Tag Archives: Fairlawn Mansion

Historic Wedding at Fairlawn Mansion

Imagine Fairlawn Mansion’s decorated interior as two couples were married in the parlor on an early June day in 1896. Two of Martin Pattison’s nieces, Mary Ann Gowling and Eva Irene Thayer, married men from Superior – Ralph Pope and Frank Hamen. “Fairlawn never looked so beautiful as when its spacious apartments were decked with flowers and foliage” wrote a reporter for the June 4th edition of the Superior Telegram. “The parlor is decorated with pink and white roses and smilax [leafy vines] in festoons over the mantle, the music room with white and yellow flowers while the reception room and library beyond present a most effective picture with American beauties and other beautiful flowers amidst the green foliage of potted plants.” Weddings like this made the news during the Pattisons’ day, and the article in the newspaper was filled with information that locals wanted to read.

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An early photo of Fairlawn’s family parlor.

About 50 guests were invited to the wedding ceremony – mostly close friends and family. The details of the double wedding included music and decoration, refreshments and dinner. “The brides will be given away by their uncle, Mayor Pattison, and they will look beautiful in their gowns of Gloria silk. Miss Gowling’s dress is trimmed with pearl ornaments and she will carry a handkerchief of lace, one hundred and fifty years old.” At the end of the ceremony, guests were sent up to the ballroom on the third floor of the mansion, where they ate a wonderful supper. The ballroom tables were decorated with pink candles and apple blossoms.

The menu included croquettes, salads, olives, almonds, meats and chips, with ice cream and strawberries to top off the meal. Once the wedding cake was cut by the brides, the billiards room was opened up to allow the wedding guests to admire wedding gifts that included “silver, cut glass, rare china, pictures, beautiful embroidery, linen” and more. The evening reception included refreshments for nearly 400 well-wishers in the dining room under a canopy of climbing asparagus, with carnations decorating the table. Once guests chose coffee, chocolates, cake or ices, they could wander through the conservatory, greenhouse, lawns, and outdoor gardens.

Fairlawn, with its beautiful interior and cheerful gardens, lends itself perfectly as a backdrop for weddings. Whether a small wedding in the parlor or a larger gathering near the landing, many couples have celebrated their marriage at Fairlawn.

Planning a wedding? Call our Events Coordinator at 715-394-5712 or email events@superiorpublicmuseums.org to schedule a private tour.

 

Tea Parties in the Parlor

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Photo courtesy of Lucas Jensen

Parlor games were entertaining activities for both children and adults during the age of the Victorians. Whether Blind Man’s Bluff, Balderdash, or anything in between, games in the parlor were something to look forward to when visiting with siblings, cousins or friends.

Afternoon tea, in contrast, was often a quieter time for polite conversation and good manners. The snacks were sweet and the sugar cubes were hopefully plentiful. Does this sound like a relaxing way to spend an afternoon?

Fairlawn Mansion offers tea parties that can be part of a birthday get-together, a club meeting, or just about any occasion. For younger party-goers, there is a two-hour party that includes dressing up in hats, feather boas and gloves, ending with a fashion show in the grand hall. The kids also enjoy parlor games, making tussie-mussies (flower bouquets), and a tea party with pink lemonade and sweet frosting-covered wafers. These tea parties start at $120 for a group of eight little party-goers.

For the still young at heart but slightly older crowd, catered luncheons and a private tour of the mansion are often the interest. These parties work well as bridal showers, baby showers, or other celebrations, but you won’t need any excuse to enjoy Fairlawn’s beautiful interior as you spend time with loved ones and friends! These parties, which include a tasty catered meal for a minimum of 10 people, start at $25 per person. If a tea party sounds like a delightful event for your next occasion, give us a call to chat about options for designing a party at Fairlawn that can easily include your personal touch.

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Photo courtesy of Lucas Jensen

Want Fairlawn to be the setting for your next party?
Call our Museums Administrator at 715-394-5712 for more information.

A Visit with Pandora in the Parlor

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Detail of Pandora.

If you have been to Fairlawn Mansion, you have likely seen the marble statue that resides in the alcove in Grace’s parlor. The bright white sculpture sits on a brown pedestal that makes the figure prominent against the curtained windows. Draped in a soft-looking shroud made of marble, she leans slightly forward with her hair gathered just above her neck. Pandora stands gazing at her little decorative jar, seemingly contemplating whether she should open it or not. As the story goes, Pandora chooses to open the mysterious box, and, in so doing, unleashes all the evils of the world. In her haste to close the box after she realizes what is happening, she shuts the lid in time to trap one last thing: hope.

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An early photo of Pandora.

