From western forts to Victorian mansions and pivotal battlegrounds, the Texas Historical Commission's 20 state historic sites exemplify a breadth of Texas history. Come explore the real stories at the real places.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Summer Bedroom

By Sue Miller, site manager of Varner-Hogg Plantation

Have you ever wondered how South Texas residents stayed cool in the 1800s during the long, hot Texas summers? Everything from the architecture of houses to summertime bedroom fabrics played a part in easing the oppressive heat. Often, in the heat of summer, occupants would even move their mattresses to outside balconies to sleep!

At Varner-Hogg Plantation State Historic Site, visitors can learn more about these early techniques in the Summer Bedroom, a newly interpreted room at the plantation house.

The centerpiece of the room is the bed, made by local craftsman and store owner Henry Jansen during the mid 1800s. Mosquito netting surrounds it to keep insects from bothering the occupant during the summer months.

Keeping cool also meant that winter’s heavy rugs, carpets, and draperies made way for sheer panels on windows, and white muslin sheets and coverlets replaced heavy quilts and blankets on beds. Cotton slipcovers on upholstered furniture led to the light, white, cool look of the room.

Summer clothing took the same path. Lightweight cotton and muslin skirts and camisoles replaced heavy brocades and wools. Women and children wore flowing pieces made of fabric that could breathe. Large hats for dress or wide-brimmed bonnets for farm life shielded faces and eyes from the sun.

Come view the Summer Bedroom for yourself and peer in on the life of this southern Texas family. Varner-Hogg Plantation is located approximately 60 miles south of Houston and is part of the Texas Independence Trail Region.

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