Party Time at Rheuna Lawrence’s House
December 29, 2012 § Leave a comment
The week between Christmas and New Year’s was the high point of the social season in 19th century Springfield. Open house receptions at the homes of the socially prominent were held the entire week culminating with a reception at the governor’s mansion on New Year’s Day. In 1893, Susan was living in debt in Chicago with her first husband Edwin Dana (see Chapter 2 of Susan Lawrence: The Enigma in the Wright House). Yet she came to Springfield to be co-hostess with her mother during the last week of the year. The following account of that reception from the December 30, 1893, issue of The Illinois State Journal not only gives us a glimpse of the Springfield 19th century social scene but also provides a picture of the elegance of the Italianate house built by Rheuna (Susan’s father) and “remodeled” by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Perhaps the largest and most notable afternoon reception of the season was that given by Mrs. R.D. Lawrence, assisted by her daughter, Mrs. Edwin W. Dana. The receiving hours, from 2 to 4 and from 4 to 6, were such that the rooms were at no time overcrowded, despite the fact that a very large number called during the afternoon.
The handsomely adorned rooms and the costumes, rich in texture and color, made a very effective picture. The floral setting was elaborate and in excellent taste. The south dining room was ornate with red shadings offset with graceful festoons of evergreen and a large Christmas bell of immortelles pendent from the chandelier. The north dining room was done in green, while holly in abundance enforced the Christmas thought. American Beauty roses, lent their fragrance and beauty throughout the house. Music by an orchestra made a happy complement to the other appointments.
Mrs. Lawrence was attired in pearl gray silk and brocade, point lace; diamond ornaments. Mrs. Dana was in white satin with red velvet relief; pearls.