Broadway, New York City
Watercolor attributed to Nicolino Calyo, 1840-1844
Museum of the City of New York
South Parlor of Abraham Russell, New Bedford, Massachusetts
Watercolor by Joseph Shoemaker Russell, 1848
Old Dartmouth Historical Society, New Bedford
View from the House of Henry Briscoe Thomas
Unknown artist, c. 1841
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Mrs. A. W. Smith's Parlor, Broad and Spruce Streets, Philadelphia
Watercolor by Joseph Shoemaker Russell, 1853
Here's what Ms. Garrett writes in At Home about shutters:
"First advertised in American newspapers in the mid-1700s, slatted shutters had become universal by the mid-1800s, for they protected household furnishings from the effect of sunlight; they discouraged the free entry of flies and mosquitoes; they screened out the dust and sand that blew about the streets; they enhanced privacy; and they promoted summer comfort."
We use our shutters at Darlington House. During the summer we often close them for days at a time, both to reduce our energy consumption and also because the light that comes through the slats is wonderfully pleasant; I'm convinced that the rooms even appear cooler. During storms we often close all of the shutters on the house to protect the windows from blowing debris, and we also close them when we are away for weeks at a time. I love the way the house looks with all of its shutters closed, the place all battened down. It is curious how many comments we get from neighbors (and strangers, for that matter), as many of them have never seen a house whose shutters are used as they were intended.
Reggie closing a shutter at Darlington House
Venetian blinds are a highly efficient means of controlling light and privacy in one's rooms. Just as we use our shutters, we also use our blinds to regulate light in our dining room, and also for effect. Unlike roller blinds, they allow one to see out the window when drawn, so it is possible to have full privacy but still have a sense of the outdoors. There are many options for how one configures the blinds, depending on how much privacy or light is desired. And on top of that, they are exceedingly handsome, neat, and plain.
Watercolors and drawings from At Home: The American Family 1750-1870, by Elizabeth Donaghy Garrett, Henry N. Abrams publisher 1990;
All photographs by Boy Fenwick