Furnishings & Personal Belongings


Much of the family’s personal and domestic belongings — furniture, kitchen ware, lighting, clothing, and household textiles — is on display in the house, as is the family’s immense library of books.

The "Fish chair"

The furniture collection includes about a dozen pieces made in Rhode Island and brought toVermont in the 1790s, including chairs, tables, a desk, and chest on chest. The most iconic of the Rhode Island works is the “Fish Chair” — a Banister-back armchair of ca 1750 in which an ancestor was sleeping when he died. Several pieces made by Vermont Quaker cabinetmaker and Robinson in-law Stephen Foster Stevens bear his signature. (Complementing the Stevens furniture is a daybook from his shop, 1822–1835, a diary of his apprenticeship, and letters and photographs.) Desks are particularly numerous — nearly one in every room! — and include examples of Rhode Island, Stevens, and Vermont lineage. A large drop leaf dining table, several sets of chairs (both hand and factory made), Victorian settees, small side tables, cupboards, book cases, clocks, chests, and blanket boxes are all on exhibit in the house.

Rachel Gilpin Robinson's dress

Two kitchen cupboards display ceramics and glassware, and the hearth is surrounded by iron pots large and small, cooking implements, bed warmers, an old gun, and candle box. Bedrooms are outfitted with bedsteads of turned maple; wash bowls and chamber pots stand ready nearby. Lamps of various eras and styles, candle sticks, band boxes, a Victrola and musical instruments, sewing boxes, children’s toys, pipe racks, wood stoves, canes and walking sticks fill the parlors.

Books are another constant in the Robinson family home — nearly every room has at least one case full. Two floor-to-ceiling cases hold books in storage. Like most things in Rokeby’s collection, the books date from the early eighteenth century to the mid-twentieth. Special strengths include Quaker, abolition, and social reform literature.