Exhibitions: Decorative Arts: Period Rooms

Moorish Smoking Room, The Worsham-Rockefeller House

The John D. Rockefeller House was a brownstone built between 1864 and 1865 at 4 West 54th Street in New York City. Mr. Rockefeller purchased the house in 1884 from Arabella Worsham, who had recently enlarged and redecorated it. The house’s Moorish Smoking Room represents a new trend in American design in terms of both style and execution. Inspired by Asian and Near Eastern designs popular at the time, its style was considered appropriate for the function of the room—a retreat for gentlemen to use for smoking, a slightly exotic activity. The design is the work of a professional. The interior design profession had been born in the mid-1870s, when, for the first time, owners of houses placed the design of entire rooms in someone else’s hands. As a result, design became less focused on individual furnishings than on the overall appearance of the room.