If many visitors think Chamberlain's library is the 'soul' of the house, others feel that the Parlor would be its 'heart'. This is where the Chamberlains formally entertained their guests.

When Chamberlain was Bowdoin College's president, he would set aside Thursday evenings each week, and invite students to come and discuss the day's news, and to socialize. There must have been times set aside in these evenings for music, too; here, Fannie would play the piano, while Joshua accompanied her on his bass viol, and they would sing together. It was said that Joshua had a beautiful singing voice.

Here's one of the Queen Anne-style chairs described (left), and the piano. The sheet music on the piano is for the Civil War song "Just Before the Battle, Mother", written by George Root, one of the best-known Civil War-era songwriters.

Ironically, Mr. Root was related to Chamberlain by marriage: his sister was Helen Root Adams -- Fannie's young stepmother.

Photo by David Williamson.

Do not use without his express written permission.

Many of the furnishings in this room belonged to the Chamberlain family. There's a Queen Anne-style lliving room set, that was once upholstered in blue. But now, due to age, they've faded to the point they almost look white. The chairs' buttons, however, still show that original shade of blue. This chair set was auctioned off by Emery Booker, but it was eventually returned to the house by the descendants of the family who bought them. There is also a piano in the room, and it now stands where it did, when Joshua and Fannie entertained their guests.

Another look at the Chamberlain family's piano.

Photo by Mindy Eckler.

Do not use without her express written permission.

On the north wall, there is a small bay section, containing a fireplace. The bay's sides angle back, and have windows running from the top of the fireplace mantel to the ceiling. These windows are mirrored with muntins, to give it the appearance of a window, and they run from the top of the mantel to the ceiling.

Here is the fireplace bay described above, along with some of the Queen Anne-style chairs.

Photo by David Williamson.

Do not use without his express written permission.

In the center of the room is one of the more unusual architectural aspects of the house: two large round poles, one made of wood and the other made of steel. These were put there at the time of the first floor addition in 1871, and support the bearing wall, above which used to be the exterior north wall of the original 1825 house.

Another view of the parlor fireplace, with a good look at one of the poles supporting the ceiling.

Photo by Mindy Eckler.

Do not use without her express written permission.

This room took about two years to restore, from 1996 to 1998, at a cost of almost $80,000. The walls were painted a beautiful china blue, and the ceiling had a decorative border -- some of it is original, and some of it is restored. The visitor can even see an unpainted section behind the room's oak entry door. This is how the restorers discovered the original wall color.

Above, in the center of the ceiling, is a colorful mural, with gold hand-painted borders, and it's surrounded by scenes from Chamberlain's life. It was found when workers took out the drop ceiling, left from when the parlor was divided into apartments. The rest of the ceiling was in very bad shape--but the mural, fortunately, was saved, since it was hidden from light for so long. Because of that, all it needed was some cleaning. And now, it looks brand-new.

Here's a side view of Chamberlain's home, taken from a new park situated next door. The tall chimney is for the front parlor's fireplace.

Photo by David Williamson.

Do not use without his express written permission.

One of the display photos in the room also shows a very intricate chandelier, which once hung from the center of the ceiling mural. According to an interview given by Mrs. Catherine Smith, Chamberlain's last secretary, the crystal chandelier had 'dozens of tinklling, pyramid shaped glittering pieces, that shimmered in the bright sunlight'. A fitting place,therefore, to entertain the Chamberlains' many guests.

There's one item in this room that didn't belong to Chamberlain: a West Point-style uniform jacket. But it symbolizes a major event in his Bowdoin presidency: Not long after assuming office, Chamberlain learned that the federal government waas offering a military training program to the nation's colleges. They would provide the instructor and the arms. Chamberlain thought it was a great idea, especially as he remembered the woeful state of military unpreparedness at the start of the Civil War, and he didn't want to see that happen again, in case there was another war involving the United States.

For a more detailed description of what became known as "The Great Drill Rebellion" at Bowdoin, go to:



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