The Colonial Homestead
Towards the end of the 17th century and the struggles of its earliest colonists,the colonial Virginia homestead began to take shape. The house of the planter was substantial and comfortable. The inventory of such a planter mentions, as belonging to the homestead, “a parlor chamber, chamber over said chamber, chamber over the parlor, nursery, old nursery, room over the Ladyes chamber, Ladyes chamber, entry, store, home house quarter, home house, quarter over the creek, Smiths shopp, Barne, kitchen, Dary, chamber over the old Dary, flemings quarter, Robinsons quarter, Whitakers quarter, Black Wallnut Quarter.” The house of the rich in the towns boasted a parlor, but its furnishing were simple. A white floor sprinkled with clean white sand, large tables, and heavy high-backed chairs of solid, dark oak decorated a parlor enough for anybody, says the chronicler of Baltimore. William Fitzhugh directs Mistress Sarah Bland in London (1682) to procure him a suit of tapestry hangings for a room twenty feet long, sixteen feet wide, and nine feet high; and half a dozen chairs suitable. The kitchen was typically separated from the dining-room and generally set off in a separate building, due to fires and odors. The dining-room, with its broad buffet, its well-filled cellarette, its silver plate and its quaint old English furniture. Opening out of the dining-room, between it and the parlor, ran the wide hall, with doors at either end, with carved stairway and panelled walls, often hung with family portraits.