It’s fair to say that unless you live in one of those beautiful modern-architecture-all-glass-walled apartments or houses with a bigger-than-a-matchbox kitchen, your abode could stand a little updating (I know my apartment could really do with a fresh coat of paint… or maybe I should just clean it more). The recreated apartments at 97 Orchard Street are no different – but our updating needs to stay firmly in the past!
In June, one of our curators, Pamela Keech, gave the Baldizzi apartment a good summer refresher! While the changes may seem small, they go a long way to conserve the apartment and they certainly brighten and liven up the space.
The kitchen was the first room to get a sprucing up: Pamela removed the curtains from the window between the kitchen and the bedroom, which were in poor condition, and replaced them with new, freshly ironed ones. She changed the tablecloth on the kitchen table and placed Adolpho’s hat on the table to give the room a more “lived in” feel. The apron hanging on the wall has been changed to another. Lastly, one of the dishtowels that were originally on the clothesline was removed and folded below for the sake of the towel’s conservation.
In the parlor, Pamela moved a dark colored dress that was hanging on the wall to a suitcase to relieve the stress hanging puts on the thin fabric; she replaced it with a white dotted dress. She also added a Kewpie doll on the windowsill between the kitchen and the parlor. This doll has a wonderful story behind it; Josephine Baldizzi, who was a little girl when her family lived at 97 Orchard during the 1930’s, told the museum that she treasured a doll very much like the one we added after her father won it for her at the San Gennero Festival – a street fair that has taken place in Little Italy since 1926.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, in the words of Pamela Keech, “You can look forward to a neatly folded stack of men’s underwear, again, as soon as I iron them.”
Here at the Tenement Museum, we strive to create the most authentic, period-appropriate living spaces through which we lead our guests… and that includes ironing underwear.
-Posted by Lib Tietjen