Susan’s Carriage

August 24, 2013 § 1 Comment

photo by Justin Blanford

Photo by Justin Blanford

I led my first “Living the Wright Way” public tour last Saturday.  The in-depth visit to the Dana-Thomas House ended on a dramatic note thanks to site manager Justin Blanford and staff interpreter Chuck Hargan (pictured) who pulled Susan’s carriage from its storage space into the parking lot so our guests could inspect it closely.

As far as we know, Susan owned three carriages.  One was a small vehicle for hauling heavy objects, and another was an elegant reproduction of the landau-style carriage used by Teddy Roosevelt.  The former was destroyed in a fire, and the fate of the latter is unknown.  The well-restored carriage currently on the site was Susan’s “everyday” vehicle. The four-wheeled Studebaker brougham boasts tufted leather upholstery, a satin ceiling, and glass panel windows.  Only displayed on special occasions, the carriage has resided in the on-site garage since the Dana Thomas House Foundation (DTHF) purchased it and brought it home in 1986.

The carriage had a long journey.  State Senator Carl Priehs of Pana, Illinois, bought it at the six day auction of Susan’s possessions in 1943.  He used it for parades and special events in Pana until 1965 when he sold it to carriage museum owner Joe Wright who later sold it to carriage restorer Alvin Plank of Arcola, Illinois.  Robert Prutsman became the next owner in 1975, and he sold it to the DTHF.

As long as the weather cooperates, we plan to exhibit Susan’s carriage at the end of each of the “Living the Wright Way” tours.  Currently the tours are scheduled at 10:15 on August 31 and September 14 and 28.  There is a $20 suggested donation.  Reservations can be made at 217-782-6776.

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