rooms & collections
With its grand staircase, oak-paneled walls and ceilings, inglenook and carved mantle, the Stair Hall is a space created by the Grundy family to impress guests as they enter the home. The Eastlake-inspired entry includes an inglenook tucked to the side where the family could receive their guests. The date of “1885” carved in the wall above the fireplace denotes the year the Grundy’s building renovation was completed and the family took up residence in the home.
In Victorian times, the library was a sanctuary where the man of the house could pursue his own studious endeavors, gather with gentlemen guests, and conduct business. Later, this particular library functioned as a home office for Joseph Grundy who met with local, state, and national political figures in this room.
Joseph Grundy’s political life spanned nearly eight decades. He spent the better portion of his lifetime lobbying for business and manufacturing interests in the United States. In 1909, he founded the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, an organization that continues the traditions of its founder by addressing the concerns of business and industry in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The décor of the drawing room conveyed to guests that this family was prosperous, educated, cultured, and cosmopolitan. The focal point of the room is a carved cherry mantle that surrounds a beautiful jeweled-glass window. Following the advice of Charles Eastlake – an architect and interior design specialist of the time – the Grundy family treated the mantle piece as a “mini-museum” and exhibited objects that the family purchased during their extensive travels abroad.
Today, the items on the mantle are placed on display almost exactly as they were when Joseph Grundy resided in the home.
Meals were a very formal and elaborate affair in the Victorian era, consisting of many courses and rules of etiquette. The household staff, stationed in the butler’s pantry just off the dining room, used specialized dishes, glassware, serving pieces, and silverware to serve the meal. The cook prepared the food in the kitchen on the lower level and sent it to the dining room via the dumbwaiter located in the pantry. After a meal, diners could retreat to the wrap-around porch just off the dining room. There, they could relax and take in the breathtaking views of the scenic Delaware River and Burlington Island.
Added in 1884, when the house was remodeled, the Grundy’s bathroom may have been one of the first of its kind in Bristol.
In the 19th century, people realized that wastewater from their bathrooms caused disease. Having toilets and sewer systems that could control human waste became a priority to lawmakers, medical experts, inventors, and the public. Although the Borough of Bristol offered water service in the 1870’s, its public sewer system did not exist until Joseph Grundy personally paid for its construction in 1911.
Mary Grundy likely used this space to run the household: planning meals and social events, and overseeing the duties of the cook, laundress, housekeeper, and gardener. In later years, this room may have been used by her daughter Margaret.
Wealthy women of the Victorian era spent a lot of time dressing and often required the assistance of an attendant. A proper lady wore a corset – a form of undergarment that was laced up very tightly and forced the female form into one with an unnaturally tiny waistline.