The Hidden Cabinet Discovery
by Vincent Longo
Board of Directors, Loring Greenough House
After 260 years, Loring Greenough House still surprises us and continues to reveal its secrets. Recently, a small hidden cupboard was discovered in the dining room closet. Inside the cupboard was a five-piece silver-plated tea set, covered with dust and blackened by tarnish. Engraved on the largest pot is the inscription, “From the boys at Parker Holmes & Company, Oct. 27th 1888.” Research shows that Parker Holmes & Company, located at 141 Federal St. in downtown Boston, sold “shoes and shoe accessories.”
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Was the tea set a retirement gift to a longtime employee, or perhaps a wedding gift presented to a young colleague? And how did it make its way to the Loring Greenough House? These are mysteries yet to be solved.
The tea set was made by the Reed and Barton Company, a prominent manufacturer based in Taunton, Massachusetts. Reed and Barton was in business from 1824 to 2015. During the Civil War, the company produced weapons for the Union Army. To this day, many Reed and Barton items are used in the White House.
The design motif of the tea set is typical of the Aesthetic Movement, popular in the late 19th century. Newly restored to its original luster and beauty, the tea set is the most recent treasure added to the house’s collection and is proudly displayed in the secretary situated in the Marble Room at Loring Greenough. Do have a look next time you visit.