The dining room was used for all family meals, while the help ate in the kitchen.
The mantel is oak and its incised carvings show Eastlake influence. It also is machine made and was ordered from a catalogue.
Anecdote: After the house was purchased by the City and before restoration began, security was a great problem. A man was hired to come by and check on the house at odd hours, day and night. One day he arrived and found this mantel sitting by the front door in the entry. It had been carefully pried away from the wall, and evidentially the thief had gone off to find a truck. The mantel was replaced in the dining room and security measures increased.
The coal basket in the fireplace is on wheels and can be rolled out for cleaning.
This might be a good place to point out the very wide baseboards and moldings and the picture rail, as two paintings in this room are hung properly from it.
The most unique feature of the room is the original wallpaper still in use. It has an overall floral pattern of peonies, and the pattern conveys the same impression as the hall paper. It was no doubt much lighter to begin with, but years of coal fires and gas and kerosene lamps have darkened it. It has held up very well. The only thing that will ruin it is the oil from people’s hands that can't resist touching it.
The three-sided bay adds interest to the shape of the room.
Another combination gas and electric fixture hangs in this room.
By the door to the butler's pantry is another paper mach plate hand painted with pansies - a favorite Victorian craft item.
The tall, carved walnut cupboard is European in origin and was donated by Marcel's Antiques. They wanted the piece to stay in Fresno because the motifs were so appropriate--grapes and figs.
On the cupboard is a Staffordshire tea service dating back to the 1850's. It is very Victorian in feeling because of the shapes of the pieces, the embossed designs in the body of the clay, as well as the hand-painted flowers scattered about. Please note the waste bowl into which cool tea was emptied before the cup was refilled; the sugar bowl also seems very large and out of proportion to the rest of the pieces. But people in those days used lots of sugar and the sugar bowl was ample.
The ceramic plant stand and jardinière hold a parlor palm (neanthe bella), and on the floor beneath then is a ribbon fern. Ferns as a species are older than the dinosaurs, and this variety of fern is one of the very oldest ferns identified through fossil remains. Both the fern and palm do well in low light.
The dining table is oak with claw feet and two leaves. The four dining chairs feature pressed backs.
The mahogany sideboard C. 1360 may be English
On the table to the right of the fireplace is a pure silk velvet throw. It is beautiful and may be the only example of this fine quality fabric that we see. On it is placed pressed glass compote containing a dried arrangement flowers, and a Brittania Metal crumb set used to "crumb the table before the dessert course. Above the table hang two decorative hand-painted plates.
The mantelshelves contain assorted pieces old pressed glass, an octagonal hand-painted Japanese bowl, a cup and saucer hand painted in Japan with a very unusual owl design, and a set of four cups and saucers.
The dining table is set as for a family meal and the soup course is being served. The dinnerware is Ridgeway's semi-porcelain "Carleton pattern, made in the 1380's, and the pink and brown colors are perfect for the dining room color scheme. The water pitcher and glasses are pressed glass everyday ware. A glass spooner holds teaspoons. The castor set holds condiments--vinegar, oil, mustard, salt and pepper--and could be easily passed. At each place is an individual salt with tiny spoon. The round, covered butter dish would contain a round of butter with an embossed pattern on top made by a wooden butter stamp such as we have in the kitchen. The carving Set in a silver rack is ready for the meat course. The cut glass relish dish and pickle fork and the tablecloth and heavy damask napkins monogrammed "M" complete the table setting.
On the sideboard are a pair of flat back ceramic figures, a silver tea service and tray, a metal and glass compote holding plaster mints, and a cake on a pressed glass cake stand.
We hope you enjoyed your visit in our dining room, please follow our docent upstairs and into the Masters Bed Room.