In the mid-1760s, Abraham Choate had this 10-room house built in Ipswich, Massachusetts, for his wife, Sarah, and their growing family. The Choates were wealthier than most colonists, but not among the most fashionable or powerful. The house announced the family's prosperity.
Over the years, Abraham established himself as a miller and maritime merchant. The Choates also benefited from a growing economy that brought fabrics, china, and other goods that were once exotic and expensive. But running a well-to-do household still demanded an enormous amount of work from Sarah, her eight children, and a servant or two.
Like the house itself, the Choates' paneled, plastered, and wallpapered parlor set them apart from ordinary people. Its elegant decoration and furnishings were meant to impress visitors with the Choates' wealth and social standing and to provide a backdrop for genteel activities such as tea-drinking.