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Turcoman Portieres and Arabia's Sweetest Perfumes: 
The Turkish Style in American Middle-Class Interiors, 1890-1930 

Karina Helen Hiltje Corrigan 



The Graduate Program in Historic Preservation 

Presented to the faculties 

of the University of Pennsylvania 

in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements 

for the Degree of 

Master of Science 

Gail Caskey_Winkler, Lecturer in Historic Preservation, Advisor 

Professor in Historic Preservation, Reader 


David G. De Long, Professor of Architecture, Graduate Group Chair 






Acknowledgments iii 

Preface i v 

List of Illustrations v 

Introduction 1 

Chapter 1: The Grand Tour and the "Streets of Cairo" 

Nineteenth-Century Perceptions of the Near East 

Travel Literature 4 

The World's Columbian Exposition 11 

International Pavilions 14 

The Midway Plaisance 15 

Chapter Two: Furnishings in the Turkish Style 

Divans 24 

Ottomans and Hassocks 26 

Tabouret Tables 27 

Latticework Grilles 29 

Narghiles and Smoking Alcoves 30 

Turkish Baths 32 

Turkish Tufting and Upholstered Seating 36 

Chapter 3: Textiles and Carpets in the Turkish Style 

Cosy Corners 39 

Portieres 43 

Divan and Couch Covers 49 

Oriental Rugs 50 

John Stephenson's Drapers' Catalogue: 1913 and 1926 54 

The Demise of the Cosy Corner 56 

Chapter Four: A "Fabulous Secret Room" 

The Moorish Study of Dr. Joseph Jastrow 59 

Conclusion 71 

Illustrations 75 

Bibliography 112 


Tim Marr offered a host of thoughts on the subject of Orientalism and 
reassured me that this topic was not completely absurd. Jane Bowerfind has 
earned my eternal thanks. Her clear guidance allowed this thesis to be 
completed only slightly off course. Without her, it surely would never have 
been finished. My sister, Caitlin Corrigan has earned special recognition for 
her willingness to proofread when she would have preferred to surf. 
Spiritual and financial support for this thesis was provided by my remarkable 
and loving parents. They deserve particular thanks for trying so hard not to 
nag. I hope that they are ready for another round! 

Dr. Roger W. Moss has assisted with this thesis at nearly every step of 
its progress. The resources of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia were 
invaluable and his willingness to read this thesis amidst the heat wave of 
1995 should not go unnoticed. I would especially like to thank my advisor, 
Gail Caskey Winkler, whose intellect is astounding and laughter is 
contagious. Whatever is useful or intriguing within this thesis is due to her 
patience, generosity, and support. Drs. Winkler and Moss encouraged my 
first tentative steps into the world of Material Culture, the study of which I 
hope will last a lifetime. 


The Middle East the Far East, and South Asia are the design sources 
incorporated into the exotic Islamic style, also known as the Moorish style, a 
nineteenth-century trend in American and European homes. I have limited 
the study for this thesis to American manifestations of Middle Eastern, more 
specifically Turkish design. Both the cosy corner and the smoking alcove, two 
key elements of this thesis, had direct connections to Turkey in the minds of 
nineteenth-century Americans. Consequently, I have chosen to refer to the 
trend discussed herein as the 'Turkish style." 

I examined trade catalogues, travel literature, postcards, contemporary 
newspaper articles, and magazines directed at middle-income families while 
researching this thesis. Wanting a body of evidence that followed middle- 
class design tastes throughout the period, I turned to the mail order 
catalogues which debuted at the end of the nineteenth century. I chose to 
examine the Sears, Roebuck and Company catalogues from 1896 to 1940. 
Known as the "Wish Book," the Sears catalogue advertised inexpensive and 
sought after merchandise through the mail for middle-income Americans. 
The Sears catalogue was chosen in favor of the Montgomery, Ward catalogue 
and other nineteenth-century mail order catalogues because the Free Library 
of Philadelphia has a complete run of the Sears catalogue on microfilm. 


1.1 John Frederick Lewis, The Siesta 75 

1.2 Moorish Women taking a Walk 75 

1.3 Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Odalisque 76 

1.4 Women (young girls) at Home 77 

1.5 Femme Arabe dans son Interieur 78 

1.6 Arabian Woman with a Yachmak 79 

1.7 The Central Basin at the World's Columbian Exposition 80 

1.8 Map of the World's Columbian Exposition 81 

1.9 The Turkish Building at the World's Columbian Expostion 80 

1.10 The Midway, Looking East from the Ferris Wheel 82 

1.11 The Turkish Bazaar at the World's Columbian Exposition 82 

1.12 Elia Souhami Sadullah's Concession at the Exposition 83 

1.13 The "Streets of Cairo" at the World's Columbian Exposition 83 

1.14 Daily Wedding Procession on the "Streets of Cairo" 84 

1.15 The Ottoman Hippodrome at the World's Columbian Exposition 85 

1.16 Turkish Guard in customary pose at the Exposition 85 

2.1 Turkish Lounge, circa 1910 86 

2.2 Hassocks and Ottomans 86 

2.3 Belle Fatma 87 

2.4 Jardinier Stand (Sears) 88 

2.5 "Artistic Grilles" (Sears) 88 

2.6 Alcove showing grilles in doorway and window 89 

2.7 Turkish Water Pipe, (Sears) 90 

2.8 Smoking Jackets 91 


2.9 Turkish Towels (Sears) 92 

2.10 Turkish Bath (Sears) 93 

2.11 Turkish Parlor Suite (Sears) 93 

2.12 Turkish frame sofa, displayed at the World's Columbian Exposition 94 

2.13 Turkish leather chair 94 

3.1 The Poire ts' 1002nd night party 95 

3.2 A Coy Comer (Morrison) % 

3.3 Parlor in the John Cvirtis house, 1910 - prior to renovations 97 

3.4 Parlor in the John Curti house, 1910 - addition of a cosy comer 97 

3.5 A Cosy Comer (Milhau) 98 

3.6 Mrs. Hughes' Turkish Cosy Corner 99 

3.7 A Cosy Corner (Streitenfeld) 100 

3.8 Portieres (Sears) 101 

3.9 Bagdad Curtains 101 

3.10 Rope Portieres 102 

3.11 Turkish Couch Cover, circa 1910 102 

3.12 Artloom Tapestry Curtains 103 

3.13 Waverly Wilton Rugs 104 

3.14 Temple Brussels Rugs 105 

3.15 Smyrna Rugs, 1897 106 

4.1 The Entrance Hall to Joseph Jastrow's Study, 1954 107 

4.2 The Entrance Hall to Joseph Jastrow's Study, 1954 108 

4.3 The Entrance Hall to Joseph Jastrow's Study, 1961 109 

4.4 Joseph Jastrow's Study, 1954 110 

4.5 Joseph Jastrow's Study, 1961 111 


"The Eternal East," as the Near East was often coined in the 
nineteenth century, conjured up images of turbaned men smoking 
hashish in hookahs and their many wives lounging on divans, gazing 
longingly out of the latticed windows of harems. Westerners were 
enchanted with the Near East and the seemingly languorous lifestyle of all 
its inhabitants. This fascination with Eastern life led many Westerners to 
incorporate furnishings and textiles reminiscent of Middle-Eastern 
interiors into their homes. Most design histories regard the Turkish craze 
of the 1880s and 1890s in the United States and Europe as one of the many 
fashion phases of Victorians' fickle tastes, overlooking the fact that many 
American middle-income families maintained a fascination with this 
style until well into the 1930s. ^ 

Like nearly all design trends, the Turkish style emerged among the 
upper echelons of American and European society. Traveling between 
Europe and the Middle East became easier in the early decades of the 
nineteenth century and by the 1850's, wealthy Americans were visiting the 
Near East in larger numbers. Visitors brought back rugs, tabouret tables, 
narghiles, and elaborately embroidered fabrics to the fashionable parlors 
and smoking rooms of their families and friends. ^ Frederick Edwin 

^Katherine Grier discussed the upholstered Turkish furnishings of both elaborate and 
simple American parlors in her book. Culture and Comfort: People, Parlors, and Upholstery 
1850-1930. published in 1988. 

^Amanda Lange examined how the American elite used these souvenirs to replicate their 
image of the East in her 1990 Winterthur thesis, The Islamic Taste in American Domestic 
Interios, 1869-1910. 

Church's home, Olana, in Hudson, New York is perhaps the most famous 

American building in the exotic Islamic style. Built between 1870 and 187^ 

Olana was the first American home designed in this style on both the 

interior and the exterior. Although the house was based on a Beaux- Arts 

plan, the exterior was ornamented with Moorish arches and mosaics. 

Church filled the interior with Turkish portieres and smoldering mosque 

lanterns. Jay Gould and Frederick Lautenberg, both from prominent New 

York families, also incorporated elaborate elements of the exotic Islamic 

style in their homes.3 

Powerful and wealthy people like Gould, Lautenberg and Church 

were at the pinnacle of American society during the nineteenth century 

and their luscious interiors were often carefully documented through 

descriptions and photographs. Modest American interiors were less 

consciously documented, but surviving photographs of late nineteenth 

and early twentieth-century middle-class interiors reveal that many 

contained elements of Turkish design. The depth and length of this 

design trend becomes more apparent when exanuning the mail order 

catalogues and prescriptive design literature of the period. Magazines like 

Art Amateur and Household News, which were written for women 

managing households on a limited budget, published articles on 

"Oriental" interiors in nearly every issue at the end of the century. These 

articles and the availability of Near Eastern-inspired objects in the 

catalogues of Sears, Roebuck and Company until the 1930s reveal a 

•'Joseph Byron photographed these and other New York interiors at the end of the 
nineteenth century. His collection is now housed at the Museum of the City of New York. 

previously underestimated American fascination for all things Eastern in 

the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 

The World's Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893 

introduced tremendous numbers of Americans to the Near East at the 

exhibits on the Midway Plaisance. Chapter One explores the relationship 

between mid-nineteenth century travel accounts of the Near East and the 

journey that many less affluent Americans took half a century later to the 

"Streets of Cairo" and the "Turkish Bazaar" at the Columbian Exposition."^ 

Chapters Two and Three focus specifically on the marufestations of this 

style in furniture and in textiles and carpets. Chapter Four addresses a 

uruque Moorish interior, the jewel box of a study which Joseph Jastrow, a 

professor at the University of Wisconsin, constructed in the attic of his 

home from 1910 to 1928. 

"^The centennial of the Ex]X)sition encouraged the publication of many histories of the Fair. 
Contesting Images: Photography and the World's Columbian Exposition, by Julie Brown 
was particularly helpful for my research, as was Constructing the Fair: Platinum 
Photographs by CD. Arnold of the World's Columbian Exposition, by Peter B. Hales. 



Nineteenth-Century Perceptions of the Near East 

Travel Literature 

Western visitors to the Near East were not unheard of in the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but as travel in the region became 
increasingly safe and less arduous, members of affluent families in Europe 
and the United States began including Egj^t, Palestine, and Turkey on 
their list of Grand Tour destinations. After the mid-1860's, Turkish cosy 
corners and Islamicized smoking alcoves were added to upper-class parlors 
to reflect these visits. 

Travelers brought home with them stories of the enchanted East 
and exotic souverurs as testimony to their adventures. Amateur and 
professional artists frequently documented their travels with sketches and 
paintings. During the second half of the century, photographs documented 
life in Constantinople and Cairo with increased detail. The plethora of 
nineteenth-century books chronicling travel in the Near East might lead 
one to believe that every Western visitor to Constantinople felt compelled 
to reveal to the rest of the world the story of his or her journey to the East. 
The demand for these accounts encouraged their staggering publication 

If a traveling party to the Near East were fortunate enough to 
include women who were granted entrance into a harem, any accounts of 
the journey would naturally include a description of the interior and the 

odalisques who inhabited it. The lure of the harems was so great that 

most travel accounts included some description of life within them, even 
if the writer lacked first-hand knowledge. Turkish baths were only slightly 
less fascinating to Western readers; the vast majority of nineteenth- 
century travel literature on Turkey included descriptions and discussions 
of both. 

James Boulden was fully aware of the appeal of his topic when he 
titled his travel account of 1855, An American among the Orientals, 
including an Audience with the Sultan and a Visit to the Interior of a 
Turkish Harem . He described the furniture in the Sultan's Palace, noting 
the basic design sinularities between the Sultan's house and most Turkish 
homes: "Divans .... as in almost every Turkish house, extended around 
three sides of the room."^ Boulden noted on a trip to the home of Fuad 
Effendi, the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, that the divans in the 
house of this cosmopolitan politician "were almost the only relic of the 
luxurious past."6 Communication with the West "was rapidly 
revolutionizing the mode of living among the Orientals of the better class, 
at least," and Effendi's furniture reflected this contact.^ 

Over fifty years later, Lucy Garnett recorded her impressions of 
Turkish living conditions in her book. Home Life in Turkey . Most 
Turkish homes were "irregularly built, rambling edifices of two stories, 
divided internally into two establishments: the haremlik and the 

^James A. P. Boulden. An American among the Orientals, including an Audience with the 
Sultan and a Visit to the Interior of a Turkish Harem . Philadelphia: Lindsay and 
Blakiston, 1855: 72. 
^Boulden: 86. 
^Boulden: 89. 


salemlik."^ The space within Turkish homes was segregated by sex. The 

public area within the house, the salemlik, was the domain of the aduh 
men of the house. Women of the household could join their husbands in 
this space only when they were not visited by guests. The haremlik was 
the women's realm of the house, where non-family males were not 
permitted. Whether accurate or not, many Western accounts asserted that 
the matriarch of the house was not permitted out of the harem, whereas 
the patriarch had access to the entire house. The mabeyn, which in Arabic 
means "the space between two objects," linked the haremlik and the 
salemlik. Goods were transferred from the mabeyn into the haremlik 
through a revolving cupboard. Only the patriarch had the keys to the 
mabeyn and thus access to the haremlik.^ Although Turkish and other 
Islamic women's actions were certainly regulated in many ways. Western 
writers often appear to have exaggerated the restrictions upon Islamic 
women's movements within their homes. 

