Tag Archives: Fairlawn

A Visit with Pandora in the Parlor


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.


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.

Moose Antlers?

We are pleased to announce that we will be adding a new room to the Fairlawn guided tour this year. After several years of restoration, Martin Pattison’s office will be shown to visitors. In preparation for this addition we have stabilized the original painted ceiling and installed a new window that is period appropriate in construction. For many years we have been collecting artifacts for display in this room, including snowshoes and rock samples. We could use a few more. We are in need of very old items with a distinctly north woods feel. Specifically we could use a pair of moose antlers. We would prefer just the antlers and not the whole moose head. If you have antlers or other items you think might be a good addition, give us a call at 715-394-5712.

Martin Pattison's office in the early 1900s

Martin Pattison’s office in the early 1900s


Lake Superior Brownstone

In the United States, brownstone as a building material reached the height of its popularity between 1868 and 1898 as growing cities built grand buildings to show off their new prosperity. In addition, the disastrous Chicago fire of 1871 highlighted the importance of replacing wooden buildings with more substantial structures. This helped ensure the success of the “Romanesque Revival” style of Henry Richardson, a popular architectural movement that favored massive stone construction.

Brownstone quarry

A Brownstone Quarry in the 1880s

High-quality brownstone (a reddish-brown sandstone made up of rounded grains of quartz sand) is found around the south shore of Lake Superior. The first quarry in the region was established on Basswood Island (one of the Apostle Islands) in 1868 by the Bass Island Brownstone Company. Other brownstone quarries were located near Fond du Lac, Port Wing, Amnicon, Iron River, and Bayfield.

Fairlawn Mansion

Fairlawn Mansion

Here in Superior, Martin Pattison started building Fairlawn in 1889. He used blocks of Lake Superior brownstone for the foundation and porches of the mansion. The brownstone used at Fairlawn came from the quarry of the Arcadian Brownstone Company, located about 10 miles away along the Amnicon River. The stone was hauled to Fairlawn by rail.

During the twenty years of its existence (1886-1906) the Arcadian Brownstone Quarry shipped out more than a million cubic feet of stone to cities throughout the Midwest. The old  quarry is located in what is now Amnicon Falls State Park.  Two major factors brought an end to the brownstone quarrying industry in the Lake Superior region. The national economy crashed in 1893, discouraging construction and virtually eliminating demand for building stone. By the time the economy improved, architectural tastes had shifted. Dark brownstone was out of fashion; lighter stones and brickwork took its place. The brownstone era was over.

Garden Talks 2015

Our 2015 Garden Talks series is underway! There is still time to sign up for one or more of our remaining four talks: “Tree Care” with Louise Levy on Thursday February 26; “African Violets” with Geraldine Hughes on March 12; “Plants for Natural Health and Wellness” with Gigi Stafne and Judith Liebaert on April 2; and “Gardeners Like Beer Too!” with Nick Casper on April 9. Yummy tGreen Wisdom crocusreats this year are provided by the professionally trained pastry chefs of “The Sweet Guys”. Give us a call at 715-394-5712 to reserve your space!

Celebrate the Holidays at Fairlawn Mansion

We have lots of fun events planned at Fairlawn for the holidays! Please join us for any or all of these festive holiday events!

Small Business Saturday

On Saturday November 29, we’ll be participating in Small Business Saturday. Cookies and coffee will be available in the gift shop (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), and we’ll have 15% off on gift shop merchandise. We’ll also have a drawing for a copy of “Restoring the Splendor”, a beautiful full-color book that illustrates the restoration of Fairlawn Mansion. And…for every $10 you spend, you’ll have a chance to win a great prize package from the Superior-Douglas County Area Chamber. Check out the chamber’s web site for more information.

Thursday December 4 is our annual Holiday Sampler. Doors open at 5 p.m. Come and enjoy a selection of wines and craft beer (courtesy of Keyport Liquors) and a buffet of savory and sweet treats. Jazz guitarist Mark Anderson will provide the music while you browse our silent auction items and local artists’ work in the Third Floor Gallery. Advance tickets are $25 each or 4 for $90. Call 715-394-5712 to reserve your tickets today! Tickets can also be purchased at the door for $30.

Christmas at Fairlawn Mansion. Photo courtesy of Misty Pine Photography.

Tuesday December 9 we will host our Holiday Luncheon Musicale at Fairlawn Mansion from noon to 2 p.m.  The afternoon begins with festive music by Sandey Williams (piano) and Ruth Juntunen (violin); both are members of the Lake Superior Ragtime Society. Lunch by Red Swan Catering will be served at 12:30 p.m. The menu includes Mandarin orange chicken pasta salad, croissant, fruit kabobs, and fudge marble cake. After lunch, you can enjoy a complimentary tour of the mansion. Advance reservations are required; tickets are $26.00. Call 715-394-5712 for reservations.

Fairlawn Mansion In winter.  Photo courtesy of Misty Pine Photography

Fairlawn Mansion In winter.
Photo courtesy of Misty Pine Photography

Tuesday December 9 is also the date for the first of our Twinkling Tuesday evening open houses.  On December 9, 16, 23, and 30 you can take in the sparkle of the decorated Fairlawn Mansion after dark at your own pace. Doors open at 7 p.m. Sample hot cider and seasonal treats as you explore all three floors of this beautiful home. Hosts scattered throughout the house will share stories about the Pattison family and the history of the house.  Cost is $5.00 for adults; free for children 12 and under. Sponsored by National Bank of Commerce.