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Anderson House   History

BEHIND THE SCENES

Entertaining on a grand scale and maintaining a large mansion required a full complement of servants. Larz and Isabel Anderson employed twenty-one live-in servants at Anderson House, according to the 1910 Census. These servants hailed from the United States and western Europe. Many of the Andersons' American servants were born in Massachusetts and may have traveled with the couple between their two primary residences.

The Andersons relied on their footmen, chauffeurs, maids, butlers, cooks, and housekeeper to keep the house in what Larz Anderson called "apple-pie order." The housekeeper, who oversaw the activities of the rest of the servants, would have also assisted Isabel Anderson in preparing menus and seating arrangements for dinners and other functions at Anderson House. Dinners required an extensive kitchen and series of pantries on two floors for preparing food and storing equipment that included a dumbwaiter, silver vault, ice cabinets, warming ovens, and pastry space complete with a marble work surface and open cooling shelves. When the mansion was closed at the end of the winter season, a handful of servants remained through the rest of the year to maintain the house, including covering the furnishings with muslin.

By the late 1920s, Larz Anderson believed that his was the only private home in the capital to turn out its servants in "full-dress livery" to receive guests. He referred to these formal events as "swan songs to the old order." The Andersons prided themselves on their generous treatment of their servants, particularly during the Depression, when the couple neither let go nor reduced the wages of any of their employees.

With the exception of the entertaining spaces on the first and second floors, the other three floors of Anderson House were almost entirely the domain of the servants. The lower level (now the home of the Society's library) held the mechanical rooms and storage rooms for wood and coal to fuel the fireplaces and boiler. The fourth floor was primarily the location of the laundry operation and storage rooms for the Andersons' possessions, including a large room for their traveling trunks and a cedar-lined room for housing linens and other textiles.

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From the

Library's Anderson
Family Collection

From the Library's Anderson Family Collection

Some Scraps. An Embassy to Japan: Across Siberia and through Korea to Happy Days and Associations in Tokyo, 1913
A volume from the 38-volume set of bound typescript journals kept by Larz Anderson, which document his thoughts, activities, and travels from 1888 to 1936.

Browse Library Collection