James Boulden maintained in his account of travels in 1855 that 
"the windows of the harem are closely latticed to prevent its irunates from 
being observed by outsiders. No male infidel vision ever penetrates into 
those sacred recesses, where, reclining luxuriously upon rich gold 
embroidered doth divans, the air glowing with Arabia's sweetest 
perfumes .... these houris while away the time in blissful indolence." 10 
The haremlik's inaccessibility to all but a few fortunate female visitors 

°Lucy M. Gamett. Home Life in Turkey . New York: The MacMillan Company, 1909: 260. 
9ibid: 260-265. 
"•OBoulden: 64. 

heightened Westerners' fascination with the world behind the latticed 


Boulden's choice of the word "inmate" to describe the women of 
the harem reflected a Western misconception of the Near East. Americans 
often perceived these women as prisoners, held in their own homes by 
ruthless husbands and fathers. A beautiful piece of antique embroidery, 
found in a Constantinople bazaar, was described by a dealer as "the work of 
some fair odalisque, of the harem of a Sultan long since gone to his 
account with Allah." The dealer lamented that the embroidery was "the 
one poor resource of pleasure in a life condemned to thralldom, which 
was as hateful as its surroundings were mockingly gorgeous." ^^ The many 
images and descriptions of the pale skinned odalisques lying down all day 
portrayed Turkish women as well-kept prostitutes (see figure 1.1). 
Although provided with their every material need, these women were 
not free to leave their homes unless they were shrouded so completely in 
cloth as to make them nearly invisible. Westerners curiously had little 
difficulty in uniting the image of Turkish women in hejab, wrapped from 
head to toe in fabric, with the luscious nudes in Ingres' paintings of the 
Turkish baths (see figures 1.2 and 1.3). Western images of Eastern women 
transformed the all-encompassing hejab into a sexually enticing object for 
Western men's gaze and the source of as much interest as the haremlik 

Lucy Garnett attempted to dispel the elaborate fantasies 
surrounding women in harems. Despite many of the other 

^'S.M. Putnam. "Draperies and Embroideries in the East." The Decorator and Furnisher, 
vol. xix, no. 1 (October 1891): 19. 


generalizations Garnett made about "Orientals," she asserted that harems 

were not full of women "reclining on a divan, eating sweets and playing 
with [their] jewels," an image made popular in so many paintings and 
descriptions in the 19th century.^^ On the contrary, Garnett argued that the 
daily schedules of Turkish women were quite full. Rising early to prepare 
coffee and pipes for the men of the house, women proceeded to oversee 
the cooking and cleaning. Garnett acknowledged that women never went 
outside without being fully covered. However, these veiled women, 
according to Garnett, moved freely through the streets of Constantinople 
without an escort on their way to a women's luncheon or to the baths. 
She concluded her section on the fate of women in the Near East by 
maintaining that "Turkish women are legally as free or freer than 
European women."i3 Yet, the fact that Garnett felt it necessary to dispel 
these attitudes indicates their pervasiveness in American culture at the 

Malek Alloula examined 19th century Freivch postcards in his long 
essay entitled "The Colonial Harem." Alloula analyzed the many posed 
photographs of "Moorish" and Algerian women in their homes. Because 
photographers were unable to actually get inside harems, prostitutes were 
hired to represent the women in harems in these photographic postcards. 
In many of the photographs, women stand at a window, gazing longingly 
out of the bars (see figure 1.4). The window bars used in these 
photographs do not resemble the lattice work on the windows of real 
harems precisely because the viewer/ photographer would not have been 

12Gamett: 269. 
l^Gamett: 269, 274, 27. 

able to see through authentic lattice work. The window bars in the 
photographs both provide a clear view of the interior of the harem and 
resemble prison bars familiar to Western viewers. Many of the 
photographs do not contain these window bars at all, implying that they 
were taken "inside" the harem. ^^ Through these photographs, the viewer 
is able to travel into the haremlik, overcoming the restrictions imposed 
upon him by Turkish men. 

Photographs like the Femme Arabe dans leur interieur in figure 1.5 
showed Eastern women smoking (How shocking!) and enjoying cups of 
coffee. Many of the women in these postcard photographs were semi- 
dothed; the images served as an apparently acceptable form of erotic 
imagery for the senders and receivers of these postcards. ^^ Figure 1.6 is a 
particularly dramatic image of a Near Eastern woman. Clothed in a 
yachmak, only her eyes and breasts are visible. Women in hejab were 
normally entirely shrouded in fabric, their eyes being the only visible part 
of their body. Western imaginations (and Eastern for that matter) were 
normally forced to mentally recreate the alluring body underneath the 
cloth. This image simultaneously provided the Western viewer with both 
the exotic element of a hidden, inaccessible treasure and the visual 
exposure and presentation of the forbidden body. During the nineteenth- 
century, Americans defined the Near East through images like these and 

^^Malek Alloula. The Colonial Harem , translated by Myma Godzich and Wlad Godzich. 
Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press, 1986. 

^^Martha, a French tourist in Algeria, would probably have been more hesitant to send her 
postcard of a bare chested Moorish woman carrying a tambourine if the woman pictured 
had been a "proper" Western woman. Curiously Martha sent the postcard with the 
greeting, "I am sending you a package to be picked up at the railway station. The babies 
are doing well; they have just taken a walk by the beach. I shall write you shortly at 
greater length. Warm kisses to all of you." quoted in Alloula: 26. 


the writings of travelers like James Boulden and Lucy Garnett. Cosy 

corners and smoking alcoves were derived from these images and 
descriptions. Western impressions of the East, however inaccurate they 
may have been, are important to examine because they shaped the 
development of the Turkish style in American homes. 

During the first half of the nineteenth century, awareness of the 
Near East had been largely limited to the wealthy who could afford to 
travel. These affluent families littered their parlors with references to the 
Near East throughout the 1870s and 1880s. The decor of their homes was 
intended to reflect their privileged status in society and their highly 
developed aesthetic sense. Postcard representations of the East like those 
in figures 1.1 to 1.6 from the early 1900s exposed a wider audience to the 
wonders of distant regions of the world. Widely available travel accounts 
offered glimpses of the East to Americans who could never have afforded 
to travel to the region. Many of the emerging mail order catalogues began 
offering inexpensive variations of luxurious Eastern textiles and carpets, 
allowing middle and lower middle-income households on a limited 
budget to also display their fine timed aesthetic sensibilities. Although 
imported goods were always preferable to their domestic reproductions, 
"to the great majority of our American homes, the imitations of wall 
coverings, tapestries, etc. are appropriate and desirable," advised A.G. 
Morrison in his 1906 handbook on interior decoration. ^^ By the turn of 
the century, the Turkish decorating craze had already been largely 
abandoned by the wealthy elite. As with most fads, once the Middle Class 

^"A.G. Morrison. Drapery, Interior Decoration and Architecture: A Practical Handbook for 
the Dealer. Decorator and the Workroom . New York: T.A. Cawthra and Company, 1906: 22. 

1 1 

began to adopt these elements of Eastern design in their own homes, the 
upper-class trend setters mocked the masses' enthusiasm for the style. 

Unlike the travelers who had returned to New York, Philadelphia, 
or Boston, towing trvmks laden with Eastern goods and memories of 
Constantinople lit by moonlight, the vast majority of Americans learned 
about the Near East through the literature written by more fortunate 
travelers and perhaps a trip to the Midway Plaisance, an international 
bazaar at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. In 1893, nearly 
fifty years after James Boulden wrote of "rich, embroidered cloth divans" 
and "Arabia's sweetest perfumes," millions of Americans made their own 
symbolic journey to the Near East along the Midway Plaisance. 
The World's Columbian Exposition 

When Columbus landed in the Americas in 1492, he could never 
have anticipated the spectacle which the city of Chicago would orchestrate 
in his honor four hundred years later. The World's Columbian Exposition 
was designed as both a celebration of the "discovery of America" by 
Christopher Columbus and an enormous expose on the latest 
technological, artistic, and architectural advances. The Exposition officially 
began with a dedication ceremony on October 21, 1892, but most of the 
buildings were orUy partially constructed at that time. It opened to the 
public on May 1, 1893.1"^ The Fairgrounds were constructed on six hundred 
and sixty-four acres of land south of downtown Chicago and boasted a 
mile long frontage on Lake Michigan. ^^ 

l^Lfldies' Home Journal. (July, 1892): 6. 

^°Howard M. Rossen and John M. Kaduck. Columbian World's Fair Collectibles . 

Des Moines, lA: Wallace-Homestead Book Company, 1976: vii. 


The Exposition is perhaps remembered most through surviving 

photographs of the colossal figure of "Columbia," designed by Daniel 
Chester French, and the enormous classical buildings that surrounded the 
giant central basin (see figure 1.7). These images are familiar to our eyes, as 
they must have been to so many of the visitors who toured the grounds of 
the Exposition and the millions of Americans who purchased any one 
among the sea of pictorial records of the Fair. The presence of so many of 
these souvenir books in library collections hints at the plethora of editions 
that must have been available in 1893.1^ 

"The White City," as the Exposition was informally known, referred 
specifically to the central basin, the lagoon and the buildings which 
surrounded these bodies of water (see figure 1.8 for a map of the 
fairgrounds). 20 In addition to the main concourse of buildings, most states 
constructed a building at the north end of the fair, above the Art Galleries, 
to display their trademark goods and to provide a place for visiting state 
residents to rest during the day. Delegates from visiting countries also 
constructed buildings to highlight each nation's culture and exported 

^^The Free Library of Philadelphia has over 50 different contemporary pictorial and 
textual explorations of the Exposition in its non-circulating collection. 
^^The Adnrvinistration Building dominated the west end of the central basin, which was 
also surrounded by the Agriculture Building, a Casino and a Music Hall. The enormous 
Manufacturers and Liberal Arts Building fronted on both the central basin and the lagoon. 
The U.S. Government Building, the Women's Building, the Horticulture Building, the 
Mines and Electricity Buildings, and the Transportation Building all surrounded the lagoon 
as well. The Transportation Building, Louis Sullivan's golden-arched masterpiece with a 
multicolored and glittering facade, was the only building on the main concourse which did 
not imitate the Classical Style. The small porticoes on each side of the Transportation 
Building's arch loosely resembled much of the "Islamic" architectural improvisations at 
the Midway Plaisance, further distancing this building from the architecture on the rest of 
the main concourse. "Columbia" and the Palace of Fine Arts are two of the few reminders of 
the Exposition which survive on the fairgrounds south of Chicago. The Palace of Fine Arts 
was considerably altered and now serves as the Museum of Science and Industry. 


products. The classical buildings of the main basin and lagoon were 

devoted largely to education, conunerce and industry. Buildings for the 
display of industrial innovations stood beside buildings devoted to the 
emerging field of anthropology. 

Frederick W. Putnam, a curator from the Peabody Museum at 
Harvard, was placed in charge of the Department of Ethnology and 
Archaeology at the Exposition. Franz Boas, widely regarded as the father of 
American professional anthropology, assisted Putnam with the exhibits. ^^ 
Both Putnam and Boas were interested in creating exhibits which would 
be beneficial and educational for anthropologists and tourists alike. J.W. 
Buel asserted that "an ethnologist might have gone no further than the 
Chicago Fair to find the races of the world and .... study their 
characteristics. "22 Boas acknowledged that viewers frequently did "not 
want anything other than entertainment. "23 He hoped to be able to clarify 
the purpose of each exhibit into an easily understood theme for those who 
did not want to seek that message out for themselves. Putnam and Boas 
were particularly concerned with the accuracy of their exhibits. Creating a 
clear message for reluctant viewers was useful only if the message being 
conveyed was accurate. The Department of Ethnology and Archaeology 
funded both anthropological field research and digs in order to ensure this 

2llra Jacknis. "Franz Boas and Exhibits: On the Limitations of the Museum Method of 

Anthropology." In Objects and Others: Essays on Museums and Material Culture, ed. George 

Stocking. Madison: University of Wisconsin, Madison Press, 1985: 75. 

22j.W. Buel. The Magic City: A Massive Portfolio of Original Photographic Views of the 

Great World's Fair and its Treasures of Art, vol. I, no. 12 (April 2, 1894). St. Louis: 

Historical Publishing Company, 1894: 91. 

23Franz Boas. "Some Principles of Museum Administration." Science 25: 921-33. 

In Jacknis: 86. 

Boas and Putnam's insistence on anthropological "accuracy" was 

most clearly articulated in the Exposition-funded archaeological digs at 

Labna and Uxmal in the Yucatan, two important Mesoamerican sites. 

Putnam used photographs taken on these digs to construct full-size 

replicas of the Portal of Labna and of the twenty-seven foot arch from the 

Governor's Palace at Uxmal outside the Anthropological Building at the 

Exposition.24 Photographs of these and other sites were exhibited inside 

the building. The replicas of the ruins functioned as Boas' clear and 

simple message to which most of the visitors to the Fair could respond 

with little or no effort. The exhibits and photographs inside the ruins 

were designed for those people who wanted to learn more about the site 

and the culture from which it emerged. 

International Pavilions 

The international buildings north of the lagoon largely ignored 
Boas and Putnam's interest in scholarly-based representations of other 
cultures in favor of a more entertaining perspective. Like the state 
buildings throughout the Exposition, the international buildings were 
designed to encourage trade and travel. Most of these structures were 
reminiscent of vernacular architectural styles in their respective countries. 
Exhibits within these buildings highlighted the major exports of each 
country as well as some of its artistic and cultural traditions. 

The Turkish Building and its exhibits were designed to try to dispel 
the pervasive image of Turkey as a nation of languorous men and women 
(see figure 1.9). Immediately upon entering the building, one was 

2** Julie K. Brown. Contesting Images: Photography and the World's Columbian Exposition. 
Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1994: 41. 


confronted by "a huge torpedo, exploded by an electric cap, made in 

Constantinople .... it is sixteen feet long and looks anything but the 
offspring of the somnolent Orient. "^5 Display cases filled with mineral 
salts, Turkish coffee, and a map in stucco of Constantinople accompanied 
the torpedo. A fire engine, proudly displayed in the center of the room, 
provided Constantinople's best defense against the fires which frequently 
raged within the dty. 

When commenting on the Turkish Building near the lagoon, 
James Shepp, in Shepp's World's Fair Photographed, expressed his 
astonishment at the efficiency of the Turks. He offered a somewhat 
backhanded compliment at their ability to complete the exhibit on 
schedule: "Strange as it may appear, this semi-oriental nation was the first 
to complete her exhibits at the Fair. Turkey has been called the 'sick man 
of Europe,' but here, there is no evidence of decrepitude. "^6 Despite the 
overall impression of technological advances in the exhibit and the 
efficiency of the building's construction, Shepp was quick to associate the 
elaborate embroidery and needlework on display with the "women of the 
Turkish harems [who had] ample time to spend upon needlework," 
because they were locked in their harems for a lifetime.^^ 

The Midway Plaisance 

The Midway Plaisance at the World's Columbian Exposition also 
presented a fashion show of cultures, albeit in a slightly more irreverent 
manner. West of the central basin and reflecting its less serious function 

■^^James E. Shepp and Daniel B. Shepp. Shepp's World's Fair Photographed . Chicago: 
Globe Bible Publishing Company, 1893: 482. 
26shepp: 482 
27shepp: 482. 


as a center of entertainment, the Midway stood in marked contrast to the 

gleaming white classical buildings of the "White City" (see figure 1.10). 
A single street extending west from the outskirts of the main promenade, 
the Midway contained a variety of "villages." Visitors could enter the 
enclosed displays for a fee, generally twenty-five cents per village. The 
Irish Village was located nearest to the rest of the fair, followed closely by 
the New England Log Cabin. The German Village, the Turkish Village, 
Old Vienna, the Moorish Palace, and the Cairo Street were the largest 
concessions within the Midway Plaisance.^^ 

Four years after the Exposition closed, Rossiter Johnson described 
the Midway's function in the larger plan of the Exposition: "The Midway 
Plaisance . . . offered an admirable location for picturesque displays, 
characteristic of the customs of foreign nations and various forms of 
amusement, refreshment, comfort, and rest. This narrow strip of land had 
the advantage of isolating these special features from the grand ensemble 
of the Exposition grounds, thus preventing jarring contrasts between the 
beautiful buildings and grounds on the one hand, and the amusing, 
distracting, ludicrous, and sometimes noisy attractions of the Midway. "^9 
Most of the rest of the Exposition functioned as a technological exhibit or 
museum, whereas the Midway functioned as an amusement park and 
shopping mall. 

Nearly everyone who visited the Exposition also visited the 
Midway on their way to the Ferris wheel, whether they went inside any of 

^^ Rand, McNally & Company's Standard Guide of the World's Columbian Exposition at 
Chicago, 1893. Republished in Contesting Images, 1994: xiv-xv. 

^^Rossiter Johnson. A History of the World's Columbian Exp>osition, vol. I. New York: 
D. Appleton and Company, 1897: 75. 

the villages or not. Nine out of ten visitors to the fair rode the Ferris 

Wheel, which was located halfway down the Plaisance.^O Hawkers 

outside all of the exhibits attempted to lure visitors inside their 

concessions, for indeed, that is what these villages were. 

