Thursday, September 24, 2009

The "Best Room"

How traditions have changed about receiving company. According to Under the Gables:
Indeed, in southern central Pennsylvania, it is common to see older homes with two front doors, a tradition among the German families of the area, although not one brought from their original homeland. One door leads to the kitchen and "family room"--where the family conducts its business. The other door leads to the parlor--or best room--which is reserved for guests. This offers two ways of honoring those who are not members of the immediate family: the guest is honored, as in The Country of Pointed Firs, by being ushered into the "best room" but the closeness of the friendship may be honored by bringing the guest eventually into the kitchen and family area.
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6 comments:

Julygirl said...

When designing a dream home in my mind, I looked at the traditional home and felt the one room which was saved for special guests was wasted space. Now I understand the idea of a space for entertaining special guests in a formal way.

Gareth Russell said...

What a lovely tradition. In certain parts of Ulster, it's still kept up - and even if the two doors are lacking, the 'best room' idea is still present in many homes.

elena maria vidal said...

Gareth, are you from Ulster? I had no idea!

Margaret said...

I would love to have a parlor. In addition to being a clean, clutter-free place always ready to receive company, it could function as a family prayer/home altar area, a formal family portrait setting and a safe place to display family heirlooms. A quiet, set apart room for special events or devotions sounds lovely!

Gareth Russell said...

I am indeed. Of old Ascendancy stock - my family came to Ireland as Norman knights in the reign of King Henry II in the battalion led by John de Courcy. So, it's been a while! Ha ha. I think on my facebook albums, "Spring, Mayday and home 21st" and "Summer swimming" you can see it most clearly. (I should point out that in the latter I don't usually go clambering in a suit, but I'd been at the Secretary of State's garden party just before, so turning up casually to that was a no-no!) It's a lovely part of the world and the education system in Northern Ireland is really fantastic.

elena maria vidal said...

Sounds intriguing and lovely. My ancestors are from the south of Ireland, except for the O'Connors who migrated from Roscommon in the 13th century.