Refreshment in the Ladies’ Drawing Room

by Emily Price

Despite its modest size, The Ladies’ Drawing Room is a significant part of the Hower House. Linda Bussey, Director of The University of Akron’s Hower House, highlighted the role women played in the history of Akron. As a part of the Menus and Manuscripts [Un]class, I learned how this small space that likely featured teas and little treats could have given women a safe place to be themselves.

Bussey stated that women ran the homes much like the men ran businesses; women managed the staff and children and would also organize dinners that, according to Bussey, worked to cement social and business relationships. Ultimately, women in Akron used their homes to reflect their husband.

The Ladies’ Drawing Room provided a safe place for women to refresh their makeup and hair, away from the busy goings-on of the dining next door. The room is adjacent and easily accessible from the Ballroom where feasts and other social gatherings were held in the Hower House. Compared to the variety of cool, green colors in Reception Room on the third floor of the house, the Ladies’ Drawing room is a flush of reds and pinks. There are several floral designs and details in the wallpaper, furniture, and artifacts in the room.

Gold leaf detail on a table in the Ladies’ Drawing Room.
An ornate picture frame against the Ladies’ Drawing Room’s ornate wallpaper.

Bussey also suggested that the Ladies’ Drawing Room was a place to get away from the men who smoked as a past time. This space would provide a way the women could cool down and find a place with good ventilation.

Bussey also pointed out that the community women had were very important during that time. They could not necessarily go to the men in their lives for advice or guidance. So, they developed strong ties with other women. I’d imagine that tea in the Ladies’ Drawing Room provided a great way for women to socialize and come to cultivate those connections.

The delicacy and refinery are evident in the mahogany woodwork and engravings on the brushes and hand mirror. The crimson tassels decorating the cushions and windows add to the warmth and verve of the overall atmosphere of the room. 

Overall, according to Bussey, the Ladies’ Drawing Room served the women in early Akron. In general, the room sparks the discussion about how the women played a crucial part of the history of Akron, maintaining social connections and managing their families.

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