Ardeshi and Byramji's East India Palace sold "black-wood and 
sandal-wood furniture, boxes, tables, chairs, .... moradabad-brass and 
copper hand-chased and enameled vases, .... a large assortment of shawls, 
table covers and cushions .... [and] old battle axes."^^ Having been to 
many of the Expositions in Europe, Ardeshir and Byramji were well 
ir\formed about which goods appealed to European consumers. 
Consequently, they claimed to have "placed on sale a collection of 
[merchandise] seldom, if ever seen outside India. "^2 With factories in 
London as well as in India, they were well suited to provide Westerners 
with all of their Eastern design needs. 

Visitors were enticed to take another trip to the "Orient" by the 
women who beckoned from the open portiere at the Turkish Bazaar. 
Unlike the Turkish Building on the lagoon, the Turkish Village and 
Bazaar were primarily commercial ventures. The photograph of the 
Turkish Bazaar in figure 1.11 includes two women dressed in Turkish 
garb, although neither appear to be Turkish. One of them was probably 
Josephine Dolson, Chief Saleslady in the Turkish Village, whose employee 

^"George Ferris, a steel bridge engineer, designed the wheel which t>oasted a diameter of 

two hundred and fify feet. Each of the thirty-six cars comfortably carried forty passengers. 

The Ferris Wheel was dismantled after the Fair and continues to operate at the Prater in 

Vienna. Brown: 103, 155n.48. 

3^Harry T. Smith. Pictorial Album and History of the World's Fair and Midway . Chicago: 

Harry T. Smith and Company, 1893: unpaginated. 

^^Smith, 1893: unpaginated. 

photograph was included at the end of Harry T. Sniith's Pictorial Album 

and History of the World's Fair and Midway . In the photograph. Miss 
Dolson and her companion hold open the portiere, welcoming the viewer 
with smiles. The portiere is surrounded by an elaborate wood frieze, 
which covers the entire wall. Small rugs and tabouret tables for sale are 
scattered before the entrance. A handmade sign tacked to the wall states, 
"silver bedstead-300 years old. Persian War Tent 400 years old - $10. to- 
day. "^^ The entrance provided a taste of the luxuries that visitors might 
find behind the portiere if they offered up their twenty-five cent 
admission fee. Once inside the Turkish Bazaar, one could purchase a wide 
assortment of household goods and trinkets at stands like the one in 
figure 1.12, constructed by Elia Souhami Sadulla and Company, a 
Constantinople-based establishment. 

The "Streets of Cairo" in the Midway "proved to be the most 
spectacular financial success of all" (see figure 1.13).^"^ The popularity of 
the Rue du Caire at the Paris Exposition of 1889 inspired the exhibit in 
Chicago.35 Thanks to "Egyptomania," stockholders in the Egypt-Chicago 
Exposition Company, which organized the exhibit, made more than a one 
hundred percent profit on their initial investment. 36 The drab exterior 
wall of the Egyptian concession opened onto a bustling and exciting 
fabricated city. Just as the recreated archaeological sites of the Yucatan and 
the exhibits inside these "ruins" allowed visitors to symbolically travel to 

^^C.D. Arnold. Official Views of the World's Columbian Exposition . Chicago: Press 
Chicago Photo-Gravure Company, 1894: 104. Smith: unpaginated. 
^Brown: 105. 
35shepp: 506. 
^Johnson: 76. 

South America and learn about that region, the repUca of the Temple of 

Luxor within the "Streets of Cairo" allowed visitors to travel to the Valley 

of the Kings. Inside the temple, display cases held wax mummies, 

reproductions of the tombs of Thi, drca 3800 BC, and the Sacred Bull Apis, 

circa 260 BC.37 

Yet, unlike the Yucatan exhibit, the variably dated materials in the 
"Streets of Cairo" were presented as a collage, rather than a clear picture of 
Egyptian history. The Temple's sponsor, John M. Cook, a partner in 
Thomas Cook and Sons, the travel organization, was primarily interested 
in encouraging people to take trips to Egypt through his travel agency. ^^ 
Consequently, accuracy was not as important an issue as it had been for 
Boas and Putnam in their anthropological exhibitions. Despite the 
variations in dating and the speculative nature of some of the 
reconstruction and decoration, the Temple of Luxor was geared more at 
education than most of the other activities within the "Streets of Cairo." 

Buildings with latticed windows and overhanging second stories 
dominated the landscape. Snake charmers, boys on donkeys, men in 
unfamiliar clothing on camels, strange cooking smells, and women in 
hejab filled the streets with the spirit of the East. A wedding procession 
filed daily through the streets like a parade (see figure 1.14). A tall, white 
minaret dominated the landscape and was one of the few elements of the 
street which was visible from outside the gates on the Midway. The 
"Streets of Cairo" offered for sale a wide assortment of Eastern goods. 

^^Smith: unpaginated. 
38Brown: 108. 

Visitors could acquire "ivories, brass-work, Soudanese arms and draperies, 

gold and silver coins of ancient Egyptian dynasties, genuine mummies [!] 

.... slippers, scarves, and caps," from the sixty-one vendors within.39 

Although not as successful as the "Streets of Cairo," most of the 
other exhibits also offered never-before seen sights for visitors. The 
Ottoman Hippodrome offered "racing on dromedaries, Arabian sports and 
horsemanship, dancing, feasting, and wedding ceremonies, showing life 
in the wild East" (see figure I.IS).'*^ The Midway also featured a Colorado 
gold mining exhibit, a California ostrich farm, Bulgarian curiosities, a 
Lapland village, stereopticon views of Pompeii, and curiously, amid these 
exotic displays, a "reproduction of a model cottage, such as are owned by 
workingmen in Philadelphia/"^^ 

Harry Smith, in his book. Pictorial Album and History of the 
World's Fair and Midway, expressed the delight, which so many visitors 
to the World's Columbian Exposition must also have experienced, of 
traveling to the far corners of the world: "Citizens of Chicago, and 
Americans in general have read, no doubt, columns of the maimers and 
customs of the far East .... but few who attended [the] Fair, have trod the 
streets of those Oriental cities. ... To make a tour of the Holy-land and 
spend several months of sight seeing, a small fortime would have to be 
expended. The World's Fair gave you all the privileges for a trifle. '"^^ 
Although the Exposition was inaccessible to the poorest class of 

^"Smith: unpaginated. 
'^Ojohnson: 79. 
41johnson: 78-9. 
^^Smith: unpaginated. 


Americans, it was an affordable and exdting vacation destination for 

many middle-class Americans. 

In Contesting Images. Julie Brown discussed the popularity of 
amateur photography at the Fair. Many "members of the living-people 
exhibits" charged amateur photographers for the privilege of taking their J 

portrait. Costumed participants often assumed poses that they had learned 
through experience were popular among the tourists, thereby reinforcing 
Americans' preconceived impressions of Near-Easterners (see figure 1.16). 
Brown recounted the story of Carl Koerner who paid two Turkish sedan- 
chair carriers before photographing them. Koerner observed that they 
"adopted a pose of standing with heads and shoulders erect, with one foot 
a little in advance of the other as if in the act of walking."'*3 These 
photographic opportunities provided mementos of a visitor's journey in 
the same way that photos of real streets in Cairo and bazaars in 
Constantinople would have done for trans-Atlantic travelers. 

Visitors to the Exposition could also acquire many of the souvenirs 
of a grand tour. Hester Poole described in Household News, a monthly 
magazine for barely middle-income families, the home of a cosmopolitan 
woman who had decorated her parlor with mementos of her trips around 
the globe. Poole asked, "has she visited the old world? If so, a glaring 
picture of Vesuvius in eruption, coruscating with orange and crimson, 
overhangs a copy of Apollo, or the Marble Fawn, while beside it is placed a 
life-size bust, in plaster, of the latest fashionable Spanish dancer. Below 

^^Carl C. Koerner, Jr. "Snap Shooting at the Great Fair: Interesting Experiences of an 
Amateur with a Hand-Camera at the World's Columbian Exp)osition," American Amateur 
Photographer 5 (July 1893): 297-98, quoted in Brown: 110. 

may stand a low Turkish table, inlaid with ivory, and on the sofa beside it 

a Navajo blanket hanging over a Daghestan rug."^ All of these "telltale 

signs" of travel in Europe and the Middle East could have been purchased 

at the concession stands at the Exposition. 

Who needed to actually journey to the Near East when the exhibits 
at the Exposition allowed one to photograph the sights and purchase the 
merchandise of foreign nations? Most members of the Middle Class were 
not fortunate enough to accompany the throngs of wealthy Americans 
and Europeans who began touring the Near East in the nineteenth 
century. Many had probably read accounts of these countries in novels 
and in travelogues. For the majority, a trip to "Turkey" on the Midway 
Plaisance was their first direct exposure to Turkish people and culture and 
probably the closest that many would ever get to the Near East.'*^ 

After the Exposition finally closed, the editor of a New York journal 
asked a variety of prominent men and women their impressions of the 
fair in Chicago. E.C. Stedman heartily defended of the architecture of the 
White City, which many others had criticized. Stedman maintained that 
"to rouse the sense of beauty itself among our faraway plain people was 
the highest rnission of the Fair. It sent thousands back to unlovely homes 
with the beginning of a noble discontent. "^^ Although Stedman himself 
may have detested the Midway Plaisance and the orchestrated chaos of its 
exhibits, his words underlie the impact of the Midway and the various 
Near Eastern exhibits within it. American middle-class families returned 

'*'*Hester Poole. "A Japanese Room." Household News, vol. Ill (1893): 89. 


^"Elizabeth Brown and Alan Fern. "Introduction." In Revisiting the White City: American 

Art at the 1893 World's Fair . Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1993: 13. 

to their homes with the Smyrna rugs, portieres, tabouret tables, hookah 

pipes, and tapestries which they had accumulated at the Exposition and 

integrated them into the decorative schemes of their homes. 

The often inaccurate image of the Near East projected by the 

Midway Plaisance and the subsequent publications surrounding the 

Exposition supported the "vivid mythology" of the Near East which 

irutially had been generated by the Orientalist painters and writers of the 

nineteenth-century. The Midway Plaisance brought this previously elite 

imagery into the minds, lives, and living rooms of millions of 


^'Brandon Brome Fortune and Michelle Mead point out in Revisiting the White City: 
American Art at the 1893 World's Fair that many American and Europ)ean Orientalist 
painters created combinations of images, scenes and people, "striving for visual effect 
rather than ethnographical authenticity," in paintings of Eastern scenes. Like the 
Orientalist painters of the period, the Midway Plaisance sought to create a visually 
pleasing scene rather than an accurate representation of the Near East. Fortune and Mead. 
"Catalogue of American Paintings and Sculptures exhibited at the World's Columbian 
Exposition." In Revisiting the White City: American Art at the 1893 World's Fair . 
National Museum of American Art. Hanover: University Press of New England, 1994: 162. 



Although textiles and carpets were frequently imported from the 
Near East, the furniture which was incorporated in exotic Islamic, or 
Turkish style interiors was largely constructed in the United States. 
Tabouret tables were one of the few imported items of furniture to be 
included in nineteenth-century American interiors of the Turkish style. 
The American furniture which came to be described as "Turkish," 
"Oriental" or "Moorish" and which occupied prominent positions in 
American parlors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries bore 
little resemblance to anything of the furnishings in the Near East. The 
distinction between the source and its offspring became even greater after 
the tvirn of the century, when the pieces identified as "Turkish" bore closer 
resemblance to a Lazy-Boy recliner than any of the furnishings in the 
divan khane, or main living space, in Turkish homes. 


Low couches and lounges, which resembled the divans in so many 
of the late nineteenth-century Orientalist paintings of elaborate Eastern 
interiors, were an all-purpose furniture item in Victorian homes: "The 
first requisite of a family room is a good, wide lounge, not a narrow, stiff, 
short affair, nor one with tufted upholstery. Much as the old box lounge 
has been ridiculed, nothing can quite supersede it."' These lounges were 
ideal for children's naps or a relaxing afternoon snooze. They provided a 

^ Hester Poole. "The Family Room - Continued." Household News, vol. IV (1896): 309. 

convenient respite for nurses assisting at the side of a sick bed and the 

drawer below the mattress could be used for extra storage space. 

Jamestown Lounge Company offered such a "wardrobe couch," covered in 

a kilim-pattered fabric, in 1906.2 Sears, Roebuck and Company, offering 

goods for those unable to patronize the Jamestown Lounge Company, 

advertised a seemingly endless selection of Turkish divans and lounges 

from the 1890's until well into the 1930's. The rather expensive leather 

covered Turkish lounge in figure 2.1 was made in about 1910 and is 

believed to have been from a home in Grand Rapids, Michigan.^ 

Hester Poole, whose monthly column on interior decorating was 

surrounded by recipes and cost-cutting home management tips in 

Household News, offered specific guidelines about the lounges within the 

ever-popular cosy comer. Cosy comers and their role in the Turkish style 

in America are discussed in greater detail in chapter three. Poole 

recommended that the couch in a cosy corner be made "out of pine, six 

feet long, thirty inches wide and eighteen inches high, with wire springs 

and a good mattress; [it] may be covered with blue corduroy, which sells 

from 60 cents upward. It should have plenty of pillows in all shades of 

yellow and yellowish red.""* Several months later Poole insisted that, for a 

reception room, "the only covered furnishings [should be] a long divan. 

2 Jamestown Lounge Company advertisement. In Drapery. Interior Decoration and 

Architecture: A Practical Handbook for the Deale. Decorator, and the Workroom, by A.G. 

Morrison. New York: Cawthra and Comany, 1906: viii. 

^ Katherine Grier. Culture & Comfort: People. Parlors and Upholstery 1850-1930 . 

Rochester, NY: The Sti-ong Museum, 1988, plate 19 between pp.180-181. 

^ Hester Poole. "Answers to Inquirers." Household News, vol III (1895): 165. 

where the room is exceedingly spadous. The covering of this piece of 

furniture should be self-colored, deep and rich, rather than bright."^ 

In a column on "Economy in Decoration," Poole provided 

instructions for those who could not afford a new lounge on how to 

rehabilitate an old lounge. "Rub it well with coarse sand-paper and paint it 

with black enamel .... touch the carvings .... with a narrow line of gilt, 

such as is sold in powder, with liquid for mixing. Make a soft cushion for 

the bottom and cover it with rep, tapestry, or cretonne; whatever is 

suitable. At either end arrange a couple of square pillows, covered with a 

contrasting tint."^ 

Poole was sjnnpathetic to those families even too poor to have a 

lounge to be salvaged. Undaunted, she offered directions for constructing a 

lounge from scratch. "Press pater familias or one of the boys into service to 

make a frame for a lounge," to which she added instructions on 

dimensions and hints on materials, construction, the interior webbing and 

filling, and covers. She concluded these directions with a finishing 

decorative suggestion: "two or three large square pillows, covered with the 

stuff upon the lounge or with India silk, standing against the wall, finishes 

a handsome piece of furniture, and one that is serviceable."'' 

Ottomans and Hassocks 

Small hassocks, pillows in leather or tapestry, were used as foot rests 

in American parlors. Their affordability made them a frequent addition to 

middle-class homes. Sears offered eleven different varieties of hassocks 

5 Hester Poole. "The Reception Hall." Household News, vol III (1895): 448. 

6 ibid: 41. 

7 ibid: 41. 

and footrests in the 1905 Catalogue (see figure 2.2). A children's hassock 

was available for 19 cents. The "octagon ottoman foot rest," covered in 

tapestry cost 75 cents. Sears claimed to be the sole producer of a "grand 

Oriental sumptuous hassock," a large velvet footstool, available for 85 

cents. ^ 

Because practicality was as important as beauty to the readers of 
Household News, Hester Poole suggested that "window seats [were] 
especially luxurious receptacles for clothing that is not too fine, while 
square box ottomans, covered and valenced with a durable material, make 
shoe boxes that a queen might envy."^ Sears offered such a "hassock and 
slipper box combined" in 1905 for 89 cents. Ottomans carried the cultural 
associations of the East in their name, which referred to the Turkish 
djmasty founded by Osman I in 1300. 

