Sarah Orne Jewett House

Back Stairs

A wooden stairwell, painted a light yellow.

Back stairs were commonplace in eighteenth-century built houses. Their purpose was to allow household servants to execute their work while keeping them out of sight as much as possible. Back stairs in these houses are usually narrow and dimly lit.

This set of stairs leads from the attic down directly to a landing between Sarah’s room and the guest room on the second floor and down to the breakfast room, which is located next to the kitchen, on the first floor.

After an accident in 1902, Sarah’s health declined, and she was occasionally bedridden. This was particularly so in the spring of 1909, during her final few months. Domestic staff Katy and Mary Galvin may have used these stairs to bring her food, medicine, other necessities during this time.