At the turn of the 20th century, the central staircase served a much larger purpose for homeowners than simply transporting residents between two different floors of the property. It helped establish the look of the main foyer or entryway, which itself served several different functions. While today the entry hallway is considered more of a coat room than a gathering space, new homes in the early 1900s utilized this room in a variety of ways.
Since "Keeping up with the Jones's" was a big thing for many Americans as the 1800s came to a close, people who could only afford modestly sized homes still wanted to host lavish affairs to maintain their status. A popular way to do this was make an expansive entryway with a grand staircase, even if that meant sacrificing another room in the house to fit it all in.
These main foyers would essentially become the home's function hall, since the entryway took up space that actually that would have been used for separate rooms within the structure. The main hallway would be a reception area, a parlor or lounge as well as the home's dining room.
Since guests might spend the entirety of their time at a certain house in the main atrium, this would end up being one of the most lavishly appointed rooms in the building. The staircase would do the heavy lifting when it came to aesthetics by weaving along the walls of the room in an eye-catching manner that would show off an impressive balustrade. The Edwardian school of architecture was popular at the time, which dictated bulbous and thick balusters and newels made from out of rich, dark woods. The handrail itself would also be heavy, adding weight to the look, resulting in a dignified feel throughout the foyer.
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