Taboxxret Tables 

The main room in a Turkish home was generally surrounded on 
three sides by divans. The forth side contained a storage console of some 
kind where ornamental and functional objects were displayed. In each 
room, "one or two irUaid walnut-wood tray-stools [were] placed .... near 
the divan to hold cigarette boxes, ashtrays, and other trifles. "^° The 
tabouret in figure 2.3, on which "Belle Fatmah" rested her coffee, was 
similar to many of the tabouret tables imported to the United States. Even 
American parlors which did not incorporate any other aspects of the Near 
Eastern style frequently contained one of these little all-purpose tabouret 

^ Sears, Roebuck Company Catalogue for Spring 1905. vol. 114. Chicago: Sears, Roebuck and 

Company, 1905: 803. 

' Hester Poole. "Decoration: Carpets." Household News, vol II (1894): 749. 

^^Lucy M. Gamett. Home Life in Turkey . New York: The MacMillan Company, 1909: 261. 


tables. Sears asserted that "jardinier stands" were a "very stylish ornament 

for any parlor." These small tables, illustrated in figure 2.4, were available 

in oak or "imitation mahogany finish" for $1.70 in Zella Milhau 

considered the tabouret table, or Karan inlaid stool, a fundamental 

component of the Near Eastern interior. She included them in all of the 

illustrations of cosy corners for her article in The Decorator and 

Furnisher A^ 

The Flemish Art Company sold small tabouret tables in plain wood, 

without the mother of pearl and ivory commonly inlaid on imported 

tabouret tables. Consumers added their own decoration to the Flemish 

Art Company's tabouret tables with pyrography kits they sold. Pyrography, 

a widely popular "craft" activity in the nineteenth century, entailed 

creating designs on the surface of the wood with a burning poker. After 

their application, these burned sections could be left plain or colored. A 

pamphlet published by the Flemish Art Company detailed the procedure 

of this "simple, artistic and fascinating pastime." Pyrography was useful 

both as a leisure activity and a way to "increase ones income."!^ Hester 

Poole assured her readers that "pyrography ... is done after a little practice 

by any one (sic) having the least art-training or dexterity and precision in 

drawing. "1"* The column also instructed readers on how to avoid creating 

llpred Israel. 1897 Sears. Roebuck . New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1968: 669. 

1^ Zella Milhau. "Home Decoration. "T^e Decorator and Furnisher, vol. xix, no. 3 

(August, 1888): 109-112. 

1 3 Koenig. Pyrography: A Complete Course of Instructions, Practical. Simple, and 

Progressive . New York: Flemish Art Company, undated: 2. 

1"^ Hester Poole. "The Reception Hall." Household News, vol III (1895): 447. 

unwanted dots, how to shade the background and the best types of woods 

to use. 

Latticework Grilles 

Because the harem held such fascination for American readers, 

latticework became a popular ornamental feature in American homes of 

the nineteenth century. But, American consumers incorporated this 

symbol of the harem window in a decidedly impotent manner. Lucy 

Garnett described the "latticed blinds of unpainted wood" which covered 

the windows of the haremlikA^ The windows contained "circular 

openings through which the hanums, themselves unseen, may gaze from 

their cushioned divans on the ever changing scene below. "^^ The fret 

work grilles which resembled the lattice-work of harem windows were 

sometimes placed into the window frames of American parlors. Far more 

frequently, these grilles supported the portieres which draped doorways in 

many American homes. Sears, Roebuck and Company sold the grilles in 

figure 2.5 in 1910.17 

N.W. Jacobs addressed the "considerable controversy . . concerning 
lattice-work, fret-work, and grilles," in his Practical Handbook on Cutting 
Drapery, published in 1890. He maintained that "grilles are used to the 
best advantage in doorways where the spaces are too high to drape with 
good effect, but of late they have been used in windows as well."^^ In an 
"Indo-Saracenic Smoking Room," A.G. Morrison suggested hanging 

15 Garnett: 258. 

16 Gamett: 259. 

17 Sears, Roebuck and Company Catalogue (1910), illustrated in Winkler and Moss: 215. 
1° N.W. Jacobs. Practical Handbook on Cutting Drapery . Minneapolis: Harrison & Smith, 
1890: 117. 

"India Mehrut print [curtains] from a twelve-inch ebonized grille with a 

shelf, [and lining] the shelf with yellow silk."i9 Jacobs illustrated the 

majority of the grilles from his book in the more conventional American 

position over doorways (see figure 2.6). These grilles, which supported 

portieres, allowed for tantalizing views into the next room of the house, 

in much the same way that the harem postcards discussed in chapter one 

provided a coveted view into the impenetrable recesses of the harem. 

In 1905, House and Garden, a magazine whose readers had already 
abandoned the Turkish style, armounced that "fortunately with the 
passing of the jig-saw work and grills from the wooden trim of the 
interior, the brass and onyx table, the plush covered rocker, with all that 
these stand for in furniture, is fast disappearing."20 House and Garden 
filled the void created by the demise of so many of the nineteenth century 
women's magazines; its articles reflected the journal's cutting edge 
approach to design in the early decades of the twentieth century. 
Narghiles and Smoking Alcoves 

Americans associated smoking with life in the Near East. A water 
pipe, narghile, or hookah was a clear moniker of an Eastern interior.^i 
James Boulden, in An American among the Orientals (1855). described 
these ubiquitous narghiles "with their long tubes gracefully winding over 

^" Morrison: 16. 

20 Margaret Greeleaf. "The Interior Finish and Furnishing of the Small House, Part I." 
House and Garden, vol viii, no. 3 (October, 1905): 207. 

2^ The word "hookah" is derived from the Arabic word "huqqah," a casket, vase, or cup. It 
made its debut in the English language in 1783. "Narghile" did not enter the English 
language until 1836. Narghile is derived from the Persian wor, "narghil," which means 
cocoanut, from which the bowl of early water pipes was made. William Little. The Oxford 
Universal Dictionary on Historical Principles . C.T. Onions, editor. Oxford: Clarendon 
Press, 1955: 919, 930. 


them, their cut glass and decanter formed bodies half filled with rose 

water, and their perforated earthen bowls holding the grateful tobacco."22 
These "peace pipes" were generally of immense value. Turkish 
dignitaries brought their own pipes with them when visiting each other. 
Boulden maintained that "Franks," otherwise known as Westerners, were 
not expected to bring their own water pipes when visiting Turkish 
homes. 23 From 1897 to 1905, Sears, Roebuck offered a "Turkish Water 
Pipe," alongside the more familiar German Meerschaum and American 
pipes (see figure 2.7). The narghile sold by Sears had a colored glass bowl 
with painted ornamentation. A "long flexible stem with small amber 
mouthpiece" was attached to the neck of the pipe. A more elaborate pipe 
with two stems, "so two persons can smoke at the same time," would 
have permitted the men reclining on divans in their smoking rooms to 
partake of the "grateful tobacco" without moving. Smoking jackets, like 
those in figure 2.8 were often made of imported fabric with Indian paisleys 
and Near Eastern designs. Small Turkish slippers were also made for 
lounging in these smoking rooms. 24 

In many ways, the nineteenth-century smoking room was a cosy 
corner which occupied an entire room. A.G. Morrison offered the 
smoking room as a respite for the rigors of life in an emerging industrial 

22 James A. P. Boulden. An American among the Orientals, including an Audience with the 
Sultan and a Visit to the interior of a Harem. Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blakiston, 
1855: 61. 

23 Boulden: 73-4. 

24 Richard Martin and Harold Koda. Orientalism: Visions of the East in Western Dress . 
New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994: 44. 


Conversant as we are with the strenuous Ufe the average 
American leads, be it in the stock n^arket, at the desk, or in 
other spheres of activity, one thing is evident, that the home 
should supply the retreat where the cares of the day, are 
forgotten in home-like comforts and congenial surroundings, 
where the association of a nicely flavored cigar will not 
trespass on dainty hangings, .... there are times in every 
one's experience where absolute rest and quiet is required to 
restore the shattered nerves, to soothe the aching head and to 
rest the weary muscles, and what better place than such a 
room, which we will call the Gentleman's Den .... Such a 
room, if arranged comfortably, would in a great measure 
offset the charms of the club, and could contain all the 
ingredients necessary for comfort and rest. 25 

Unlike cosy corners, which will be discussed in greater detail in chapter 

three, smoking rooms were decidedly male spaces in nineteenth century 

homes. Cosy corners were associated with women because they were 

frequently located in the parlor, a more feminine area of the house. 

Turkish Baths 

In addition to the descriptions of the reclining women in harems 

and the mosques of Constantinople, nearly all of the nineteenth-century 

European travel literature on Turkey discussed the public bath houses. 

Turkish baths titillated American Victorian sensibilities with fantasies of 

steamy rooms filled with sen\i-clad and nude people. Nearly all of the 

descriptions of the baths were written by men. They spoke of the bath 

attendants who washed and flogged the bathers into a state of cleanliness. 

After this apparently painful experience, the battered Western man in 

question was carried to a separate room by another bath worker, wo^apped 

in a towel (a Turkish towel!) and left to recline with tea or coffee and a 

25 Morrison: 20. 

languorous smoke on a narghile, surrounded by Turkish men who had 

also gone through this or deal. ^6 

Westerners' descriptions of their experiences in a Turkish bath 

embodied their general perceptions of the Near East: savagery and 

languorous indolence. Americans intrigued by tales of the bath could 

recreate this experience in the far less threatening environment of their 

own homes by purchasing imported Turkish towels. Lucy Garnett, in her 

description of Home Life in Turkey (1909), remarked that the "East has of 

late been almost emptied by the demand for [these "chevreh towels"] in 

the West.27 Constance Gary Harrison suggested to her readers in 1881 that 

they appliqu^ the embroidery on "Turkish towels, so much used now for 

tidies" onto maroon plush or sage-green velvet as an inexpensive way to 

make mantel lambrequins. ^^ Although she herself was a member of the 

Upper Glass, Harrison wrote for poorer women. She offered suggestions 

on how her readers could earn money and decorate their own homes in 

inexpensive ways. The towels which Harrison suggested could be made 

into lambrequins were available in nearly every mail order catalogue at 

the turn of the century. Bloomingdales offered, "striped Turkish towels, 

VERY GHEAP" for seventeen cents each in the summer of 1891.29 Sears, 

Roebuck continued to offer Turkish towels well into the 1940s, though 

they removed the sdmitar-wielding, beturbaned man in figure 2.9 from 

26 Boulden: 107. 

27 Garnett: 275. 

28 Constance Gary Harrison. Woman's Handiwork in Modem Homes . New York: Charles 
Scribner's Sons, 1881: 203. 

29 Bloomingdale Brothers. Illustrated Fashion Catalogue. Spring and Summer 1891 . New 
York: Bloomingdales Brothers, 1891: 84. 


the advertisement after 1902. Expensive towels continue to be advertised 

as "Turkish" in contemporary catalogues of luxury household linens, 
whether or not these towels were actually imported from Turkey. 

Although less pervasive in American homes than the Turkish 
towel, the "Turkish bath," a type of portable sauna also appeared in 
American homes in the early decades of the 20th century. Sears, Roebuck 
advertised "What a Turkish Bath Will Do For You" in its 1915 catalogue, 
maintaining that "a Turkish bath, taken just before retiring opens the 
pores of the skin, thereby aiding elimination. There is nothing that will 
produce a clean healthy body as will a hot Turkish bath" (see figure 2.10).30 
These portable screens promised to sweat dirt out of the pores and aid 

The appearance of this appliance in the Sears Catalogue cannot be 
attributed solely to Americans' fascination with the Near East. Its appeal 
to consumers was also undoubtedly related to the emerging interest in 
hygiene, spas, and assisted weight loss. Once again, Americans imposed a 
Near Eastern aura on a primarily Western object. This square box had 
little to do with the cavernous stone arched series of rooms with hot 
steam, cold water, and teams of bath attendants at the Turkish baths. The 
woman standing next to the open box in the Sears catalogue illustration 
wears a slim sarong of unknown origin. Although her dress does not 
correspond to the clothing worn by Turkish women, it is sufficiently 
foreign to evoke in the advertisement a sense of the "other". 3 1 By 

■^0 Sears. Roebuck Company Catalogue for Fall 1915, volume 131. Chicago: Sears, Roebuck 
and Company, 1915: 762. 

3 1 James Boulden wrote about this inaccurate appropriation of Eastern dress in his book. An 
American among the Orientals, published in 1855. 


ascribing the word "Turkish" to this appliance. Sears made it more 

appealing to consumers. Customers were given the privilege of feeling 
that they were expanding their horizons and knowledge of the world 
without really challenging their way of life. 

A comic strip, the Adventures of Peck's Bad Boy, published in 1908, 
parodied American's interest in the "Turkish bath." A young boy brings 
his rotund father a "Home Turkish Bath," saying, "Doc Wingert sent this 
and he says you must take a turkey bath tonight!" The entire family 
gathers around the box to admire it. Initially, Pa responds positively to his 
son's query about how it feels: "It's "out o'sight! Just fasten that hasp for 
me sose to make it feel snug! I feel like a broiled frankfurter!" The animals 
of the house are quicker to dismiss this appliance than their human 
companions. A parrot declares that it "smells like glue cooking" and the 
cat worries that "trouble is coming." Rapidly, the Turkish bath becomes 
too hot to stand and the lamp inside begins to smoke. After nearly being 
"cremated," Pa is released from the contraption and doused with water by 
his son. 

That most readers had a basic awareness of Turkish baths is implicit 
in the story line of this particular comic. Pa's misfortune comically 
criticized the introduction of these new-fangled contraptions. The cartoon 
ends with Pa swathed in bandages and lying in bed after his brief 
interaction with this marvelous new invention. The doctor in attendance 
recommends that the family "get him to perspire" in order to help him 
heal. Ironically, getting him to perspire (in order to lose weight) was 
precisely what the Turkish bath was intended to do in the first place. 

Turkish Tufting and Upholstered Seating 

Americans at the end of the nineteenth century began to ascribe the 
"Turkish" label to nearly anything that they perceived as excessive, 
luxurious, or encouraging sloth like behavior. Turkish men and women 
would have found the "Turkish" furniture in figures 2.11 to 2.13 
perplexing. Nothing even vaguely resembling these pieces would have 
been found in a nineteenth-century interior in Turkey. Steel spring 
frames made these upholstered pieces more comfortable than furniture 
previously available in the United States. Curiously, S. Karpen and 
Brothers offered a "rococo suite of parlor furniture," which was "made in 
the diamond tufted Turkish style of ... . upholstery of the finest 
workmanship. "32 In 1897, Sears, Roebuck and Company offered a 
considerably more affordable parlor suite in the Turkish style 
(see figure 2.11). 

