Ferguson Bedroom

The Room

This room belonged to the Edwards' middle daughter, Alice. In 1861, at age 17, Alice got engaged to Benjamin Ferguson, whose image is above the fireplace (and to the right). Benjamin then served as captain of Company B of the 114th Illinois Infantry, but was discharged in 1864. At that time, he and Alice got married in Edwards Place. Their wedding, held downstairs in the parlor, was said to be one of the grandest Springfield had ever seen. Because this is their married room, it is one of the only rooms we interpret later than 1857. This room, instead, is interpreted to the 1870s.

Rather than move out on their own, the newlywed couple decided to move in with Alice's parents in Edwards Place. They stayed for 19 years. Their decision to live in the home was a matter of personal preference rather than necessity. Benjamin was working his way up through the Springfield Marine Bank at the same time he operated a successful glass and china business. They had the means to have their own house, just not the desire. 

When the couple finally moved out, they moved to a house built right next door. It had everything a young Victorian could want - such as, Tiffany windows and elephant hide wallpaper in a room. When Alice moved out, her mother wrote to her sister Helen: "Alice is spending her first night in her new home. She is so homesick that she had a perfect fit of hysterics." Sadly, the mansion was torn down in 1997.

Benjamin dropped dead of a heart attack at his desk at the bank in 1903 at the age of 67. Alice lived until 1921. In 1913, she donated Edwards Place to the Springfield Art Association for use as its classroom and gallery space. Without her generosity, Edwards Place would likely not be standing today.

You'll notice the straw mats in the panoramic photo above. This flooring shows what families did in the summertime. They rolled up their carpet strips to clean them and wrap them in tobacco leaves to keep out bugs while they were stored for the summer. While the carpets were being stored, straw mats were laid down, which were supposed to keep the rooms cooler in the hottest days of summer.

Benjamin Ferguson

This giant teapot was an advertising piece that sat in the window of Benjamin's shop to draw attention. It was gifted by Alfred Meakin of England.

This photo is of Benjamin's store in downtown Springfield, at the corner of 6th and Monroe Streets.

Ferguson Mansion - the photo on the right also features Alice (left), Benjamin, and Helen (right).

Objects

The bed came from the Bunn family, who you know if you've ever had coffee from a Bunn-o-matic. They are an old Springfield family who were friends of the Edwards'. The quilt on top was made by Benjamin's sister, Sarah, who married into the Bunn family.

The suit on top of the bed belonged to Benjamin and we have reproduction undergarments that would have been worn by Alice around the time the Ferguson's stayed in this bedroom.

The domed art piece below is made from beads, wire, and hair. Making art from hair is something done as early as the 17th century, but in part due to Queen Victoria popularizing it and the cost of life of the Civil War, hair art and jewelry became common as a memorial to those who have
passed away.

Other Objects

A Renaissance Revival bureau with white marble tops and carved mirror, donated by Edwards granddaughter Eliza Condell.

Walnut desk with leather covered writing surface. Belonged to Samuel Dodge.

Wardrobe.

Matching dresser to bureau, donated by Thomas Condell.

Springfield Art Association logo. A palette with "SAA" designed into it with he words "visual art center" below.

700 North 4th St, Springfield IL 62702

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