Pleasant View study, 1903. (P06313) © CSBD.

 

Mary Baker Eddy moved to Pleasant View in Concord, New Hampshire, in June 1892, with plans to lead a quieter, less busy life. But this was not to be—she ended up managing the growing church and publishing organizations from her home, as well as writing and editing her books as she had first intended. She spent much of her time in her study.

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Mary Baker Eddy seated at her desk at Pleasant View, early 1900s. (P00055). © CSBD.

A room on the second floor was called the Study, and here Mrs. Eddy practically lived. In this she devoted herself to work, and while there, seldom spent an idle moment….1

Eddy’s desk is oak with brass plate pulls for the drawers; the maker is unknown. The desk is simple in form, with the angular lines of the Arts and Crafts style. It is quite small, measuring just 42 inches by 27 inches. Other furniture of the home is also in this simple style.The desk Eddy used in her Pleasant View study is in the Arts and Crafts style, also known as American Craftsman. Arts and Crafts was a movement started in England, and popular there from about 1860 to 1910. This movement spread across Europe and then to the United States, where it gained popularity in the late nineteenth century. The style was discussed widely in newspapers and magazine articles. The first Arts and Crafts society in America was organized in Boston in 1897, by a group of influential architects, designers, and educators.

Eddy's Arts and Crafts style desk. (0.2008).

Eddy’s Arts and Crafts style desk. (0.2008).

Her desk, which stood right by her chair and at her left hand, was a somewhat unique affair – made to order I believe. It was small, flat-topped, and had the customary paraphernalia; a square desk-pad a very few books, paper weights, paper cutters, and so forth….2

Eddy’s numerous responsibilities rarely gave her enough time to organize her workspace. Visitors to Pleasant View made comments about her study and its appearance. Reporter William E. Curtis, for example, wrote of her “sitting beside a desk covered with correspondence and books” in a 1907 interview.3 Eddy was well aware of the problem; she spoke of it in letters and even had a notice put in The Christian Science Journal:

I hereby state publicly and positively, that until I advertise through these pages, or send special requests to individuals to the contrary of this statement, I shall not receive a call from any one, nor read letters, MSS. etc., which I have not myself first solicited. I advertise this, after waiting over two years for sufficient time of my own to arrange my writing desk, and while having on hand packages of sermons, with request that I examine them, other people’s correspondence to read, heaps of MSS. sent for approval, pyramids of letters requiring immediate answers….4

Mary Baker Eddy seated at her desk at Pleasant View, early 1900s. (P00055) © CSBD.

Mary Baker Eddy seated at her desk at Pleasant View, early 1900s. (P00055) © CSBD.

During her 16 years living at Pleasant View, Eddy was very busy writing and editing, meeting with her many visitors, engaged with the details of running a household and leading a religious movement. Her plans to enjoy a more retired life simply did not happen. In fact, she later moved to Chestnut Hill, MA, to be closer to Boston and her Church. Her study and desk remained her central workspace. When she moved to Chestnut Hill, her study and desk were set up in a manner similar to Pleasant View.

Eddy’s study, as replicated in the Library exhibit “Impressions on Paper.”

Eddy’s study, as replicated in the Library exhibit “Impressions on Paper.”

The Library’s 2012 temporary exhibit, “Impressions on Paper,” put objects from Mary Baker Eddy’s Pleasant View study on display. The desk and chair were set with other pieces including a bookcase, vases, desktop items, books, paintings, and sculpture.

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  1. Rem. Anna B. White Baker Reminiscence.
  2. Rem. George Kinter.
  3. “Mrs. Eddy A Marvel In Mental Activity,” Chicago Record-Herald, July 19, 1907.
  4. Mary Baker Eddy, “Take Notice,” The Christian Science Journal, June 1894,  http://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/mwhy4vnolc?s=t.