A large "Turkish frame sofa" was exhibited at the World's 
Columbian Exposition in 1893 (see figure 2.12). Perhaps the most 
outrageous of these later manifestations of Turko-American design were 
the leather chairs with elaborate "Turkish tufting" popular in the 1910's. 
Karpen offered a "Turkish Rocker," which "belonged to the highest type of 
the Turkish design. The frame is fashioned into shape by hand and is 
made of high carbon steel wire. The upholstery is ... . perfect in every 
detail." The bottom of the frame was decorated with fringe which touched 
the floor. This rocker sold for $86 in 1906.33 An even more elaborate arm 

32 S. Karpen and Brothers. Upholstered Furniture . Chicago: S. Karpen and Brothers, 1906: 

33 ibid: 30 

chair was constructed specifically for the St. Louis World's Fair, where it 

"attracted the attention of manufacturers and craftsmen as one of the 

finest examples of American craftsmanship shown at the Fair. "34 

In 1928, Martha Van Rensselaer included an illustration of a 
similar, elaborately tufted "Turkish" leather chair in her Manual of 
Home-Making, classifying it as a "type of furniture ugly in proportion, 
erratic in line, overdecorated in finish, that should be avoided" (see figure 
2.13). 3^ Although few people would presumably disagree with Ms. Van 
Rensselaer's suggestion, her words indicated that at least a few of her 
readers still retained these chairs in their homes. Van Rensselaer hoped to 
convince these holdouts to discard them. She offered drawings of 
different "davenports," a reproduction cricket table, and a tea table as more 
appropriate household furnishings. ^^ 

The p)opularity of Turkish tufting filled many homes with 
elaborately darted furniture. Hester Poole expressed the widely held 
concern about the health risks of this type of upholstery: "Avoid 
purchasing upholstered tufted furniture. It harbors dust and disease 
germs and is out of date among people gifted with common sense .... If 
there is anything of the kind new, the bamboo or cane chairs are best. 
Stained brown, black or white, and fiiushed with a cushion, they are fit for 
any apartment. "^^ The popularity of bamboo furniture spread rapidly: for 
"chairs, divans, settees, stands and tables, cabinets, screen, the tops of chair 

34 ibid: 30. 

35 Martha Van Rensselaer, Flora Rose and Helen Canon. A Manual of Home-Making . New 
York: The Macnrvillan Company, 1928: 76. 

36 ibid: 87. 

37 Hester Poole. "Economy in Decoration." Household News, vol III (1895): 42. 


railings and dados, as a trim for light wood beds, bureaus and other 

furnishings, bamboo is superior. "38 Bamboo furniture was incorporated 
into many "Turkish" interiors and often successfully made the transition 
into the "modem" decor of American homes in the late 1930s and 1940's, 
after the cosy corners and smoking alcoves of the previous decades had 
long been abandoned. 

38 Hester Poole. "Decorative Notes." Household News, vol III (1895): 343. 



From the Turkey carpets laid across tables in eighteenth-century 
American portraits and the elaborate drapery and costumes at Paul Poiret's 
1002nd Night festivities (see figure 3.1) to the Oriental rugs which adorn 
many late twentieth-century interiors, textiles have always played a 
prominent role in the transference of Eastern culture to Western society J 
In the eighteenth century, the difficulty of manufacturing textiles made 
them highly valued items in any estate. As the textile industry became 
increasingly mechanized, textiles became less expensive. In spite of their 
increased affordability, fabrics retained some of their cultural associations 
to wealth. Middle-income Americans, who were less able to afford the 
elaborate woodworking, furniture and other permanent elements of the 
exotic Islamic style, defined their "Eastern interiors" by adorning their 
homes with inexpensive fabrics. This chapter explores the ways in which 
cosy corners, portieres, divan covers, and Oriental rugs were used in 
American homes. Through these textiles, less affluent Americans were 
able to emulate the luxurious interiors of the East. 

Cosy Comers 

Perhaps the most distinct adaptation of the "Moorish Style" in 
textiles were the Turkish cosy corners which appeared in both affluent and 

^ The Poirets hosted their "1002nd Night" festivities in 1911. The evening was widely 
regarded as the most significant fashion party of its time. Richard Martin and Harold 
Koda. Orientalism: Visions of the East in Western Dress . New York: The Metropolitan 
Museum of Art, 1995: 12. 


humble homes. Cosy corners were generally located, as their name 

implies, in the comer of a room. A low sofa or divan was often arranged 
in the comer below a tent-like draping of fabric that created a room within 
a room. John Stephenson, in Cutting and Draping: A Practical Handbook 
for Drapers, stressed that "the simple desire for its possession should be no 
excuse for its introduction in a location where coziness or even comfort 
would be an impossibility. "^ 

Hester Poole, writing in the Household News to an audience too 
poor to patronize the drapers using Stephenson's handbook, suggested 
that with "half a dozen pillows of various sizes and different colors, 
square, oblong, and round," and a divan, a resourceful housekeeper could 
"convert [a] corner into a fascinating nook, especially for the younger 
members of the family."^ By emphasizing that the children of the family 
would particularly enjoy the cosy corner, Poole successfully stripped the 
cosy comer of all of its subdued sexual innuendoes, thereby making it an 
appropriate addition to the homes of her readers. 

A. G. Morrison illustrated the cosy corner in figure 3.2 in his 
handbook for decorators and drapers. The John Curtis family added a 
considerably more modest cosy corner to their parlor in Dorchester, 
Massachusetts in 1910 and were kind enough to document both the 
"before" and "after" views of their efforts (see figures 3.3 and 3.4).'* The 
Curtis family's cosy corner, complete with wood grille above the portiere 

^ John W. Stephenson. Cutting and Draping: A Practical Handbook for Upholsterers and 

Decorators . New York: Clifford and Lawton, 1913: 93. 

3 Poole, vol III: 309. 

^ Katherine Grier. Culture and Comfort: People. Parlors and Upholstery 1850-1930 . 

Rochester, NY: The Strong Museum, 1988: 196, figures 37 and 38. 


draperies, replaced a dresser that would have been more appropriate for a 

bedroom than a parlor. 

Hester Poole included a description of a cosy corner in her 
suggestions for ornamenting a sitting room. She recommended, "in one 
corner, a triangular, low-cushioned seat, the front slightly rounded, .... 
covered with blue corduroy. Overhead it may be draped with the curtain 
material over a crane-shaped arm fastened to the wall, and looped back at 
either side, a yard from the floor, making a cosy corner. At one side of it 
place a low stand, upholding a palm or rubber-tree, or a low screen, and 
across another comer place the large table, with a low bookcase reaching 
from mantle to corner. "^ 

Poole revisited the cosy corner several months later in a section on 
decorating "the family room." Straying from a strictly Turkish motif, she 
recommended "dark-hued Japanese .... material, adorned with wavy gilt 
lines, stars, dragons or other conceptions of the curious artists of the 'Land 
of the Rising Sun'." These fabrics were, 

just suited to distinguish such a retreat from the remainder 
of the room. Should it be large, quite a section might be 
spaced off by placing a curtain pole across from side to side, 
about seven feet from the floor. From it suspend a pair of 
portieres differing in texture and material from the other 
hangings, but harmonizing in color. At pleasure they may 
hang perpendicularly or be looped at the sides. ^ 

Poole placed a small table within the folds of the portiere, next to the 

couch and illuminated the space with a modern "Moorish lantern." 

5 Hester M. Poole. "Answers to Inquirers: Cottage Decorations." Household News, vol III. 
(1895): 165. 

6 Poole, vol III: 309. 

In 1888, writing for the generally privileged readers of The 

Decorator and Furnisher, Zella Milhau asserted that "every well ordered 

home now has its den or cosey (sic) corner, a nook where my lady may sit 

and sew, or the master in slippers repose, smoke, ponder or read" (see 

figure 3.5).^ Milhau maintained that "cosy corners make a most 

comfortable addition to any room and can be arranged in various ways." 

Pen and ink illustrations of various arrangements accompany her 

descriptions of these corners. Her first example was intended for a 

bachelor's study: 

A wide bracket in the shape of a mantelshelf is fixed against 
the wall, and an ottoman placed beneath, with an easy chair 
and a small table on either side. The drapery above the 
bracket is arranged over a brass rod, an Eastern rug taking the 
place of the looking-glass .... To form a corner another 
Eastern drapery is suspended from a branch of hammered 
iron, which has a decorative lantern attached. To the right of 
the ottoman stands a statuette on pedestal against a 
background of palm fronds. ^ 

The backdrop cloth of the cosy corner was generally a plain colored fabric. 

This plain background accentuated the Nubian head, pipes, chains, 

crescent stars, "frequently displayed above the divan in a cosy corner. "9 

Mrs. Hughes, whose New York apartment was photographed by 

Joseph Byron in 1899, added a cosy corner to her predominantly French 

Empire parlor. The photograph in figure 3.6 illustrated this cosy corner, 

complete with a divan, enormous pillows, a tabouret table, a banjo, and a 

' Zella Milhau. "Home Decoration." The Decorator and Furnisher, vol xix, no. 3 (August, 

1888): 109. 

8 ibid: 112. 

^ A.G. Morrison. Drapery, Interior Decoration and Architecture: A Practical Handbook for 

the Dealer. Decorator and the Workroom . New York: T. A. Cawthra & Company, 1906: 22. 

small arsenal of Eastern weaponry. lO Mrs. Hughes presumably derived 

the composition of her cosy corner from illustrations like figure 3.7, which 

appeared in Streitenfeld's Decorator's Portfolio, published concurrently in 

New York and Berlin in 


The Islamic style in America was not defined solely by the cosy 

corner. Several other key elements of design in fabric were almost as 

synonymous with the exotic East. The portiere, perhaps the most 

ubiquitous drapery of the turn of the century, played a prominent and 

long lasting role in Americans' conception of Eastern interiors. In 1881, at 

the height of the exotic Islamic rage, Constance Cary Harrison noted that 

"there is something thoroughly Eastern in the conception of a portiere. 

The stirring of its stately drapery seems to bring to the senses a waft from 

'far Cathay.' Throughout all the glittering phantasmagoria of the Arabian 

Nights, this curtain plays an important part." 1 2 in addition to the 

associations replete in each swishing portiere, its (relative) affordability 

may account for its lengthy popularity. Harrison went on to point out 

that, "difficult as it would be for most of us to provide the house fittings 

mentioned as accompanying the portieres for the Arabian Nights, 

'columns of jasper with bases and capitals of purest gold,' 'urns of 

porphyry and carpets of cloth of gold strewn with precious stones and 

10 Joseph Byron. New York Interiors at the Turn of the Century . New York: Dover 
Publishing, 1976: figure 35. 

1 1 A. & L. Streitenfeld. The Decorator's Portfolio . New York: Hessling and Spielmeyer, 

1^ Constance Cary Harrison. Woman's Handiwork in Modem Homes . New York: Charles 
Scribner's Sons, 1881: 160. 

musk and ambergris,' there is no doubt of a [portiere's] picturesque effect 

in any home."^^ 

Many design critics emphasized that portieres were largely intended 
as a winter decoration. Hester Poole, in her description of a summer parlor 
stated that "Heavy hangings have long been shaken and packed away, and 
all the textile fabrics, such as tidies, "throws" and needless draperies 
stripped from the parlor .... To see bright, deep, brilliant colors in 
midsummer, is to feel warm whether one is or is not."^'* 

Portieres were advocated as an easy way to create a comforting space 
in which people wanted to linger. Zella Milhau described in Decorator 
and Furnisher how many "modern homes" had alcoves in the second 
floor hallway. She recommended that if this alcove were not being used 
as a supplemental bedroom, it could be converted into a cosy nook. 
Portieres could be used to "cut off the alcove from the larger apartment." 
They functioned as the transition between the more public space into this 
quiet private space, ornamented with the "Moresque lattice work, now so 
much in vogue". ^^ Constance Cary Harrison reminded her readers that, 
"the portiere should not repeat the curtains of a room .... the tint of the 
drapery in the doorway may be more vivid, or less so, than the window 
curtains. But be sure the coloring is controlled by the other decorations of 
the room." 16 

13 Harrison: 160. 

1'* Hester M. Poole. "Housekeeping: Up Stairs, Down Stairs and in my Lady's Chamber." 

Household News, vol. IV (1896): 276. 

15 Milhau: 111-112. 

16 Harrison: 120. 

Ten years after Harrison had praised the use of portieres, 

Bloomingdale's offered "Turcoman portieres" in garnet, blue, ohve, gold, 

terra-cotta or steel for $4.25 per pair.^^ Sears, Roebuck and Company first 

advertised a pair chenille portieres in their 1896 catalogue. The curtains 

offered by Sears were three yards long with "handsome wide chenille 

fringe on the top, four inches deep, with chenille tassels on the bottom" 

and cost $2.50 per pair. Imported portieres, though the catalogue does not 

specify from where they were imported, were available for $3.25 per pair. 

Only one type of portiere was illustrated in the 1897 catalogue though 

Sears offered five types. The following year. Sears added another style of 

portiere and chose to illustrate four of the varieties they offered for sale. 

The eastern ambiance of these portieres, which had only been implied in 

the 1896 catalogue, was more fully articulated in the 1897 catalogue where 

illustrations depicted a pair of tapestry curtains hanging before a room 

with a low divan (see figure 3.8). An exotic animal rug lay on the floor in 

front of the divan and a shield with two swords was displayed on the wall 

behind the divan. This and other illustrations in the catalogue specifically 

articulated the direct connection between portieres and "Eastern" interiors 

for readers who might not have otherwise been aware of this design trend. 

By 1902, Sears, Roebuck offered three pages of "wonderful values in 

chenille, tapestry, and Oriental curtains." These included "Oriental 

portieres" for $5.75 per pair, "ottoman portieres" for $4.25, and "new 

1^ Bloomingdale Brothers. Illustrated Fashion Catalogue. Spring and Summer 1891 . New 
York: Bloonungdale Brothers, 1891: 79. 

handsome 36 inch Bagdad (sic) Draperies," which sold for 15 cents per yard 

and could be constructed by the consumer (see figure 3.9). ^^ 

Portieres still maintained a prominent place in the Sears Catalogue 

of 1915. In fact, most styles offered that year were less expensive than their 

turn of the century counterparts, with prices ranging from $1.49 to $4.75. 

Although three portiere patterns were advertised in the 1929 Sears 

catalogue, their prominence as the most fashionable parlor accessory had 

waned by the 1930s. 

The pervasive use of portieres during the second half of the 

nineteenth century sparmed all classes. Even those people who were 

unable to afford the portieres sold in the Sears Catalogue were given 

guidance on how to make their own. Almon Varney published a book in 

1882 on decorating houses with limited financial resources. He advocated 

the use of portieres as an element of hospitality. "A beautiful room is far 

more beautiful when there is no square means of egress suggesting the 

unpleasant idea of departure. Where, however, the means are limited, 

one pretty portiere covering, or replacing an ugly door, or curtaining an 

outside one, gives an air of taste and elegance. "^^ Varney emphasized the 

ease with which these elements of "elegance" could be made with little 

monetary expenditure. In addition to providing the directions for creating 

inexpensive portieres, he assured his readers that their homemade efforts 

at decorating could be tasteful, as well as inexpensive. He related the story 

of a "friend [who] had a bare, cheap, new cottage. Money was not 

1^ Sears, Roebuck, and Company. Catalogue #111 . Chicago: Sears, Roebuck and Company, 
1902: 884-886. 

1^ Almon Varney. Our Homes and their Adornments . Detroit: J.C. Chilton and Company, 
1882: 259. 

abundant. Old grandmother-woven indigo-blue woolen blankets were. 

She began sewing in little figures - stars, crescents, and odd stitches in 

colored silks - and the woolen blanket became a gorgeous fabric. It was 

hung with wooden rungs on a length of gilded gas pipe midway in the 

bare hall, and your first impressions entering were of Eastern richness. "20 

Vamey went so far as to recommend that portieres be made of fabric 
that was useless for any other purpose, "though the temptation is great to 
cut up what might be turned to better account."^^ Varney suggested that 
both portieres and curtains could be made "out of old silk rag carpets, yes!, 
nothing more or less. Old silks, even soiled and faded, are cut in strips as 
for carpet and either woven with cotton warp, or better still knitted upon 
fine ivory needles in stripes and tastefully joined together. "22 

Twenty-five years after Almon Varney suggested making portieres 
out of fabric scraps, Clara Laughlin offered suggestions on how women 
could sew their own portieres. Laughlin, a leader in the emerging field of 
domestic science and an advocate for lower-middle-class women, 
published The Complete Home in 1907, which offered advice to 
housewives on the maintenance and inexpensive decoration of their 
homes. She maintained that the portieres made from "plain goods in 
dull, soft greens, blues and browns with conventional designs in applique 
or outlining, are not only inexpensive but artistic to a high degree and are 
easily fashioned by home talent. "23 

20 ibid: 260. 

