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The Ground Floor

The Kitchen

Kitchen

You are now in the center of servant life here in the Gibson House. 

Work started early and ended late, so this room was almost always occupied. The servants gathered here for meals and to talk about their days, their employers, and their lives. The cast-iron stove built into the wall was running more or less constantly. The cook used it to prepare meals, and it was also the source of hot water for the house until around 1900. Keeping the fires stoked, both under the stove and around the house, was a crucial job, shared by the cook, the chambermaids, and the only male servant, the "man-of-all-work."

 

Be sure to look above the main door frame to gaze upon one of the most important features of this room: the call bells. 

A mechanical call bell system allowed Gibson family members to summon a servant from all over the house, at any time of day (or night, since there are bells located outside the servant bedrooms on the fifth floor, as well). This was replaced by an electrical system early in the twentieth century.​

The Laundry Room

Laundry
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Although this room might not be accessible now during our plaster restoration work, for the servants in the house, the laundry room would have always been much like it is today: an active working space!

Doing laundry during the Victorian Era was a very physically demanding job, likely taking the laundress the better half of a week to complete one load of laundry. One of the servants, Mary McDonnald, who was an immigrant from Canada that was originally hired as the family's nanny in 1873, would later take on the role of laundress here in the Gibson House once the children had grown older. It was in this small room where she would have been spending a majority of her day. 

If you want to learn even more about servant life in the Gibson House, come join us for our Upstairs Downstairs tour!

In a photo album, Rosamond Gibson preserved a carte-de-visite, or photograph, of servant Mary McDonnald in her wedding finery, circa 1891.

Where to next?

Parlor

Parlor

Entry Way

Entry Way

Dining

Dining

Library

Library

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