I used the inventories to “walk through” the house of the dead, seeing everything that the committee saw as they noted, tallied, and evaluated the detritus left behind at death.
The earliest European houses in my part of New England were two-room affairs: the Hall (think ), where the family did most of its eating and sleeping, and the Great Room, where they worked during winter months.
), a three-car garage, and above all a , because their three sons play hockey and have the heroic amounts of gear that kids lug around with them from dawn-streaked rink to rink.
The couple’s ultimate choice features a mudroom I wouldn’t mind actually living in: a gleaming white space featuring a built-in hall tree with four bays for storage, state-of-the-art front-loading laundry equipment, and a slate-tiled floor with subsurface heating. They’re literally liminal spaces, areas not meant for actually living, but rather to shed the accouterments of snow, rain, and mud.
I don’t think the first European settlers were terribly concerned with mud.
I spent a lot of time peeking into their houses like a creepy, time-traveling voyeur. I wasn’t that good at standing in front of a classroom of students whose interest level could be rated as mild, but my research provided me with an excuse to while away a winter’s day studying 18th-century probate records.
These forms, developed at the height of the Cold War, felt patriotic at an anxious time when those values were perceived to be under siege.
It shouldn’t surprise us that home builders incorporated comforting features like mudrooms to connect us to our Revolutionary past, even as Sputnik soared into the atmosphere and Rosa Parks declined to give up her seat on the bus.
It first appeared in the mid-1950s, timed with the arc of tract house development and the appearance of less formal entryways at the sides and backs of houses.
The suburbanites who bought these houses liked tidiness and, as more people after World War II drove automobiles, there was a desire for a transitional space between the garage and the house proper.