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Alliance Historical Society

Mabel Hartzell House Tour - Victorian Parlor


The word "parlor" comes from the French word for "speak" or "conversation". A very formal and elegantly furnished room, it was used exclusively for the receiving and entertaining of guests, most frequently on Sunday afternoons. It was never used as a "living room" by the family.

The parlor had a certain mystique and was especially fascinating to the children of the family who were never permitted to enter it. To insure its absolute security, the doors to the parlor were always kept closed.

As the Twentieth Century progressed and the way of life became more relaxed and less formal, the parlor gradually disappeared from American homes.

Items in the parlor:

  • Stereoptican - This was a favorite parlor pastime during the Victorian era. The pictures were made by using two lenses in one camera. It gives a three-dimensional picture to the viewer.
  • Love Seat and Four Chairs - This is an Earley family original.
  • Eastlake Cylinder-front Secretary - This burl-veneered piece dating from 1865 to 1880 has drawers that are peg-and-scallop "dovetailed".
  • pump organ
  • Pump Organ - This organ was electrified using a sweeper motor. In 1962, the students at Morgan School saved pennies to purchase this organ for the Mabel Hartzell Home. On Sunday evenings, the Victorian family would gather with friends around the organ and sing hymns.
  • Steel-engraved Picture of Village Blacksmith - This picture was also displayed in Washington, DC in the room where President Lincoln died. The house is across the street from the Ford Theatre.
  • Calling Cards - In the rose bowl on the center table. As visitors would come "calling" on the family, they would leave a card with their name and contact information on it.

Other items include an autograph book, family Bible, and Daguerreotype pictures, which were named for L. J. M. Daguerre who invented the process.

Next we enter the Entry Way.

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