Museum

    MUSEUM

Private Residence to Award Winning House Museum

With eleven different owners over its history, original furnishings no longer exist so the majority of Hearthside’s collections are items that have been generously donated, or loaned, in order to help bring the stories of the house to life. As a result, Hearthside is a house museum with a wide range of collections and therefore not interpreted to any one particular time period. Rather the house enjoys a rich and diverse history, telling the stories of the many different families who lived there over the past 200 years.
"Hearthside connects us with our history through a solid component 
of teaching inherent in every tour and program."

Collections

In addition to miscellaneous antiques and artifacts, over the years descendants of Hearthside’s former families have contributed treasures that were part of this household in the past, adding great significance to its history.

Talbot Family Looms (The Hearthside Looms)

Hearthside became known as "Hearthside" because of the Hearthside Looms, a hand weaving business that was run out of the 3rd floor by Arnold G. Talbot during the early part of the 20th century. Now, the original looms that both Arnold and his wife Katharine used to create some of the country's finest fabrics are back at Hearthside, in the very same place they were some 100 years ago.

This was made possible through the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, MA, where the weaving equipment was donated by Frances Talbot in her will in 1975.

Arnold’s grandson, Bill Talbot of Cincinnati, OH, has granted ownership to Hearthside upon de-accessioning of the collection by the ATHM.

The collection includes large barn looms, spinning wheels, flax wheels, table looms, parlor loom, warping frame, hand loom and a creel as well as coverlets.

The Talbots were highly regarded throughout the country for their fine handiwork on these antique looms. The Talbots weaving represented a rebirth of the American arts and crafts movement, according to the House Beautiful article in 1907.

The Talbots became the only commercial enterprise in the United States dedicated to weaving ecclesiastical fabrics by hand. With just 8 weavers, the "Hearthside Looms" produced coverlets, curtains, linen, rugs, towels, table and pillow covers, couch covers, portieres, rugs, and altar cloths to customers well beyond the Rhode Island borders.
David Davidson & Rufus Waterman Hand-Colored Photographs
For nearly 100 years, a set of hand colored photographs of Hearthside lay packed away, probably shortly after they were taken. Bill Talbot, direct descendent of former owner of Hearthside Arnold Talbot, discovered the box of prints in his Ohio home attic among other items from the family business, The Hearthside Looms. He knew immediately that the best place for these prints was back at Hearthside, and so he generously donated them to the house.

The prints, which include both interior and exterior shots of Hearthside, were done by renowned Providence photographer David Davidson. Davidson was considered to be among the foremost photographers in the country at that time doing hand colored photos. Many are quite rare, and some were taken a few years later by another Rhode Island photographer, Rufus Waterman. The prints are in immaculate condition, having barely been exposed to light during the past century.

A major public exhibit was held in 2012 with a showing of these rare prints, which included a full display of Davidson’s camera and equipment, record books, and other materials, resulting in national recognition with a Leadership in History award from the American Association for State and Local History. A major grant from the RI Council for the Humanities made the exhibit possible by funding the matting and framing of all 50 of the original prints, as well as easels to display them on. Additionally, through a grant from Historic New England, all the prints have been digitized.

The prints are not only a wonderful glimpse of New England life during the early 20th century, but more importantly they show us what the inside of Hearthside looked like at that time.Five generations of Talbot family portraits, including Silas Talbot

Meader Family Collection
Descendants of the Daniel Meader family have loaned and donated several items to Hearthside from the period 1890-1901 when Daniel and his wife Louisa lived here. Among the items are an impressive fur coat and mittens and top hat belonging to Daniel, along with his trunk, as well as Louisa’s cape and muff. Wedding dresses belonging to other family members are included in the collection. The boots worn by Daniel’s son, Willy, when he drowned at age 4 are on exhibit as well. 
1904 World’s Fair Memorabilia 
In 1904, the Rhode Island Building at the St. Louis World's Fair was modeled after Hearthside and it was one of only a few buildings not torn down at the end of the international event. The building was purchased and remodeled into a residence and one of the family members who resided there in the 1960-1970s visited the “real house” in 2013. That visit resulted in the Robert Murch family donating 1904 World’s Fair memorabilia from their private collection to Hearthside, which has become the basis for our 1904 World’s Fair tribute event. Included are numerous books, articles, photographs, postcards and other artifacts from the Fair. Additionally, Hearthside produced dozens of information panels about the many different aspects of the Fair for                                                                                       our exhibit which are now part of our permanent collection.
Talbot Family Portraits
Some of the family portraits that originally hung in the dining room when the Talbot family lived at Hearthside have been donated and restored and re-hung once again in the same room they were over 100 years ago. The portraits represent five generations of the family.

