“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.
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.
The simple wreaths and greenery hanging from lights were understated and a beautiful picture of the time.
I even found a special guest in the parlor!
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.
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!
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).
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 …
(Note that neither the furnishings nor the nifty ’70s carpet are original, but still …)
Nearby, there were spots with crafts for kids …
… 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!
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.
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.