Sew Yesterday!

By Rebecca Solomowitz

This week’s object is a toy sewing machine from circa 1900. The sewing machine has the manufacturer’s label, “Midget”, on the base. The machine is cast iron, wood, and is painted black with polychrome, with a hand painted red, gold and green floral design along the base and body. There is a wooden handle with a metal table. This sewing machine was donated to Historic Huguenot Street by Barbara Mcnenney in 2008. It is still in working condition, although it is difficult to operate because of a broken needle.

The “Midget” toy sewing machines were created by the Foley & Williams Sewing Machine Company.1 Foley & Williams was created in 1880, and in 1882 it bought out the Cincinnati branch of the Goodrich Company. The Goodrich Company was the largest manufacturer of sewing machine attachments in that time period. The Foley & Williams Company was most well known for their sewing machines, and they had many different toy sized sewing machines besides the Midget. Other toy sewing machines are Yankee, Practical, Triumph, Victor, Poney, Reliable, Liberty and Tourist. The Midget toy sewing machine was one of the cheaper toy sewing machines during this time period, selling for $2.50 through the Sears & Roebuck catalog.




1 Askaroff, Alex I. “Foley & Williams Incorporating Goodrich Sewing Machines.” Home of the Sewalot Site.


NEWS RELEASE: Historic Huguenot Street Requests Examples of Dutch-Style Kasten

NEW PALTZ, NY (February 18, 2015) – Historic Huguenot Street seeks documentation of fine examples from private and museum collections of 18th-and early 19th-century Dutch-style cupboards known as grote kasten (singular kast). The documentation and study of these kasten will ultimately be part of an exhibit, symposium, and fully-illustrated compendium planned for 2016.

Radcliff kas from the Historic Huguenot Street Permanent Collection

Radcliff kas from the Historic Huguenot Street Permanent Collection

Although variations exist, the typical kast is a large, free-standing cupboard or wardrobe with two paneled doors surmounted by an over-scaled, molded cornice. The cupboard usually sits on a base with a single drawer or drawers and ball-shaped feet. Some simpler versions made by country craftsmen feature cut-out or stylized feet and may, or may-not have drawers. The planned study, exhibit and compendium will feature both styles.

“Kasten are known to have been made exclusively in New York, New Jersey, and coastal Connecticut beginning in the early colonial period and continuing, at least in the Hudson Valley, through the 18th century and into the early years of the 19th century,” explained Sanford Levy, Historic Huguenot Street Trustee and Vice President.

“As large, free-standing wardrobes, kasten were often the most valuable item owned by a family, and central to domestic life in colonial New York. While serving a utilitarian function as the primary storage for clothing, linens, and other personal and domestic items, these impressive pieces were quintessential to the furnishings of Dutch-American homes, signifying the heritage of the owners, as well as their wealth and social status,” said Josephine Bloodgood, Historic Huguenot Street Collections Manager. “In the 18th century, kasten were often conspicuously placed where they could easily be viewed and admired by visitors.”

Historic Huguenot Street exhibits one of the largest collections of Hudson Valley kasten in the country. In bringing more kasten to light, the exhibit will expand public knowledge regarding the historical uses, construction, and conservation of these important pieces of material culture.

To submit photos or information about kasten, please contact the Curatorial Department at Historic Huguenot Street at 845-255-0180 or

A National Historic Landmark District, Historic Huguenot Street is a 501(c)3 non-profit that encompasses 30 buildings across 10 acres that was the heart of the original 1678 settlement, including seven stone houses that date to the early eighteenth century. It was founded in 1894 as the Huguenot Patriotic, Historical, and Monumental Society to preserve their French and Dutch heritage. Since then, Historic Huguenot Street has grown into an innovative museum, chartered as an educational corporation by the University of the State of New York, that is dedicated to protecting our historic buildings, conserving an important collection of artifacts and manuscripts, and promoting the stories of the Huguenot Street families, from the sixteenth century to today.


Kaitlin Gallucci
Communications & Marketing Manager
(845) 255-1660

Meet Celestina

Hello! My name is Jessica and I am one of the new collections interns at Historic Huguenot Street. I am a junior at SUNY New Paltz, majoring in Art History and minoring in Studio Art and Religious Studies. For this object of the week, I have chosen the beautiful Celestina music box currently in collections storage.

This box functions just like little metal music boxes, only bigger. Scrolls with paper cut-outs are fed into the mechanism within the box, which then tips a needle and causes the machine to play a variety of notes. These notes become a melody when the handle on the side is turned, causing the scrolls to rotate. This box has nine scrolls in its storage drawer.



Made in 1870 by the Mechanical Organ Co. in New York, this music box is wooden, has painted designs, metal hinges and a handle. This box is also in the color of its original wood, stained and polished to a shine. A hinged frontal section flips up to reveal the mechanism so that the scroll can be changed. It also has a separate base upon which the actual body of the box sits. The top of the box reads “Celestina” and the sides, top, front, and back have floral and geometric designs. It is in beautiful condition, and still works!

The box was used in the New Hurley Church by Mr. Hendrix, who later gave it to Byron Terwilliger. Mr. Terwilliger gifted it to Historic Huguenot Street. The box has yet to be used in any of the house displays, so this is a unique opportunity to show it off to everyone who wouldn’t get to see it otherwise!



Hey There Lilah, What’s It Like On Huguenot Street?

Hello everybody! My name is Safire Santos and I am currently interning with the Collections Department at Historic Huguenot Street. I am a 5th year student of SUNY New Paltz with a major in History with a concentration in Classical Studies. This week’s object is a hand stitched wedding dress made in 1869. The dress belonged to Lilah Teller Deyo, a 9th generation descendant of the Deyo Family. This beautiful wedding dress was donated in 2014 to HHS by Lilah’s great granddaughter, Deborah W. Stack, who wanted to preserve her great grandmother’s memory for future generations.

Lilah Teller Deyo was married to John Cornish Johnson on September 16, 1896, in Ellenville, NY. Researching this dress, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Lilah lived for some time in my hometown of Ellenville with her husband in a house right down the street from where I went to high school. Lilah was considered to be “a lady of society” by locals and was a founder of the American Legion Auxiliary and member of the Scorsby Hose, Hook and Ladder Auxiliary, and also an early member of the Deyo Family Association in New Paltz, New York.


This beautiful dress is handmade and machine stitched out of cotton with an off white shear netting with long sleeves and embroidered lace overlay. This dress has a floral motif lace which ends at the shoulders and contains metal snap buttons starting at the waist and ending on the top. There are seven silk covered buttons parallel to each other on bust-lace sash. This dress ties at the waist, and the sleeves contain four ruffles. There are 5 silk covered buttons located on the wrists, and the skirt portion of the dress has two layers. The back of the skirt has three different layers, one layer is mid length and the other layer is maxi length, there is a ruffle on the back layer. There is elastic sewn in at the waist along with snaps and hooks which is how the dress would have been put on by Lilah Deyo on her wedding day. The neckline is ruffled with a collar.


Hey Ocarina!

My name is Rebecca Solomowitz and this is my first semester as an intern at Historic Huguenot Street. I am a history major with a minor in Jewish Studies at SUNY New Paltz. The first project we have been working is an inventory of the Deyo House. The inventory is allowing me to get to know the collection with a hands-on approach. This week’s object is an ocarina on display in Gertrude Deyo’s day room. The instrument caught my eye because of its unique shape. It is a flute from the early 1800s, donated to HHS by Marian Powell. This flute has a bulbous shape, round at one end and pointed at the other. The player would blow into the piece that juts out at the bottom and their fingers would cover the holes except one at a time to create music. This ocarina is made with terra-cotta clay and is painted black with gold point for decoration and musical notes. This specific ocarina has a gold stamp that says “made in Austria.”

The ocarina is in the flageolet family and is closely related to the rare triple flageolet. The flageolet family was the easiest of all instruments to play. The flageolet family in the 19th century could be compared to recorder for us today. The ocarina is still played today although it is not very popular.




MacMillan, Douglas. “The English Flageolet, 1800-1900.” Early Music. 2010. Pp. 559-570.