A Dream of Beauty: Christmas at Gene Stratton Porter’s Rome City Home

Gene Stratton Porter cardinal

“A dream of beauty” is how Indiana author Gene Stratton Porter referred to the Christmas of 1917. I enjoyed getting to experience a bit of what Gene did, by visiting the home she lived at during that time, in Rome City, Indiana.

The Gene Stratton Porter Society did a marvelous job decorating the house as it would have been in 1917, for this special December event.
Gene Stratton Porter Rome City

If the house’s decor doesn’t look over-the-top, it’s not. At least, it’s not for 2015. But I found the simple decor refreshing and beautiful. After all, we would have been involved in WWI in 1917.

Gene Stratton Porter Christmas
The simple wreaths and greenery hanging from lights were understated and a beautiful picture of the time.
Gene Stratton Porter Christmas
I even found a special guest in the parlor!
Gene Stratton Porter Christmas Santa
I found myself missing the greenhouse window/”room” from Gene’s earlier home, in Geneva. However, this house still has plenty of light. I loved this room — somehow I’m guessing that Gene probably had it full of plants when she lived here.
Gene Stratton Porter Christmas decor WWI Rome City
There was darkness, too. Here is Gene’s darkroom, where she developed photos. In her earlier home, we’d been shown a bathroom sink where she developed her photos. I was impressed by how accomplished she was: she was a celebrated author, photographer, painter, and also played various instruments. I wondered how much of this was just her native talent, and how much was due to the time she spent on her various pursuits vs. the time we spend on our electronics these days. One of the helpful tour guides said that she had read recently that Gene was one of the 20th century’s 100 most celebrated women. I’m not surprised!
Gene Stratton Porter darkroom
Her dining room was ready for Christmas, too. And everywhere, there were cardinals, since those were favorite birds of hers (I’m hoping to soon read “The Song of the Cardinal” by her, which I’ve read many good things about).
Gene Stratton Porter Christmas
A special treat during this event was that Gene’s second floor bedroom was open. I’d visited the house before, but never walked up the stairs. Are you ready? Here it is …
Gene Stratton Porter Rome City bedroom
(Note that neither the furnishings nor the nifty ’70s carpet are original, but still …)
Nearby, there were spots with crafts for kids …
Gene Stratton Porter Rome City
… and also “crafts” for adults; in this case, we smeared fat onto pinecones and then rolled them in sunflower seeds. I’m hoping mine will attract a few cardinals!
Gene Stratton Porter Rome City
It was just a short ride (in a wagon pulled by some strong horses) back to the parking lot. The whole visit was indeed a Dream of Beauty, and if you live anywhere nearby, check the Gene Stratton Porter website so you can visit next year.
Gene Stratton Porter Rome City
2015 has been a busy year for the Gene Stratton Porter Society, as it marked the start of one of their largest projects in 20 years — the restoration of 99 acres of land into wetlands and prairies. The wetlands are completed (you can view them from CR 850 and Pleasant Point), and they will seed native grasses and wildflowers in the spring. I was highly impressed with all the volunteers who put so much into making this a really interesting, worthwhile event.

2016 will be a big season as well, as it is Indiana’s Bicentennial. Keep watching …

Have you ever visited Gene’s Rome City house (or any of her other homes)? Have you read any of her books? Chime in — I always learn a lot from you commenters.

8 thoughts on “A Dream of Beauty: Christmas at Gene Stratton Porter’s Rome City Home

  1. Hmmmm … that’s a good question; I don’t know! I have to admit that I kind of missed the “private tour” we got at the Geneva house last summer.

  2. This looks like such an amazing place to visit. 100 most celebrated woman of 20th century? Wow! I hadn’t heard of her. I’d love to visit this place. Plus, crafting for adults? I am sold!

    Merry Christmas 🙂

  3. What a wonderful post! I read some of her books in my youth, checking them out from the Huntingburg Library. I wonder if Miss Gen, the librarian there encouraged me to read them, or if Mother did. I want to think I asked my sisters and they did not read her books. I know I read “Freckles” and “Girl of the Limberlost.” I wish I could have gone with you Sunday BUT I am so glad you got to make the trek, with a good friend.

  4. I’m glad you got to visit there, Susan. I’ve read “Girl of the Limberlost” and “Freckles” but not until a few years ago. Now I think I’d like to reread them. My favorite room would have been the sun room, or whatever they called it.

  5. I love seeing her house, furniture, and Christmas decorations! I would feel right at home among her tasteful things. She really was a renaissance woman, and a prime example for others.

  6. I would very much appreciate the opportunity to visit. there.

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