A walk through time: Henry Law Farm completes catalog of 10,000 antiques (Pt. 2)


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After exiting the parlor, the tour doubled back toward the staircase, which was nestled just inside the front door, and it wrapped up and around into the second story. And the stairs were steep. Kencik even offered a forewarning before heading up. As the stairs rotated up into the next level, they became almost nonexistent on the inside track, a prime pitfall for slipping. After safely navigating the stairs, the second story opened up to reveal a hallway and several bedrooms.

The tour veered left into the first available room: the master bedroom. Its set-up was rather plain, with a closet, bookcase, and a bed tucked into the far corner. The room had a fireplace, though. It was a shallow one that would’ve been used for coal fires. Attached to the master bedroom was a bathroom. It had a more modern feel to it. That’s because it was more modernized than most other rooms. Kencik explained that the bathroom had most likely been a nursery originally but had taken its new form in the 1990s during a renovation project; Kencik added that running water and plumbing improvements drove waves of bathroom renovations during the 20th century. 

This specific bathroom possessed an iron claw-foot bathtub, and it was big enough that Kencik stated that it took four men to move. Additionally, the bathroom also featured a washstand and drawers full of early 20th-century bric-a-brac, as Kencik called it. One drawer kept a random collection of antique toiletries: early Norelcos, straight-edge razors, replacement blades, one of the very first safety razor models, and a pigskin strop, which is a leather strap used for sharpening. Wash tables weren’t held exclusively in the bathroom, though. Sometimes they were used as makeshift nightstands in bedrooms, precisely the case in the master bedroom. It allowed residents to clean up in a washbasin before getting some shut-eye. While not always, many of the stands had towel racks for drying off, too. 

In the master bedroom (and many others), one matter that almost immediately emerged was a stout waft of cedarwood. And the explanation for the aroma is simple: cedar chests and closets. They were used to discourage moths and other insects from eating or nesting in clothing. Cedar, specifically, offered strong defense against any uninvited insects, but the smell was its trade-off. Without running the risk of redundancy, it can’t be emphasized enough how in-your-face the natural pungency of the cedar was. 

There was another shelf of books just inside the door of the master bedroom; this one was more peculiar, though. The broad scope of topics covered in this bookcase was dizzying, yet it was a perfect microcosm for the Henry Law Farm’s historical haberdashery. The first shelf was nothing but National Geographic magazines from the early 1900s; even from a distance, they were easy to recognize with their traditionally yellow spines. The second shelf offered advanced Biblical encyclopedias, tomes full of Christian analysis, and children’s storybooks of popular Bible tales. Farm newsletters and almanac-style pamphlets on the lower shelves discussed several topics: prototype pesticides, horse care recommendations, seeds, technology upgrades, and even one for beekeeping. 

Venturing through the other bedrooms, they each held unique pieces or histories that made them stand out. For example, one of the smaller bedrooms displayed a large sign recognizing a renowned Percheron draft horse: Laet Sir. A third room had a stand dedicated to holding the family Bible. And a fourth room held another interesting oddity: a unique rocking chair that had taken inspiration from the downstairs parlor table. The rocker was more than meets the eye; it was also a sewing chair that housed a spring-loaded drawer beneath the seat that could pop out one side. That drawer was a perfect craft cache for holding spools of thread, pincushions, or other notions. In every bedroom — and even some of the other rooms — there were hand-crafted quilts. Some of them were double-sided, and some were single-sided, but they were all hand-stitched, nonetheless. 

As the tour followed the hallway toward the back, a servant staircase snuck down to the ground floor. And that led to the dining room.


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