The 1884 Studio from Main Street


Victorian Christmas at the Moran Studio / 2020

East Hampton Historical Society

Richard Barons, Curator 


The Italianate double doors that greet visitors to The Studio, represent one of the more quirky features of this artist’s designed structure.  His daughter Ruth, jotted down some memories of her life with her father, some years after his death.  She remembered her parents combing their New York Chelsea neighborhood for architectural elements left as debris from the area’s massive redevelopment after the Civil War.  They repurposed windows, fireplace mantels, newel posts and even doors.  These beautifully carved circa 1855 Victorian doors, once graced a Candy & Cigar shop on lower Broadway.

The Studio room as seen from the stair landing, was designed as a painter’s workspace.  Since it was the largest room in the Village then (besides barns and churches), it often functioned as a room for parties and dances.  The unfinished  paintings were moved upstairs, the easels were folded-up and the few pieces of furniture were pushed to walls to the accommodate guests.  The balcony became the bandstand as the dancers whirled below them.  It is also just the right size for  a 14’ Christmas tree.

We know that the tradition of hanging stockings from door knobs and fireplace mantels was done in East Hampton from the 1850s onward.  Out here the day was called Santa Day. Mostly children hung old stockings that were often Dad’s hand-knitted heavy wool work socks .  At the Moran house the stockings were stuffed with fruits and candies.

The Studio’s mantel dates from about 1790, and is a superb example of high-style neoclassical design, typically found in the front parlor of a New York Federal style townhouse.  Just another astute item collected by the Morans for their summer studio and cottage.

The gifts and toys are all part of the East Hampton Historical Society’s collections.  Here we see two rare un-glazed porcelain (called Parian by the Victorians) headed dolls with fancy period hairstyles.  A choice gift for the late 1890s, was the boxed mahjong set. The game was very popular in China in the mid-19th century and was played in Queen Victoria’s court. By the 1920’s Abercrombie & Fitch sold over 12,000 sets.

With the invention of chromolithography (mechanical printing in multicolor) children’s books became exciting with graphic experimentation.  These books date from the 1890s.

Indoor bowling sets were called skittles. Some sets were quite plane, but others were very imaginative with the pins designed like penguins stored in a iceberg box or pirates in a wheeled sailing ship.

Sort of amazing that this printed bag of colored glass “Marble Champ” marbles has survived with every original marble inside.

Since Mary Nimmo Moran was born in Strathaven, Scotland, plaid seems just right for wrapping paper.

The Studio seems to have always had a center table.  At Christmastime we have assumed the Morans (who mostly celebrated the holiday at home in New York City) might have a bottle of fine champagne, some Prince Albert tobbaco (not fine) and a very fine carved burl pipe.

The huge mahogany Duncan Phyfe sideboard was likely picked-up in a second hand shop by Mr. & Mrs. Moran. This holiday season it is positively groaning under the weight of all the china and Victorian decorations that suggest a wealthy middle class lifestyle.

The Family dining room was sheltered under the balcony at the south wall of The Studio,  It could be closed-off by the Turkish rugs that could curtain it off.  When it was party time the room was opened-up with assorted decanter of spirits and an oriental-inspired patterned punchbowl.

The Studio is all set for guests.

A room designed for flower arranging.


Victorian Christmas at the Moran Studio / 2020

Richard Barons, Curator 

Captions courtesy of Richard Barons.


Portfolio Retrospective w/ Links

Victorian Christmas at the Moran Studio / 2019 

Victorian Christmas at the Moran Studio / 2018


Facing Town Pond was one of the best features of The Studio.  A few years before the Morans bought their Main Street Lot and moved into their new studio and summer cottage in 1884, a summer colonist brought a pair of swans to the Village to decorate the pond.  Generations of their offspring still bring-up their cygnets here every summer.  The swan on the porch bench is a modern carved wooden decoy.

View of Town Pond from the front yard. December 3, 2020. 


—————— FLASHBACK ——————  


  Moran Studio, December 15, 2015  

———— Visit ————

Moran Studio / The Art of Restoration 2012 – 2018

Moran Studio / The Studio Restoration 2012 – 2018



Photographs © Jeff Heatley.