21 ibid: 261. 

22 ibid: 261. 

23 Oara Laughlin, editor. The Complete Home . New York: D. Appleton & Company, 
1907: 250. 

The large Oriental textile portieres, whether purchased from a 

dealer, the Sears Catalogue, or homemade, were soon joined in American 

homes by portieres in materials even more tenuously linked to their 

Eastern design sources than the fabric portieres. Portieres made of velvet 

cord, known as "rope portieres" were added to the Sears Catalogue in 1900 

(see figure 3.10). Sears offered this sampling of alternative portieres in 

1915: "hand made leather portieres or mission draperies"; "strictly Mission 

style .... beautiful California Leather drapery"; and "a leather portiere 

specially designed to meet the demands of the modern home. "24 Sears 

also offered a red and green rope portiere for 87 cents in the Christmas 

section of the 1925 Catalogue.25 Hester Poole described several of these 

new types of portieres to her readers: 

Bamboo and bead portieres as a rule, are about three yards 
long, though some are made shorter. For five dollars one can 
be procured that is made entirely of beads, either with colored 
on a white ground or vice versaP-^ 

Clara Laughlin disapproved of these alternative portieres: "Beaded, 
bamboo, and rope affairs are neither draperies nor curtain, graceful, useful, 
nor ornamental, and care consequently not to be considered. "^"^ 

Hester Poole suggested in the Household News that her financially- 
limited readers decorate their portieres by sewing one foot of fish netting 
to the bottom of portieres and tying small silk tassels to the bottom of the 

24 Sears, Roebuck, and Company. Catalogue #131 . Chicago: Sears, Roebuck and Company, 
1915: 1017. 

25 Sears, Roebuck and Company. Catalog ue. Chicago: Sears, Roebuck and Company, 
1925: 505. 

26 Poole. "Homekeeping: Up Stairs, Down Stairs and in my Lady's Chamber." Household 
News, vol IV (1896): 276. 

27 Laughlin: 257. 

netting. The dark recesses of a room could be enlivened with "two or 

three rows of those cheap, brass sequins sold at trimming shops, [which] 

would illuminate the portiere of a dark room." She also recommended 

that "when a dark hanging is used in a dark room, it can be enlivened by 

edging the trimming with a row of small Turkish coins. "28 Poole asserted 

that many of her cost cutting measures resulted in better products than 

those available for sale, perhaps to give her readers the impression that 

through their own handiwork, they were creating more tasteful interiors. 

She maintained that "Bagdad portieres and couch covers have been so 

popular that the latter weaves are exceedingly flimsy and coarse." Sears 

Roebuck offered a wide variety of Bagdad portieres and couch covers in 

their catalogues until the mid 1930's. Poole suggested that her readers 

acquire one of these portieres and some "common narrow grey crash." By 

ripping the portiere into bands and sewing it onto "any plain coarse cotton 

or woolen stuff". . . ."[t]he stripes may then be made into beautiful borders 

for plain portieres. Although the stripes are of different colors, the effect is 

better than if the edges were all alike."29 This technique would allow a 

frugal housewife to ornament all of the doorways and windows of her 

house with the purchase of only one pair of Bagdad portieres. 

Divan and Couch Covers 

Tapestry couch covers were used to cover old and frayed couches as 

well as to augment the room's ornamental decor. Imported couch covers 

were constructed of strips of fabric in different colors, which were 

subsequently sewn together. Couch covers were initially imported from 

28 ibid: 612, 660. 

29 ibid: 613. 

the Near East but as they became harder to find, companies like John Pray, 

Bloomingdales and Sears all began offering couch covers reproduced in 

domestic mills. The domestic cover in figure 3.11 is one piece of cloth; the 

stitching along the bands was meant to imitate an imported cover which 

had been pieced together. In 1906, John H. Pray and Sons offered Artloom 

Tapestry curtains, which could also be used as couch covers, in Roman 

and Baghdad stripes for between $1.50 and $2.50 (see figure 3.12). 30 A five 

dollar reversible, "rich and heavy couch cover .... of eastern design .... is 

just the thing for a cosy corner, library, or living room .... A cover 

thrown over an old couch gives to the surroundings an air of luxury. "31 

Sears, Roebuck and Company devoted two pages of the 1915 catalogue to 

Oriental couch covers which ranged in price from $1.25 to $4.25.32 The 

Ladies Home Journal encouraged its middle-income readers to subscribe 

by offering "the pearl rug-maker" to a "club of five yearly subscribers." 

This 75 cent contraption was advertised as "the easiest and most 

economical process ever invented for making rag- and Turkish rugs, 

Ottoman and Furniture covers and Cloak trimmings. "3 3 

Oriental Rugs 

Oriental rugs were (and are) the last vestige of this style to figure 

prominently in American interiors. They were among the first objects 

imported into Europe in the 15th century. Despite the continued 

preference for imported rugs, most nineteenth-century Americans were 

30 John H. Pray. Ru g and Carpet Book, catalogue no. 31. Boston: John H. Pray and Sons 
Company, 1906: 54. 

31 Pray: 54. 

32 Sears, Roebuck and Company. Catalogue # 131 . 1915: 1017-1018. 

33 "The Pearl Rug-Maker." Ladies Home Journal. (June 1890): 33. 

unable to afford them. Consequently, machine woven rugs became quite 

popular. In 1906, John Pray and Sons offered the Waverly Wiltons in 

figure 3.13, which were based on Oriental designs and the Temple Brussels 

carpets in figure 3.14, which recall Islamic prayer rugs. 3"* 

Hester Poole reassured her readers that, "if an Oriental rug is too 
expensive, then an American Smyrna, 9x12, will be sufficiently large for a 
room 16x16."^^ Sears, Roebuck and Company, that arbiter of struggling 
middle-class taste, offered small "Smyrna Rugs" for $1.08 in their 1897 
catalogue (see figure 3.15). 36 In the event that readers did not associate 
"Smyrna" with the port in Asia Minor, the advertisement was 
accompanied by an illustration of a wise old man wearing an enormous 
fez and a Turkish vest, kneeling on the Smyrna rug in prayer.37 In a 
section devoted to the variety of reproduction Orientals, Poole offered her 
readers suggestions on the choice of colors and patterns among the 
imitation Daghestan carpeting, the Wiltons with "designs on sombre (sic) 
ground, and Moorish figures in geometrical designs," and the "medium 
dark carpetings" which mimic the "dull coloring of Turkish rugs. "38 

Poole acknowledged the debt that the Western world owed to the 
East for elevating American design standards via these imported rugs. 
She "rejoiced in the popularization of [Oriental] patterns, as they are the 

34 Pray: 3. 

35 Hester Poole. "Answers to Inquirers: Cottage Decorations." Household News, vol III. 
(1895): 164. 

3o Fred L. Israel, editor. 1897 Sears. Roebuck Catalogue . New York: Chelsea house 
Publishers, 1968. 

37 Smyrna, now Iznrvir, is a large port city on the Turkish coast, south of Istanbul. 

38 Israel: 745. 

educators for our people. "^^ A.G. Morrison shared Hester Poole's opinion 

on Oriental rugs. He believed that "the Oriental rug will give the finishing 

touch to a room, even if of American manufacture .... I believe in using 

the constructive and decorative ideas of older nations to the advancement 

of our own civilization. It will take centuries of investigation to exhaust 

the reservoirs of Oriental art.'^^^ 

Art Amateur lamented the arrival of the "British Civilizer" into 
Turkey, who brought with him a "various array of aniline 
abominations."**^ These dyes threatened to destroy the "tradition of 
Eastern carpet makers. "'*2 Americans in the post-industrial world were 
nostalgically drawn to hand-made Oriental carpets. Hester Poole asserted 
that, "no machine work can ever vie with that handwork. "'^^ Art 
Amateur maintained that "the Oriental rug [was] a product of Eastern life 
.... the religion of the people became the impulse and guiding spirit of 
the deft women's fingers, that spread the knotted mystic cover in the 
homes and shrines of the Orient.'"*'* While celebrating the handicrafts of 
what they believed to be a pre-industrial nation, Americans also celebrated 
their own advanced culture. 

Even after machine woven carpeting became available, design 
critics encouraged people to purchase an "authentic" Oriental rug. Charles 
Locke Eastlake asserted that he preferred Oriental rugs which emerged 

39 Poole, vol ni: 744. 

'*^ Morrison: 24. 

'*! "Turkey Carpets." Art Amateur, vol xiii, no. 4 (March, 1886): 90. 

42 ibid. 

'*3 Hester Poole. "Home Decoration-How to Beautify the Home-Rugs of Various Kinds." 

Household News, vol II (1894): 370. 

'^ Art Amateur, vol xxiii, no. 1 (January, 1889): 51. 

from the individual ability of the weaver, rather than the mass-produced 

oriental carpets produced by a machine.'*^ Eastlake, a prosperous and well- 
educated Englishman, distinguished the expensive (and therefore more 
stylish) hand-woven Oriental rugs from more affordable mass-produced 
rugs. Eastlake surreptitiously focused on the craftsmanship of the rugs 
rather than their prices to differentiate these rugs. The expense of hand- 
woven Oriental rugs prohibited most people from acquiring them. 
Affluent members of society, terrified of losing their positions of 
superiority, needed only to deem the most expensive versions of any 
object as the trendiest, thereby keeping the middle-class forever at bay. 

In 1881, Ella Rodman Church offered advice on how to furnish a 
home in her book of the same title. She acknowledged the basic 
connection between the Oriental rug and the exotic Islamic or Turkish 
style which emerged in American homes at the time. She discouraged the 
installation of wall to wall carpeting because the individualization of a 
carpet for a room frequently made it useless in a different space. She also 
advocated a "large square, or oblong rug, showing all around it a yard or so 
of dark polished floor. A bordering of inlaid woodwork is very pretty, and 
not much more expensive than first class Brussels carpet. Such a floor- 
covering has a sort of old-time and Eastern look about it.'"^^ A column in 
Art Amateur on "suggestions for an Oriental room" recommended that 
"if detached Persian rugs are to be used, the floor should be first covered 

^^ Charles Locke Eastlake. Hints on Household Taste, dted in Victorian Interior 

Decoration: American Interiors 1830-1900, by Gail Caskey Winkler and Roger W. Moss. 

New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1986: 153. 

^" Ella Rodman Church. How to Furnish a Home . New York: D. Appleton and Company, 


with a good Indian red matting, or if that be considered too bold, a sombre- 
colored ingrain carpet, without design, or a felt.'"*^ 

The Oriental rug was retained in many homes even after people 
had abandoned all of the other design elements discussed in this thesis. 
Ironically the first metaphor for the East to enter Western homes remains 
the oiUy vestige of this style to be found in American homes today. 
John Stephenson's Drapers' Catalogue: 1913 and 1926 

Tracking the dissemination of any style is difficult when comparing 
dated material from sources which were created for different audiences. 
An extremely fashionable text geared toward an elite audience bore little 
resemblance to the Sears Catalogue published the same year. Editions of a 
drapers' handbook published by John Stephenson in 1913 and again in 
1926, invite a unique comparison of how the "Turkish style" changed over 
the interverung years. These books were presumably intended for similar 
audiences and reflect the interests of a specific body of Americans during 
those years. 

The 1913 edition of John Stephenson's Cutting and Draping: a 
Practical Handbook included a section on "interior groupings, cosy 
corners, and wall hangings." Stephenson advised his readers that cosy 
corners were "applicable and suitable in almost every room of the house." 
He emphasized that care should be taken in placing the cosy corner in an 
appropriate space." A cosy seat should never be placed in a position where 
its presence would cause a nuisance, as its atmosphere is retiring, it should 
occupy the least conspicuous position. It is not intended as a single seat. 

^^ "The Decoration of Our Homes, vii: Suggestions for an Oriental Room," Art Amateur, vol 
xiv, no. 5 (April, 1887): 110. 

and should therefore be fairly commodious but not oppressively large.'"^^ 

Stephenson offered suggestions on the color of these cosy seats and 

included a variety of ink drawings of simple tufted seats and benches. The 

drawing with the most overt references to the East illustrated a low couch 

piled with pillows. Four swords were arranged on the wall behind the 

couch and a canopy of fabric over the couch was constructed out of "two 

scarf draperies and a pair of curtains. '"^^ Although this edition still 

retained a section on cosy corners, few of the drawings bore any 

resemblance to the elaborately draped, festooned, and armored cosy 

comers of the 1890s. 

Stephenson eliminated the entire section on wall hangings and cosy 

comers from the 1926 edition. The designs in general are much crisper and 

more modern than those in the 1913 edition. Curiously, the "Turkish 

style" resurfaced in a different section of the second addition. A bed 

canopy which had been described in the 1913 edition as a "French 

Canopy," was enlarged and labeled in the 1926 edition as a "Turkish 

Canopy .... which adapts itself very readily to the decoration of some 

simple types of beds."^^ This elaborate ornamentation with fabrics 

demanded that much of the furniture in the room be comparatively 

simple. The onion dome of the canopy and the author's residual interest 

in the Near East may have inspired the alteration of the canopy's title. 

^^ John W. Stephenson. Cutting and Draping: A Practical Handbook for Upholsterers and 

Decorators . New York: Clifford & Lawton, 1913: 93. 

49 ibid: 93, figure 136. 

^^ John W. Stephenson. Drapery Cutting and Making: A Practical Handbook for Drapery 

Workers. Upholsterers, and Interior Decorators . New York: Clifford & Lawton, 1926: 76. 

The Demise of the Cosy Corner 

By the turn of the century, weahhy and fashion-conscious 
Americans had ceased to "Islamicize" their interiors, preferring instead 
the sparser Colonial Revival and Arts and Crafts interiors featured in the 
new women's magazines like House Beautiful and House and Garden. 
These publications replaced the many out-dated and limping or defunct 
women's magazines of the nineteenth century. 

In the early years of the twentieth century, many writers on interior 
decoration were critical of the opulence of Victorian interiors. The 
lingering popularity of the cosy corner among middle-class Americans was 
perhaps best proven by frequent and vehement denouncements of it after 
the turn of the century. Critics rarely felt compelled to condemn design 
trends adopted by a minority of the population. One of the most scathing 
of these critiques appeared in The Practical Handbook of Interior 
Decoration, published in 1919. After a relatively emotionless history of 
the evolution of interior design, the authors devoted an entire chapter to 
bombasting the "Nineteenth Century Episodes and After." 

By their standards, all design for nearly a century had been 
thoroughly offensive: "After about 1830, architecture, furniture design and 
the practice of decorative furnishing slumped into a dismal vale of 
barrenness or of revolting vulgarities and simpering inanities, a 
deplorable state with almost no bright spots at all to relieve the artificiality, 
dreariness, and stupidity." After ridiculing Gothic Revival and the Empire 
Style, they tackled, "the still more atrocious whimsicalities of the 
Centennial fashion with bird-box masses and details that were a most 

unhappy medley derived from Gothic tracery, Moorish fretwork, and 

Hamburg edging. "^i The cosy corner was given individual attention later 

in the text of this roasting. In a section on "other decorative accessories 

and moveable decoration," they maintained that "this dreary period of 

progressive horrors .... reached its culmination in the Turkish cosy 

corner with all the grotesque and inappropriate accompaniments thereto 
appertaining. "52 

As the industrial revolution made a wide variety of goods more 
accessible to middle-income Americans, differentiating oneself as a 
member of the elite became more complicated. In the conclusion of The 
Practical Book of Interior Decoration, the authors betray their anxiety over 
class consciousness through their interpretation of nineteenth-century 
design failure. 

