When you go to the second floor in the First White House of the Confederacy, the first room on the right is one we call “Mrs. Davis’ New York bedroom.” It is so named because much of the furniture in it came from the Majestic hotel in which Varina was living when she passed away and, fortunately, Mrs. Davis’ daughter Margaret instructed the hotel that it be sent to us.
There are a number of important items in this room, and one of these is a lovely portrait photograph, circa 1895, showing Mrs. Margaret Davis Hayes and Miss Winnie Davis seated at a tea table. Margaret was the oldest child of President and Mrs. Davis, and Winnie, the youngest. In between Margaret and Winnie four sons were born to the Davises, but sadly, none survived to adulthood.
What makes the photo of Margaret and Winnie so special to us is because in our “New York bedroom” we have a set of a wicker table with two companion chairs that were used by Mrs. Davis and Winnie for taking tea in the afternoons in their hotel room.
These are not the same table and chairs that are in the photograph, but in our minds eye we can almost see the scene of Mother Varina and Daughter Winnie taking tea on Varina’s moss rose china, whenever we look at the attractive portrait photograph of Margaret and Winnie together doing just that.
It reminds me of all the wonderful treasurers that the First White House holds, and how a visit to the First White House, or to any House museum, brings these wonderful historical people into the present time in a way that transcends time and place. If you haven’t visited us lately, please do plan a trip to see us soon.