A short vignette from a letter by Martha Kilbourne to Helen, dated 1873. Martha, or Mattie, was one of Helen’s close friends, she was 16 when she wrote this letter.
“Lizzie is in Great Barrington and will stay there until school commences. It is so very warm she does not dare to go down to Conn. She is boarding in a splendid old farm house. It has two very large rooms on the first floor, her room is over 20 feet square, is furnished in the modern style and very richly. Her parlor is richly furnished it has pale green with rose buds embroidered on it (note: she means the furniture in the room, not the room!). It has two sofas, one sleepy hollow chair, four easy chairs, a large table, inlaid cabinet, piano, and a beautiful case for music. She has a balcony running by both rooms.”
It is clear from the description, since the parlor is unlikely to have been much larger than Lizzie’s other room, that excessive amounts of furniture are typical in upper middle class houses of this time period. The sheer number of chairs! (the original transcription, I should add, suggests there are another 11 chairs…but I have my doubts about the transcription)* A piano would almost be a required item for Lizzie, or any girl in that class, during the summer in order to keep up with her lessons.
Esperanza’s excess of furniture was clearly not a unique situation…

* the eleven is the only number that is typed as a number and not as a word, and there are several other longer numbers in the letter which are typed as words. This discrepancy rings alarm bells.