A Historical Hangup

January 19, 2014 § 1 Comment

The Lawrence/Dana-Thomas House offers history lessons in the most unexpected places.  For example, the windowless cavernous coat room on the lowest level of the house holds a fascinating illustration of a historic truism.

One hundred thirty six coat hooks are hidden behind oak boards near the ceiling of the room.  Conceivably, this is where the coats of 272 guests could be hung during one of Susan’s famous parties.  By contrast, when we have parties in the house today, racks holding an infinite number of coat hangers are wheeled into the coat room.  This would have been impossible in Susan’s day because the coat hanger as we know it did not exist when Frank Lloyd Wright designed the house in 1902.

Albert J. Parkhouse is generally credited with inventing the wire coat hanger in 1903. He was an employee of Timberlake Wire and Novelty Company in Jackson, Michigan, and John B. Timberlake, the owner of the company, applied for and received the patent for the hanger in 1904. Others were inventing new ways to hang clothes at the same time, and one source says that between 1900 and 1906, over 189 different patents were granted on different versions of “garment-hangers” worldwide. Hooks became out-of-date.

The irony is that Frank Lloyd Wright strove to install in the Lawrence House the most modern elements available in 1902 (for example, indoor plumbing, electricity, a duck pin alley).  Unfortunately, he missed the coat hanger concept by just a few years.  As anyone who has bought a new phone six months before the  next model is released can tell you, there’s always something new on the horizon.

Old Meets New
Old Meets New

Tagged: , , , , , ,

§ One Response to A Historical Hangup

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading A Historical Hangup at Susan and Me: Two Women in a Wright House.

meta

%d bloggers like this: