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Formal Parlor II

The Room

The parlors were used only for company. They were furnished with the best and most expensive wallpaper, carpeting, and furniture. Having a double parlor was a status symbol in mid-19th century America; this is a lot of real estate to furnish and devote only to entertaining, especially in a town like Springfield. Analysis of surface treatments indicates that these rooms were always decorated the same, indicating that they were used as a double parlor. A set of folding doors used to separate the two rooms, but those have long since disappeared and the doorway expanded.

This was one of the social centers of mid-19th century Springfield, where all the prominent people of the day, such as Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, John Stuart, Stephen Logan, and David Davis gathered. Similar to today, the high social season was when the state legislature was in session. Politicians would flock to Springfield, and prominent families with space to entertain would take turns hosting parties - often every night of the week, sometimes two or three per night. These were large affairs, with hundreds of people being invited and people stuffed in shoulder to shoulder. Guests would arrive around 8 PM and stay until past midnight. Abraham Lincoln was frequently a guest at these parties, and the Edwards' were guests at the Lincolns' parties. Stories say that Lincoln would often be found in one corner of the room, entertaining the men with his stories and talk of politics, while the women would be on the other side, tapping their feet and wanting their dates returned to them.


The portrait above the fireplace is of Benjamin's cousin Ann Laura Reed and her two oldest children. It was painted in the late 1830s. Ann Laura belonged to the southern wing of the family; her family fled Montgomery, Alabama when it was burned by the Yankees.

The portraits flanking the pocket doors are of Benjamin Edwards' grandparents, Benjamin and Margaret Beal Edwards, done in the 18-teens.

The mirror dates to the 1860s and came out of another Springfield house, originally the Christopher C. Brown home. It was installed in 1930 when the Brown home was torn down and is rumored to weigh in the neighborhood of 500 pounds. It took 12 movers and 2 carpenters to move it into position. It is anchored to the wall by bolts.

In the southwest corner of the room is a display easel, designed to display a canvas on its projecting lip and store other canvases in its sides. It was commissioned by Jennie B. Coleman, daughter of Stephen T. Logan (Lincoln's second law partner).

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