The playroom reflects the sentimental view of children and childhood embraced by Victorian Americans. In colonial times, children were seen, at worst, as sinful and corrupt beings, and at best, as defective, miniature adults. In the 19th century, children were seen as spiritually pure creatures, as yet uncorrupted by the world, and childhood was considered a happy, innocent time that must be celebrated and prolonged. The old view of children was seen in Abraham Lincoln's own childhood. He was handed an ax at age 8 and John Locke Scripps said of him in 1860 that from his childhood, he was always wielding that "useful implement." Victorian culture place great emphasis on the role of motherhood for women, and at the same time, industrialization brought middle-class mothers more disposable income and a greater array of toys available for purchase through quicker and better shipping methods.
Benjamin and Helen had 10 grandchildren. Their oldest daughter, Helen Condell, had six surviving kids, and their youngest daughter, Mollie Raymond, had 4 surviving kids. Middle child Alice Ferguson was childless. Helen's family lived on a farm about 20 miles from here. When their children were old enough to go to school, they were sent to live here at Edwards Place so they could attend city schools. The east wall shows photos of Tom and Eddie, and Helen, three of the Edwards' grandkids.
This room was originally a summer kitchen. There is a masonry support for a fireplace in the cellar underneath. In 1857, the Edwards family built a new kitchen and converted this to living space. They also added an exterior door on the west wall that was bricked up sometime in the late 19th century. The dimensions of this room had been hidden for almost a century by false walls installed in 1917 to create a special art gallery space. Those walls were removed in 2014, revealing the original trim, chimney, and doorway. The square of plaster has the shadow of the wallpaper pattern. Its discovery told us that the Edwards family had the same pattern of wallpaper in both adjoining rooms. The section of lath exposed on the ceiling was riven by hand, indicating that this room was of very early construction.
The fragments of the tea set on the west wall are archaeological artifacts excavated out of the back yard. They belonged to the Edwards dasughters in the 1840s.
The toys in the room primarily did not belong to the Edwards family, but they are period exsamples of the toys we know the Edwards children owned, based on Helen's letters.
The doll on the little shelf belonged to one of the Edwards daughters.
The cap gun belonged to Thomas Condell, the Edwards' grandson.