How Was Winter Gear Dealt With in Olden Times?

published Nov 13, 2015
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Q: I’m from upstate NY, where the winters are cold and snowy. Almost all the old houses—every era, from Dutch homes of the 18th century through the Victorian period—don’t have closets by the front door. Most don’t even have space for a coat rack by the front door. So in 1865, people would come into the house from the muddy street, wearing wet, filthy, dirty, muddy shoes/boots and wet coats and…. what?

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Track it through the house? Take off everything and carry it through the house?Hand it to a servant? But surely not every house had servants. And guest couldn’t have been asked to take off their wet boots, could they?

Are there any historians or architectural historians out there who can solve the mystery? -Sent by Mickey

Editor: Mickey, that is a fascinating questions and I can’t believe I never thought of it—I live in a 100-year-old house in a place with severe winters, and there’s no coat/boot/gear storage to be found! Perhaps the answers you seek might also help those who live in recently-built studio apartments and any other homes that are short on space and closets. Where did all the gear go?

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