Silas Talbot was a Revolutionary War hero from Providence. He commissioned the original painting of himself from well-known Philadelphia painter Robert Edge Pine. Later, it was completed by Ralph Earle in Providence in 1785. The handsome portrait shows Talbot as a lieutenant-colonel in the Continental Army wearing a Society of Cincinnati medal. This prestigious society, of which George Washington was president, was open only to officers in the Continental Army. Also a naval officer, Talbot is best known for being commander of the USS Constitution, or "Old Ironsides."

George Washington Talbot (1775-1847) was from Providence. Named for the first president and friend of his father's, he was the son of Commodore Silas Talbot. George's son was Charles Nicoll. George was a trade merchant and joined his son in the transport of goods from China. Painting by Amey Talbot, George's granddaughter.

Charles Nicoll Talbot (1802-1874), William Richmond's father, was the principal of Talbot, Olyphant & Co., one of the country's most important companies in the 19th century engaged in the China Trade. He lived in New York City, but had a summer home in Rhode Island for most of his life. Painting by G.A. Baker 1872.

William Richmond Talbot (1837-1912) was Arnold's father. He and his wife Mary Cornelia Arnold saved the Gaspee Room (where the scheme to burn the H.M.S. Gaspee was hatched) of the Sabin Tavern and had it attached to their home at 209 Williams Street in Providence. Painting by H.L. Guild. 

Olney Family Papers – one of Lincoln’s earliest families

An extremely significant collection, the Olney Family Papers, was donated to Hearthside by Sandra Robertson of Lincoln. Her late husband Alfred had cared for the collection, and he had been a docent at the Moffett Mill, which had been built in 1812 by his ancestor, George Olney. The Moffett Mill is currently under the stewardship of Friends of Hearthside. The Olneys were one of Lincoln's earliest families. Visitors to Lincoln Woods will recognize the Olney name there...Olney Pond. The collection is filled with information about the Moffett Mill business, the Olney Thread Mill (which had been located in Lincoln Woods), letters sent by family members during the Civil War, news clippings and artifacts. Different pieces from the collection are shown frequently at Hearthside during our various exhibits. A grant from the Joseph O’Neill Ott Fund provided the archival materials necessary for proper storage of the collection.

19th Century Textiles

Numerous Victorian and Edwardian dresses, blouses, children’s attire, hats, gloves, undergarments, and other accessories are among the textiles which have been donated to Hearthside’s collection over the years. Many of the items are from Lincoln families and are on display at various times in changing exhibits. These items help bring history to life as one can imagine them being worn by family members in this home.Clothing and articles belonging to Daniel and Louisa Meader

Chickering & McKay Piano

At the heart of the Music Room is a beautiful antique piano, played at Christmastime each year. This rare square grand piano, built in Boston by Chickering & McKay, dates to around 1830. Mr. Chickering partnered with a shipping merchant, McKay, who shipped in the exotic woods for the pianos. Unfortunately, McKay’s ship was lost at sea in 1835. 

There are only a handful of these pianos known to be in existence that have the label with both their names on it. The piano was left to the house by the Mowbray family.  

Standards

In its effort to meet the highest standards in both preservation and museum standards for historic house museums, the Friends of Hearthside is a proud member of the following organizations:

  • American Association for State & Local History
  • American Alliance of Museums 
  • Historic New England 
  • New England Museum Association 
  • Preserve Rhode Island 

Museum Rentals

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While Hearthside’s primary use is as a museum, a small number of rentals are made available each year. The historic house offers a sense of informal elegance making for an ideal setting to celebrate a special occasion. The ideal group size is up to 40 for the inside of the house, and up to 100 outdoors. For more information and rental rates, please contact Hearthside at 401-726-0597 or email info@hearthsidehouse.org.
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