One cause, perhaps, for all the dreary, expensive banality and 
lack of either humanity or a modicum of taste was the fact 
that it was a period of preeminently material prosperity and 
rapid accumulation of wealth which brought to the fore a 
vast crowd of nouveaux riches who had neither the 
knowledge nor traditions back of them to impel them to 
better things.^^ 

The elite abandoned design styles and fashions almost as soon as they 
were adopted by Americans with more limited incomes. Industrialization 
of the textile industry allowed lower-middle and middle-income 
Americans to copy wealthy Americans more quickly than they had ever 

5 ^ Harold Donaldson Eberlein, Abbot McQure and Edward Stratton Holloway. The 
Practical Book of Interior Decoration . Philadelphia and London: J.B. Lippincott Company, 
1919: 173. 

52 ibid. 

53 ibid: 175. 

been able to do before. Loath to be mistaken for middle-class Americans, 

upper-class Americans were forced to develop new and increasingly 

complex ways to differentiate themselves. The concept of "authenticity" 

assumed an increasingly important role because of its usefulness in, often 

arbitrarily, differentiating those "in the know" from the masses. A.G. 

Morrison asked the rhetorical question, "What kind of a cosy corner can 

you get for $7.98? The first corner I ever saw, about fifteen years ago [circa 

1890], was upholstered in hair and springs and cost $60 at retail." He 

criticized the, "unscrupulous dealers who try to cheapen everything and 

thereby kill the sale of respectable stiiff."54 Asserting that the simple act of 

developing inexpensive varieties of fashionable goods would invariably 

destroy their stylishness, conveniently allowed wealthy Americans to 

dismiss more affordable mass-produced goods. 


Morrison: 22. 



The Moorish Study of Dr. Joseph Jastrow 

One of the most interesting manifestations of a Turkish interior in 
a modest American home survived until the mid 1970's in the attic of a 
house in Madison, Wisconsin. Joseph Jastrow, who was a professor of 
psychology at the University of Wisconsin, and his wife, Rachel Jastrow, 
built the four story house on Langdon Street in 1892. Jastrow and several 
assistants spent almost twenty years constructing a Moorish private study 
on the top floor of the house. Jastrow's comparatively limited financial 
situation and his identity as a recently immigrated Polish Jew denied him 
a place in the blue-blooded bastions of society. Yet, as an intellectual and a 
highly educated leader in his field, Jastrow's Moorish study differed from 
the many Turkish interiors created in American homes with purchases 
from Sears, Bloomingdales and the bazaars at the World's Columbian 
Exposition. Like Boas and Putnam, the heads of the Department of 
Ethnology and Archaeology at the World's Columbian Exposition, Jastrow 
was concerned with the accuracy of his recreated interior. He filled his 
study with "authentic" woodwork, fabrics, lamps and furniture gathered 
in the Near East. 

Joseph Jastrow had immigrated to the United States from Poland 
with his parents in 1869. His father, who was a rabbi, assumed the 
leadership of the Rodeph Shalom congregation upon his arrival in 


Philadelphia. Joseph Jastrow received both his undergraduate degree and 

master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1886, he earned 
his doctorate at Johns Hopkins University, becoming the first recipient of a 
Ph.D. in psychology from that institution. ^ 

In 1888, Jastrow married Rachel Szold, the daughter of a Baltimore 
rabbi. Together, they moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where Jastrow 
became the first professor of experimental and comparative psychology at 
the University. They remained in Wisconsin until Rachel Jastrow's death 
in 1927, when Jastrow returned to the East coast to work at the New School 
for Sodal Research in New York. He retired in 1933 and died in 1944, at 
the age of 79.2 

While in Wisconsin, the Jastrows built a comfortable and spacious 
home, which they named the Altruria, at 237 Langdon Street. They had 
initially lived in a small apartment provided by the University. They 
chose to build the house on Langdon Street because Joseph Jastrow "had a 
penchant for entertaining - both because he enjoyed it and because it was 
essential for advancement. "^ However, after living in the house for 
several years, the Jastrows determined that the house was too large for 
them. The couple chose to renovate the house into a series of apartments 
because it was "far too large for a childless couple and far too expensive to 
maintain on a professor's salary.'"* They proceeded to convert the first two 

1 Unpublished biography of Joseph Jastrow. Mss 276 in the Archives of the State 
Historical Society of Wisconsin. 

2 ibid. 

^ Alexandra Lee Levin. "U. Co-ed Finds Uncle's Moorish Den is Still Fantastic." The 
Capitol Times (Madison, Wisconsin), May 4, 1962. In File 2808, Sound and Visual Archives 
of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. 
4 ibid. 

floors into apartments for rent, reserving the third floor and the attic for 

their own use. 

Despite Jastrow's primary interest in psychology, he was also an 
amateur architect and interior designer. Jastrow recounted the process of 
the renovation in an article he wrote for House Beautiful in 1909: "A Top- 
Floor Apartment: An Amateur Adventure." Referring to himself in the 
third person as "the Professor," Jastrow asserted that he had "just enough 
skill of hand and knowledge of processes to be able to appreciate the 
possibilities of things. He also [had] some amateur notions in regard to 
matters architectural and decorative. "5 Jastrow hired a professional 
architect to ensure that his proposed changes were structurally sound, but 
designed all of the aesthetic changes to the space himself. He transformed 
the third floor into an apartment consisting of a reception room, study, 
dining room, kitchen, bathroom, and three bedrooms.^ 

Pen and ink drawings and photographs included in the article 
illustrated many of the imique additions to the apartment. Jastrow 
maintained that the candleabrum and wrought iron fixtures had 
"originally - some two hundred years ago or more - dimly illuminated 
some castle wall in the north of England."^ Each of the rooms in the 
apartment were decorated in a different style. The dining room suggested 
a seventeenth-century Dutch interior with the tiles around the fireplace 
mantle and the tiles on floor of the adjoining conservatory. The reception 

^ Joseph Jastrow. "A Tof>-Floor Apartment: An Amateur Adventure." Reprinted with 
additional illustrations from House Beautiful, August 1909: 4. In File 2808, Sound and 
Visual Archives of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. 

6 ibid: 6. 

7 ibid: 17. 

room was decorated in the French Empire Style, though, "the ceiUng is a 

soUd Japanese gilt paper-cloth. "* Jastrow regarded the fireplace in the 

study as the "center of all family and social life." He designed a mantle for 

the fireplace in the study which incorporated the panels of a Germanic 

blanket chest from 1780.9 

Jastrow only made a passing reference to the component of the 
renovation with the most lasting interest for our purposes. He stated that 
"it should be noted that the apartment has an extension in a commodious 
attic under the roof."^^ He spoke briefly about the ladder which provided 
the only access to the attic space and about the skylight in the roof which 
illuminated both the attic and the third floor passageway. The attic study 
was meant to provide a place "to which the Professor may retire when he 
desires a retreat from the life of the apartment." ii This seemingly 
straightforward description of the attic belied the wondrous alterations 
which Jastrow had undertaken in his private retreat for study and 

Further hints of the Eastern oasis in the attic were found on a 
standardized invitation to tea with the Jatrows which survives in the 
collection of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. This card, with 
blanks for the appropriate date and time, states that "a cup of tea and a 
welcome await you at The Studio." A pen and ink drawing illustrates the 
1780 chest-fireplace mantle which was ornamented with a menorah and a 

8 ibid: 13. 

9 ibid: 7,9. 

10 ibid: 23. 

11 ibid. 


fringed shawl. A steaming teapot rests on a small tabouret table, which 

stands in front of a low divan with pillows. ^^ 

Two newspaper articles from 1953 and 1954 and a series of 
photographs taken in the early 1960's document the surprisingly 
unchanged interior. The "Fabulous Secret Room" was described in 1953 as 
"one of the most beautiful and unusual rooms on this continent." ^^ 
Despite these rather hyperbolic assertions, Jastrow's private study was 
certainly one of the most elaborate exotic Islamic interiors in the United 
States to survive long after the penchant for decorating in the Moorish 
style had passed. 

The ladder to the attic from the third floor provided access to a 
hcdlway which was "six feet wide and twenty feet long, where soft lights 
glowed behind delicately carved walnut walls and pierced brass hanging 
lamps shed a soft glow on a silver ceiling painted in a blue and green 
design. "''^ All of the walls were ornamented with elaborately tooled wood 
panelling; many sections were inlaid with mother of pearl (see figures 4.1, 
4.2, and 4.3). The skylight in the hallway resembled a sunset and was 
purportedly copied from an Egyptian skylight in the collection of the 
Metropolitan Museum of Art. Electric lights behind the latticed wall- 
carvings enhanced the glow of the skylight on gray days and at night. Both 
ends of the hall were dominated by a pair of doors. In a letter written in 

^2 Invitation in File 2808, Sound and Visual Archives of the State Historical Society of 

13 "Fabulous Secret Room in Home Here." The Capitol Times. (Madison, Wisconsin), 
February 19, 1953. The Sound and Visual Archives of the State Historical Society of 
Wisconsin, folder 2808: unpaginated. 

14 ibid. 

1932, Jastrow explained that he had designed the hallway to represent the 

division between men's and women's spaces in a "Moorish house.''^^ 

Despite his desire to create the two distinct spaces implied by these doors, 

space in the attic was limited. One set of these doors was false; the other set 

opened into the main room of the floor. One wonders which space, the 

haremlik or the salemlik, Jastrow envisioned entering each time he 

passed through the doorway. 

The room beyond the doors was a square room, eighteen feet wide. 
A large dome dominated the otherwise low ceiling of the room (see figure 
4.4). The dome was painted green and blue on silver leaf like the ceiling in 
the hall, but was also ornamented with inlaid mother of pearl. Jastrow 
claimed that most of the woodwork incorporated in the interior was 
imported from Syria for an "Oriental shop" in New York City. He hired F. 
Furman Martin, a student at the University of Wisconsin, and an assistant 
to carve the additional woodwork. ^^ In her hand- written annotations to a 
published article about the renovations, Martin's daughter asserted that 
her father had carved nearly all of the woodwork in the attic himself. ^^ 

Sally Levin, Jastrow's grandniece visited the house in 1961 and 
found the "Moorish room" still largely intact. Levin took the photographs 
in figures 4.3 and 4.5 during this visit. She described the room in a letter 
to her parents: "The walls are all inlaid with mother-of-pearl in lovely 
designs, while the door is carved in elaborate detail. Behind the carved 
wood is red paper and when Mrs. Blank [the present occupant] turned on 

^^ Correspondence quoted in "Fabulous 'Secret Room' in Home Here.": unpaginated. 
^" "Fabulous 'Secret Room' in Home Here.": unpaginated. 
17 ibid. 

the lights behind the panel, it glowed throught the interstices in the 

wood. "18 A professor from Baghdad visited the house in 1961 with Sally 

Levin. The professor was able to read many of the Arabic inscriptions 

painted on the hallyway ceiling and on some of the wall panelling in the 

attic study. Although the phrases were in an archaic script, the professor 

translated many of them for Levin: "Work is like a fruit .... The fruit of 

wisdom is rest the fruit of money is anxiety .... Science is like a seed."!^ 

Grille work was applied to the three windows of the main room in 
the attic to create the impression that the room had six small ogee- 
bracketed windows. Brass lamps were hung on the wall between each of 
these "windows." Many of the niches contained shelves for Jastrow's 
collection of objet d'art. Several benches lined the walls of the room, 
remiruscent of the wall divans in Turkish homes. Long couch pillows in 
blue, red and yellow striped fabric covered the benches (see figure 4.5). The 
wooden benches themselves were "ornamented with an elaborately inlaid 
floral pattern in which the flowers are of pearl or ivory and the leaves and 
stems are either silver or pewter. "20 

Jastrow designed a table reminiscent of the ubiquitous tabouret table 
for the center of the room, based on tables that he had seen in Cairo. The 
table opened to reveal inclosed seats and a dining surface. One of the walls 
of the study contained a recessed niche which resembled an altar. Jastrow 
used the exterior to store books and art objects. Alexandra Levin, Jastrow's 

1° Correspondence from Sally Levin to her parents, 1961, quoted in Lee Levin: unpaginated. 

1" Lee Levin: unpaginated. 

20 Correspondence from Sally Levin to her parents, 1961, quoted in Lee Levin: unpaginated. 


niece, explained that the altar could be opened with a crank "to reveal the 

professor's constantly used typewriter. "^i 

Jastrow intended for the study in the attic to be a quiet work space 
for himself as well as a place to display some of the objects that he had 
collected around the world. In addition to the objects that Jastrow had 
acquired on his own journeys, he enlisted the help of his brother-in-law, 
Louis Levin. In 1915, Levin travelled to Palestine with a food supply boat 
to support people empoverished during the Second World War.22 / 

Jastrow wrote Levin on March 3, 1915, expressing his best wishes for the 
journey, but articulating in great detail the specific design elements he 
hoped that his brother-in-law could acquire for him while there: 

What I need most of all is tiles; and if you get old ones you are safe. 

They will be dominantly in blues, relieved by turquoise shades; 

yellows may enter but sparingly. I doubt whether you will find any 

reds in them; at all events they should be avoided. The real 

Damascus antiques reflect the Persian and Rhodesian patterns. 

These are dear and rare, and I do not hope for them. You may find 

one or two at a bargain probably broken but if not too seriously, still 

valauable (sic) Provided the colors are as in the old, I would take 

the new. Large, bold designs should be avoided. Delicate, small / 

ones simple rather than intricate are desired. "^^ 

He requested about 150 tiles for a total of between $15 to $30. Desiring to 

take advantage of the difficult financial situation of the area during the 

war, Jastrow pointed out that "there is really very little demand for this 

sort of thing and money is scarce. So there is really a chance for a great find 

.... You will doubtless meet some one who will have to take a week and 

2^ Lee Levin: unpaginated. 

22 ibid. 

23 Correspondence from Joseph Jastrow to Louis Levin, March 3, 1915. In File 2808, Sound 
and Visual Archives of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. 

use up a Koran of argument in getting them, but such is Ufe for a long- 
lived people. "2"* After more discussion of the types of tile patterns he 
sought, Jastrow concluded the letter with a different request. "I don't want 
any knickknacks but good old big (not too big) things for little money. My 
room is dominantly Moorish; but that tradition goes back to Damascus, so 
that you tap it at its source."25 He justified the introduction of inaccurate 
objects from Damascus into his Moorish interior by stressing Moorish 
culture's origins in the Middle East. Although it is unknown whether 
Levin was able to acquire any tiles or other ornamental features for 
Jastrow's attic on his journey, this letter articulated Jastrow's concern for 
some measure of "authenticity" in the interior he was constructing in 

The Jastrows apparently did not regularly entertain in this space. 
However, they did provide private viewings for several well known 
artists, including Albert Herter (1871-1950) and Edward Blashfield (1863- 
1942), prominent muralists, and the architect, Ralph Adams Cram (1848- 
1936). Cram was presumably intrigued by the interior. More than twenty- 
five years before his visit to Jastrow's retreat, he published an article on "A 
Smoking Alcove" in The Decorator and Furnisher. Despite Cram's 
general aversion to the "system of decorating a room in some particular 
style," he conceeded that "giving a distinct Oriental character to this 
alcove" was only a "superficial" sin, "[so] long as the character of the 
nineteenth century is preserved. "26 Cram asserted that the Near Eastern 

24 ibid. 

25 ibid. 

26 Ralph A. Cram. "A Smoking Alcove." The Decorator and Furnisher, 

style was ideal for a smoking room because, "one always associates 

Orientalism with a luxurious smoke and because an Oriental atmosphere 

is the most conducive to rest and drowsiness. "^^ 

Like Frederick Church, Jay Govild, and Frederick Lauterbach, the 
Jastrows incorporated elaborate elements of the exotic Islamic style in their 
home at the turn of the century.28 Although the Jastrows were quite well 
educated and were prominent members of the University community, 
they were firmly entrenched in the upper echelons of the intellectual 
Middle Class in the United States. Madison, Wisconsin was only 
emerging as a Midwest center of culture during the Jastrow's occupation. 

