Basement

basement-layout
The servants worked downstairs in the basement. Servants’ work areas included the original “Old” Kitchen, Scullery, and Larder.

The “Old” Kitchen as it appears today

The “Old” Kitchen served the Johnston and Felton families, before the Hay family converted the upstairs butlers pantry into a modern kitchen. This kitchen was unique because it was connected to the house, unlike most kitchens in the period. The floors were made of slate to help prevent fires. The “Old” Kitchen now has the four work tables from the Johnston period and cabinets from the Felton period.

The furnace pit in the Scullery

Next to the “Old” Kitchen is the Scullery. The Scullery was used to wash and possibly store pots, pans, and other kitchen utensils. The Scullery had water absorbent Minton tile where the basins used to be. Another interesting feature was the furnace. While all the details of how the furnace worked are unclear, we do know that the furnace provided central heating and hot water for the bathrooms on the fourth floor. Both the Minton tiles and the furnace pit can be seen today in the gift shop.

Original meal or grain storage bins in the basement.

Another important feature of the servant’s work area was the Larder which was used for food storage. Shelves and bins hang from the ceiling to prevent mice and insects from getting into the food.

Although guests rarely, if ever, saw the rooms downstairs, the decorative finishes in the Basement were not spared. Ornate plasterwork, custom cabinetry, wood graining, and faux finishes similar to more public rooms of the house can be found on the lower level. Living areas on this floor included a Summer Dining Room (now the orientation room), Summer Bedroom (staff offices), and the Summer Parlor (exhibit room). In addition, a critical component of the built-in ventilation system was located in the Wind Tunnel at the end of the Back Hallway.