at left.

Objects pictured and described below correspond to numbered locations on the floor plan at right. 


Piano – 1

Proposed Location: NE Wall
Include copies of piano music on the piano

Piano stool

Piano stool – 2

Proposed location: NE wall

Card table

Card table with pineapple pedestal – 3

Proposed location: Center of south parlor
Open table to serve as parlor table;
lamp burn marks indicate that it was
used as a parlor table


Parlor lamp – 4

Proposed location: On parlor table
Acquire similar example with white frosted
and engraved globe

Empire chairs

Empire chairs – 5

Proposed location: Place throughout room,
including one near parlor table
Three of the set to be reupholstered in
black horsehair

Mahogany sofa

Mahogany sofa – 6

Proposed location: South parlor, east wall
Reupholster in black horsehair

Work table

Work table – 7

Proposed location: North parlor near rocking chair

Work basket

Work basket – 8

Proposed location: On work table
Include fabric, needles, etc. to suggest sewing

Rocking chair

Rocking chair – 9

Proposed location: North parlor near work table
Add shawl to back of chair

Gilt looking glass

Gilt looking glass – 10

Proposed location: South parlor, south wall between windows
Move from Homestead Library to Parlor

marble-topped table

Marble-topped table – 11

Proposed location: South parlor wall beneath looking glass

easy chair

Easy chair – 12

Proposed location: South parlor

ottoman footstool

Ottoman footstool – 13

Proposed location: South parlor in front of easy chair

porcelain tea set

Porcelain gilt-edged tea set – 14

Proposed location: On tray on table beneath south parlor looking glass

painted tin tea tray

Painted tin tea tray – 15

Proposed location: On tray on table beneath south parlor looking glass

canterbury (music rest)

Canterbury (music rest) – 16

Proposed location: North parlor near piano


Whatnot – 17

Proposed location: South parlor


Tete-a-tete – 18

Proposed location: North parlor

pair of owls

Pair of owls, "Valentine's Day" plaster cast – 19

Proposed location: On north mantle or on whatnot

ruby decanter and three glasses

Ruby decanter and glasses – 20

Proposed location: On north mantle