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Take a virtual tour of Sandusky's interior. Over 2013-2023 Sandusky's interior was painstakeningly restored to its 1850-1870 appearance when the Hutter family owned and lived at Sandusky. Many of the furnishings in Sandusky are original to the house, the walls and floors were carefully researched and restored to their appropriate appearance. Quoted descriptions below are taken from The Antebellum Period: American Popular Culture Through History, 2004, by James M. Volo and Dorothy Volo.
“The Front Hall-: In addition to the practical purposes of providing a barrier against the cold or containing the mud and dirt from outside, the front hall of an antebellum home had a very important social function. Business dealings in these times were much more likely to be done face to face; and guests needed a place in which to be greeted when calling. The front hall provided a reception area where these dealings could take place without exposing the family’s private quarters to the view of strangers."
The front hall was the public face of the home, and it was important that it be decorated in a fashion that was appropriate to the social standing of the family. Floors could be tiled….but more often they were covered with carpet or oilcloth… Oilcloth was often made of canvas coated with a thick layer of oil-based paint and decorated with a geometric design. The effect of these designs was often remarkably similar to that of real tile, marble or carpet.”
“The parlor was the most public room in the antebellum house. Parlors were common to both the North and the South and across the social classes. Some more affluent homes had a front parlor solely dedicated to (p. 119) formal visitations and a back parlor for family use, but a single parlor was most common. The parlor was the place where important visitors would be received. Where the front hall was the public face of the home, the parlor was where the first impressions of the family were formed. Decorating decisions were made in a very calculated manner so as to project the image a family wished to portray. Parlors contained a family’s ‘best’ in every way."
“The Dining Room: The luxury of a room dedicated solely to the purpose of dining was another badge of middle-class status. Families of lesser means ate in kitchens or in areas adjacent to the parlor, set aside for dining. Dining room furniture tended to be massive, often of mahogany or other dark wood… The standard number of chairs was eight. A sideboard was a common complement, providing an excellent place to display oversized serving pieces and candelabras. Walls tended to be dark to show up well under candlelight, the standard lighting for this room. Even during luncheons, it would not be unusual to draw the draperies and eat by candlelight.”
Sitting Rooms - "Far more comfortable, more welcoming, and more frequently used was the sitting room, the back parlor, or the family parlor. In the hierarchy of rooms this was usually the “second-best” room. Because its furnishings usually included a rocking chair, a warm fire, and a table with books it was used daily by the family, and it was here they entertained their closest friends. It was a proper place for a sewing table and the writing desk….. one person at the time stated “use it for both sitting and eating”
The last room downstairs is the Johnston addition. Charles Johnston added this wing to serve as a nursery for his large family. It is unknown how the Hutters used this room however. In partnership with Hurt & Proffitt Cultural Resources Department we opted to establish an archaeology lab in this room. This lab is used as a teaching and learning platform for University of Lynchburg students seeking an education in archaeology. Artifacts from all over Virginia are processed through this lab.
The upstairs of Sandusky has not yet been restored. Eventually, we hope to restore the bedrooms upstairs contingent on fundraising.
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