Hyde Hall

Staffmember Susan Yard Monroe Plays the Forte Piano

Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata played on the Hyde Hall Forte Piano.

Created in Albany between 1830 and 1832, the Osborne & King forte piano is
now playable again thanks to a grant from Douglas Kent. Several new bronze strings
ordered from London replaced ones that had broken, and with a fresh tuning
the piano sounds remarkably well and resonant in the environs of the Drawing Room.

Metamorphic Chair


This dual-use piece of furniture was designed for a private gentleperson’s library. With the chair seat turned over at the hinge connected to the chair’s base, the metamorphic chair is transformed into steps to help the user reach the higher library shelves.

Wikipedia records the following:

Tables, chairs and stools containing Library Steps were patented in Great Britain by Robert Campbell in 1774 but the chair-based design did not become popular until the second decade of the 19th century. Despite the appeal of the Regency period Metamorphic Library Chair, there is limited information available on the development of the design or the firms that made them. Most design references are based on two outline sketches. The first, by Rudolph Ackermann in 1811, illustrates a Morgan & Sanders chair and the second shows a chair made by Gillows in 1834.

According to a surviving receipt, George Clarke purchased a metamorphic chair made by John Meads, Albany cabinetmaker, in 1825.

The design of the Meads chair closely followed English prototypes and was similar to one shown in the 1811 Ackermann illustration. While not original to Hyde Hall, the English mahogany metamorphic chair now in our Collections is nearly identical to the original Hyde Hall example that appears in 1930s interior photos.

Metamorphic chair: gift of Douglas R. Kent

Giltwood Style Mirrors

The largest of three mirrors is shown hanging above a mahogany pier table in the drawing room.

When it came time to furnish the main entertaining spaces of Hyde Hall in the 1830s, George Clarke selected strong, masculine, classical furniture. For the drawing room in 1833 he ordered three giltwood looking glasses from Isaac L. Platt (1793 – 1875), a New York picture-frame maker. The glass of two of the mirrors measures 66 inches long by 60 inches wide; a third, the largest, is 76 inches long by 36 inches wide. All are framed with 4-1/2-inch fluted moldings fastened with bold corner blocks. Total cost for glass and frames, not including shipping and handling was $591, which would buy you about $15,700 worth of goods in today’s money.

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