Martin and Grace Pattison brought the statue of Pandora home after one of their trips overseas. The figurine was created by Chauncey B. Ives in Italy around the year 1864. Ives was an American artist who moved to Florence, Italy in the 1840s. Known for his sculpting of figures, Ives was popular for many years because of his classical depictions of women such as Frances M. Pearce, Sans Souci, and Undine Receiving Her Soul. When the family moved out in 1920, they took the statue with them. She was donated back to Fairlawn when it opened as the Douglas County Historical Society in 1965.

In 1999, Pandora was sent to the Twin Cities for conservation – cleaning of the whole statue, and repair of Pandora’s broken marble fingers, happened at that time. After the conservation project was finished, the statue was shipped back to Superior and set up in the parlor once again. During the Christmas season, Pandora seems to glow in the light of the decorated trees as she stares at the jar in her hand. Be sure to visit Fairlawn during December to see Pandora standing where she has for most of the past century.

Visit Your Local Museums

The head of the lakes, along with most of the rest of the country, is experiencing one of the most weather intense winters we’ve seen in a long time.

In the Twin Ports of Superior, Wisconsin and Duluth, Minnesota we’ve set a record for the number of days with below zero temperatures. Some of them have been as much as 30-below.

Let’s not forget the snow. We’ve got a pretty good start to setting a record snowfall for the year as well.

Such extreme weather can get old with the month of March approaching, causing cabin fever to set in with a vengeance.  What to do?  Why not visit a local museum or two?

I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel all my life. I’ve seen most of the U.S., from rural farm communities, to small towns and villages, to large cities. One thing I’ve noted, is that for a region the size of the Twin Ports, we have a lot of museums by comparison.

Most of our local, historical sites and museums operate as non-profits. That means the $$ you spend for admission are an important contribution to keeping these historical sites operational and open to the public.

So shake your cabin fever and do a good deed at the same time. Visit one of these local museums to hear the fascinating history of our area.

And remember . . . Your History Becomes You!

In Superior, WI

  • Fairlawn Mansion ~ A Victorian House Museum
    The 42 room Queen Anne Victorian, featuring a four-story turret complete with widow’s watch overlooking the bay, is a unique and well recognized landmark in the City of Superior.
  • Douglas County Historical Society
    To collect, preserve, interpret and exhibit artifacts, archival materials and photographs of the cultural, social and political history of the people and communities of Douglas County, Wisconsin.
  • The Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center
    To honor the memory of Major Bong and all the veterans of WWII and later conflicts whose sacrifices maintain our Freedoms. The Center is an educational resource that collects and preserves the tangible legacy of these veterans and their home front supporters.

In Duluth, MN

  • Glensheen Estate
    Glensheen, a historic estate on the shores of Lake Superior, offers a slice of turn-of-the-last-century opulence. Its 1908 collection is intact, completely immersing you in the life of one of Minnesota’s most influential families.
  • Duluth Depot
    Including the *St. Louis County Historical Society, *Lake Superior Railroad Museum,  *Duluth Art Institute and *Veterans Memorial Hall.
  • Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum
    Located in a former Christian Scientist Church building built in 1912, the structure is a beautiful building with a large main floor exhibit hall.

Check individual websites for hours of operation, admission and additional information on exhibits, collections and tours.

The Season of Weddings

Tying the knot during warmer summer months has long been a tradition, so what better time to talk about weddings at Fairlawn Mansion. Beginning with the Pattison family in residence, weddings have been celebrated in the mansion and on the grounds with both lavish extremes and simple, quiet elegance.

No less than four brides descended the grand staircase of Fairlawn when it was home to Martin, Grace and their children, beginning with Martin and Grace’s  nieces, Eva Irene Thayer and Mary Ann Growling on the occasion of their double nuptials, June 3, 1896.

Two later weddings followed in rapid succession when another niece, Grace Margaret Frink was wed September 7, 1902 and daughter Ethyl Mary exchanged vows in October of the same year.

Such weddings were considered high social occasions in the town of Superior, often times with numerous fetes being held for days before the big event, all described in great detail by local news reporters.

One historical account from our archives reported on a wedding breakfast at the mansion, “The breakfast room was most handsomely decorated and was a marvel of exquisite taste and skill.”

For the wedding of Grace Frink, another archived report describes the lavish decorations throughout the mansion. “The spacious dining room was in pink with the mantle banked in sweet peas and ferns, while pink roses graced the table. The hall, where the wedding ceremony was performed had been transformed into a bower of beauty. The mantle was banked with sweat pea and ferns, while festoons of ferns hung from the ceilings, and were caught in the center by a large ball of white asters. The stairway was draped with sweat pea and Elysium.”

Modern Fairlawn couples prize the mansion for its elegant décor and intimate setting to host a wedding that transcends the ordinary. Whether they chose to fill the mansion with floral arrangements as did Fairlawn brides of the past, or opt to go sans decoration, their wedding ceremony is a beautiful sight to behold.

For more information on rental of Fairlawn Mansion for weddings and other special occasion events, email our Events Coordinator or phone 715-394-5712 during business hours.