You won’t be seeing ghosts at the Dana-Thomas House State Historic Site starting Saturday, March 10, but you will come face-to-face with some characters from the home’s rich history.
“Life with Susan,” featuring the first-person portrayal of key people in Susan Lawrence Dana’s life and those who worked on her exquisite home, begins Saturday, March 10 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Dana-Thomas House. This unique program will continue the second Saturday of each month through the end of the year - April 14, May 12, June 9, July 14, August 11, September 8, October 13, November 10 and December 8.
Visitors will encounter re-enactors portraying actual historic characters in and around the home, including: Susan Lawrence Dana, the home’s owner and Springfield socialite; Flora Lawrence, Susan’s cousin who lived with the family for more than 40 years; Mary Agnes Lawrence, Susan’s mother, who lived just long enough to witness the completion of the house; Richard Bock, the artist and long time Frank Lloyd Wright collaborator who sculpted two pieces inside the house; Marion Mahoney, the female architect who worked with Wright and designed the fountain inside the house; Mr. and Mrs. Stuart Brown, Susan’s neighbors who were prominent Springfield citizens; Governor and Mrs. Charles Deneen; and a maid in Susan’s house. Each of the characters will speak and act as though it is the early 1900s and the Dana-Thomas House is still relatively new. Poetry readings or live music will be part of future “Life with Susan” Saturdays.
In 1902, wealthy Springfield socialite Susan Lawrence Dana chose a brash young Chicago architect named Frank Lloyd Wright to design a house suitable for entertaining on a grand scale. The House was completed in 1904, and for the next several years was the scene of some of the most lavish parties ever held in Springfield. Mrs. Dana moved to more modest living quarters in the late 1920s, and when she died in the mid 1940s the House was purchased by the Charles C Thomas Publishing Company. The House was purchased and restored by the State of Illinois and has been open since for public tours.
The Dana-Thomas House State Historic Site, administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, includes more than 450 individual pieces of intricate, Wright-designed art glass and more than 100 original pieces of Wright-designed furniture. It remains the world’s most complete and best preserved of Wright’s early Prairie style residences. The home is open Wednesday through Sunday for public tours, and a donation of $5 for adults, $3 for children and $13 per family is suggested.