Rachel Jastrow, like her husband, moved in the intellectual circles 
of Madison. Although some socially prominent women participated in 
the women's suffrage movement, it was primarily orchestrated and fueled 
by white middle-class women, aspiring to increased power and mobility 
for women in the American social hierarchy. Rachel Jastrow annotated a 
photograph taken in 1915 of herself in an open auto with a "Vote for 
Women" banner draped across the back with these words: "this happened 
last Spring. I promise not to do it again altho (sic) matters are getting 
lively out here and great pressure is brought to bear!"29 

vol. viii, no. 3 (June 1886): 78. 

27 ibid. 

28 The Moorish Hall at Jay Gould's Manhattan home was highlighted in an article in The 
Decorator and Furnisher in July, 1883. Joseph Byron photographed the "Islamic" hall in 
Edward Lauterbach's house at 2 East 78th Street in 1899. In New York Interiors at the Turn 
of the Century . Text by Clay Lancaster. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1976. 

29 Loose photograph of Rachel Szold Jastrow, 1915. File 2808 in the Photoarchives of the 
State Historical Society of Wisconsin. 


Financially, professionally, and socially, the Jastrows were members 

of the Middle Class. Yet, they were members of the intellectual elite of the 
United States. They also vacationed in Bar Harbor, Maine, the summer 
residence of some of the leading families of the nation. The Jastrows 
rented an old farm house from Mrs. J. Pierpont Morgan on Mt. Desert 
Island in Bar Harbor during the summers of 1924 and 1925. Jastrow 
converted the barn on the property into a second "Moorish fantasy," 
though this barn was destroyed by fire during the 1940s.30 Their desire to 
rent property during the summer on an island frequented by many of the 
wealthiest families in America further supports the assertion that the 
Jastrows were responding to the tastes of the elite in nearly every aspect of 
their lives. 

The Jastrows' adaptation of the attic in the house in Madison, 
Wisconsin was a direct attempt to create a leisured space or at least the 
impression of leisure within their largely regulated lifestyle. Jastrow's 
interest in creating an accurate Moorish interior is both a funtion of his 
role as an intellectual and his overriding Victorian concern with 
identifying design styles by their "original" sources. 

Jastrow's elaborate interior was lovingly created with the same 
intentions that had driven Frederick Church to build Olana, an intense 
interest in the Near East and a desire to illustrate one's worldliness. Art 
journals published articles in the 1880s and 1890s on interiors like 
Jastrow's study, but Jastrow did not begin work on his Eastern interior 

^^ Alexandra Lee Levin. Correspondence to the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. 
December 11, 1962. In File 2808, Sound and Visual Archives of the State Historical Society 
of Wisconsin. 

until after the 1907 renovation of the house. Over seven years later, 

Jastrow was still working on the rooms, as evidenced by the solicitation of 

his brother-in-law for imported goods. Jastrow apparently did not 

consider the room finished when he left Madison in 1927. Even when 

Jastrow began the installation in 1907, the crest of the Islamic design wave 

had already fallen. Jastrow was imitating the interior decorating trends of 

the American elite twenty years after they had abandoned these ideas in 

favor of the Arts and Crafts Movement and the Colonial Revival. 

Although the product of Jastrow's labor resembled the opulent interiors of 

the 1880s more closely than the middle-income manifestations of the 

Turkish style, the construction of this interior in the first quarter of the 

twentieth century warranted its inclusion in this thesis. 


This thesis has attempted to illustrate the lengthy and widespread 
popularity of the Turkish style among middle-income American families 
in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Smoking rooms and 
cosy corners were the most common elements of the Turkish style in 
American homes. They also represent the most prominent elements in 
the American public's imagination of life in Turkey: the salemlik and the 
haremlik, the segregated spaces in Turkish homes. Smoking rooms 
became an American salemlik and cosy corners became an American 
haremlik. Western men were forbidden to enter the harems of the East, 
but they could sit on divans in cosy comers in their own homes in Buffalo 
or San Francisco or Philadelphia. These cosy comers represented the 
exotic, impenetrable Eastern spaces, and their (more) accessible wives 
represented the completely inaccessible odalisques of the harem. By 
replicating these themes in their own homes, Americans could experience 
places that they would never be able to visit. 

Lucy Gamett approved of the appropriation of Eastern design ideals 
for use in Western interiors. She explained that "native costume and 
native furniture, no less than native architecture and art, however rich 
and varied in colour and material, never offend a cultured eye when used 
in accordance with time honored customs, as evidenced by our 
appreciation of Oriental embroideries, carpets, and textile fabrics 
generally."! In other words, European and American incorporation of 

1 Gamett: 264. 

Eastern textiles in their homes was perfectly tasteful. Although Americans 

were comfortable utilizing other cultures' designs in their own interiors, 

many disapproved of Eastern interiors which incorporated elements of 

Western design- Garnett wrote about the tasteless and unfortunate 

manner in which Turks were marring the interiors of their homes by 

incorporating Western design elements. She described American 

stovepipes in a Turkish interior as "unsightly." 

Gamett did not credit the Eastern eye with the same ability for 

tasteful incorporation of Western crafts, ridiculing the Turkish home 

where, "crimson is trimmed with scarlet, and pink with violet; shabby 

chintz hangs side by side a rug "made in Germany," and representing a 

dog or a lion, [that] is spread side by side with a silken carpet of almost 

priceless value. "^ Garnett implied with these words that Turkish homes 

often contained what she, with her Western artistic sensibility, would 

deem a "priceless" rug. She believed that the Turkish families who 

owned them were unable to recognize the beauty of these objects because 

the "priceless pieces" were such a part of their cultural tradition. Garnett 

asserted that when Turks purchased Western goods they chose the least 

tasteful objects and used them inappropriately (from a Western 

perspective.) According to this biased theory, the ancient cultural tradition 

of the Turkish people bequeathed them with beautiful objects 

automatically, but if they were forced to choose new and non-traditional 

types of goods, their lack of iriherent "taste" was apparent. Garnett 

maintained that this lack of taste was also visible among Turkish women 

2 Gamett; 265. 

who abandoned their traditional clothing for "what are too often 

ludicrous and lamentable travesties of Parisian fashions. "3 

"The eternal East" was prohibited from adopting elements of 

modem society or resembling anything but the fairy tale lands of the 

Arabian Nights. This fabricated image of the East was more appealing to 

readers and visitors alike than the reality of life in the East. In 1836, 

Francis Herve traveled to Constantinople by boat. While approaching the 

dty at night, Herve watched as parts of the city were engulfed in flames. 

He described the sight as "sublime" and "magnificent" and hypothesized 

that it was "like some vision in the Arabian Nights' entertainment." 

However, after the boat docked and Herve disembarked, his perception of 

the dty took a turn for the worse. He was horrified by the smells, the dirt, 

and the crowded streets. Herve's image of Constantinople, gleaned from 

many of the travelogues and fictional accovmts of the city, was 

irrecondlable with the realities of Constantinople and the East in general."* 

Herve recounted with a bit of jealousy the story of a man who prevented 

this rude awakening to the true East by remaining on the ship which had 

brought him to Constantinople. He was thoroughly, "enchanted by the 

silhouette," but remained on the ship, "for fear a view of the interior 

should dissolve the charm. "^ 

By remaining in an imchanging, languorous, and decaying state, the 

East assured Westerners of how far they themselves had advanced. If 

Turks adopted Western modes of dress, interior design, or cultural 

3 Garnett: 279. 

"* Reinhold Schiffer. Turkey Romanticized: Images of the Turks in Early 19th Century English Travel 
Literature. Materialia Turcica, Beihaft 5. Bochum: Studienverlag Dr. N. Brockmeyer, 1982: 1. 

5 ibid: 3. 

patterns too fully, they threatened to undermine the clarity of European 

dominance. By incorporating Eastern elements into their own homes 

without "becoming" Eastern, Americans asserted their taste and 

superiority. Americans who included Turkish interiors in their homes 

created their own image of the East. The presence of these Turkish, 

Islamic, or Moorish interiors has always been acknolwdged. However, the 

continued incorporation of these motifs in the first quarter of the 

twentieth century has been largely overlooked. The vast majority of 

people who put cosy comers in their parlors and added smoking dens to 

their stair alcoves had never visited the Middle East, but through these 

interior decorations they demonstrated their education and awareness of 

the expansion of Western influence around the world. 


Figure 1.1 John Frederick Lewis, The Siesta, 1876 
The Tate Gallery, London (From Verrier, The Orientalists, plate 31 

Figure 1.2 Moorish Women taking a Walk 
(From Alloula. The Colonial Harem. 8) 


Figure 13 Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. Odaliscjue, 1864 

Musee Bonnat, Bayonne. Study for The Turkish Bath 

(From JuUian, The Orientalists: European Paintings of Eastern Scenes. 77) 


Figure 1.4 Women (young girls) at Home 
(From Alloula, The Colonial Harem, 20) 


Figure 1.5 Fenune Arabe dans son Interieur 
(From Alloula, The Colonial Harem. 69) 


Hi2. - SCI;NI-.S CI TVI'I N - Icm.nt A,*l,r av.c U- Vachmak. 

Figure 1.6 Arabian Woman with the Yachmak 
(From Alloula, The Colonial Harem. 126) 


Figure 1.7 The Central Basin at the World's Columbian Exposition 
(From Shepp, Shepp's World's Fair Photographed. 23) 

Figxire 1.9 The Turkish Building at the World's Columbian ExposiHon 
(From Shepp, Shepp's World's Fair Photographed. 483) 




























O CJ U UJ u. Li. 

o X n_N__i_H s V M 1 1 


Figure 1.10 The Midway, Looking East from the Ferris Wheel 
(From Arnold, Official Vies of the World's Columbian Exposition, plate 98) 

Figure 1.11 The Turkish Bazaar at the World's Columbian Exposition 
(From Arnold, Official Views of the World's Columbian Exposition. platel04) 


Figure 1.12 Elia Souhami Sadullah's Concession at the Turkish Bazaar 
(From Arnold, Official Vies of the World's Columbian Exposition, plate 102) 

Figure 1.13 The "Streets of Cairo" at the World's Columbian Exposition 
(From Smith, Pictorial Album and History of the World's Fair and Midway, unpaginated) 


Figure 1.14 Daily Wedding Procession on the "Streets of Cairo 

at the World's Columbian Exposition 

(From Shepp, Shepp's World's Fair Photographed. 509) 


Figure 1.15 The Ottoman Hippodrome at the World's Columbian Exposition 
(From Arnold, Official Views of the World' Columbian Exposition, plate 113) 

Figure 1.16 Turkish Guard in Customary Pose at the World's Columbian Exposition 
(From Brown, Contesting Imag es. 410) 


Figure 2.1 Turkish Lounge, ca. 1910 
(From Grier, Culture & Comfort: People. Parlors and Upholstery 1850-1930, plate 19) 

Prtc« »»< 

Our 49-Cent HasaocKi 

The lllustrmtlun r«pr««4>otk 
liriliuirrataad uicxl •tj'U'k' 

• rlct*^*l sliiiEx- b:LvHH:k In <>aV 
olltH'tl,>n SlrF. 12il« lnct>e>. 

Iii>-h>vi lilfli. Covrrad with 
. lio.U 'luallty of Urustsit 

• rpot 

No. STCIOOO I'rlc* . «»e 

mcr «>lt«jf«. Top coronal wiih 
•alln iirlnird »<.;our. or «lUi 
\N llton vclvi-l c«rp«(. 

No. S7C1USI »U«*ot tO[>, It 
Int-hi-4 In diameter; belcbt 10 
liiibM. rrlce . aLus 

No.31C108a .'<lie of top ij^ 
Inch..-! In <llauiol«r: lu'litlit. ll't 
Incliei. Prl 

1 l.on... rv-n-t },V. \ _r". r 
.-..niblnull..,, I.»^*. !.». 

I'rlit. m.-h. .•■•VI r.-.l »ll!, Ilru 
;■•■ .ITCH Oil l'..«rr<..l nllli,„ltl,,..,„^| h; 

Our Parlor Stool or t 

Csn ttlBn Ik. u<ril fur clilL.I 

. 3:ci I i:i Th<-<« itor.u 

Mr.of ll.,l,.,„|^„„, „,l,.,, , ,^,, ,„,„ |,g. ,|„,,l„.l In ^ 
.hU dur.W..nd ..rn.m„.,.l ^"1.1 br....... "^ Thoy .III cir- | 

", • " '"■•">-"^l "Uh.-. ulnlr u.aWoi.n ..n;»n.cnl fur I 
»uner,.r <,,,.,my ,.f \vil,„„ a„y iC„u»„. Tl.. y ar* c-,.ero.M 
lu . 1 T'v'"''-"^""^'"'- ""•' '-i"« «ri.rl only, .nd 

Ko.STClnsS Price 7S« 

3 7CI093 Our ()rli«c<.n 
(>fl<.uinii KtM.t Kril. Comi-- lU 
I) II..-IKS nnil eti Inih.a hlib. 
Thl« U B v»ry Ix-sulirul h»Mi« 
clrrur«ll.>n. It I.. M,n>.-tliln< Ihat 
■ ■ Iv In i-v.-iv purl.. 

lb© pri.-e W >:tiujlr phenom"- 
ni.l. c.i.jllorlt.K ifio Tal-j« 
bich »■■ tilvK you In oni. i.f 
.e.»i .iTTl.-r^Mj unrt cm- ' 

In.bM hlirh. Prl.-o. 

tnodo for Uso 

Tho Star Hasaook. 

A %ery atronc And om*. 
enUI lluaock. !<lie. I3tlS 
clifi. « Incl.M hiKh. Vrlr«t 

d In urcltj 

llfnl ull.,nmi,<. 

Special Extraordinary. 

Kilra I^rK« \rl>rl 

Ilaixxk. W.'iiri. l^.l•..rlK^ 
n3t..r> of tbli Krnn.l "r •:,■ 
Inl tulnplooiu 1.*^vh1<. 
Tho dcl([n U i-iclutlTp with 
u«. !<lri> IJxIS InchM. t 


Our Hand Corpol Bob 
The »cc«iu|.«njliii; lllu«trull<i 

Figure 2JZ Hassocks and Ottomans 
(From the Sears. Roebuck and Company Catalogue. 1905. 802-3) 


Figure 2.3 Belle Fatma 
(From Alloula, The Colonial Harem. 34) 


Our C. C). I>. terms are verv liberal. Scn(li^.(Xl ¥ b 

with your ordir and wo will send this bcauti- ^ ri 

111 liall tree subject to examination. _ * f( 

Our special iiriee, each $10.0." ^ 


-^ Ir 

Our $1.70 Stand. 

A Very Stylish Ornament for any Parlor, 


The Thing 

For Flowers. 

No. 9538 The iTiinliiiior Stand which we show In 
this 11 lust rat ion Is •_>■.' iiir lies liijrli ami the top is i:i\i:i 
inches in size. The staixl is made in oak or imita- 
tion nialiocanv finish, as may bedesired. This stand 
Is unusually well made, t In- top is famy pnltern itiiU 
shape, sides are handsomely Carved auddtTi>rate<l. 

Onr .Special I'rice SI.TO 

When you see anythin« in the furniture line .\s ooon as ours 


Figure 2.4 Jardinier Stand 
(From the Sears. Robeuck and Coinpanv Catalogue. 1897. 669) 

Artistic Grilles Will Beautify Your Home 

TM€ nii»T um MAoe-ouR rneu ah just one-half rneuLAn rRicu 

Figure 2.5 "Artistic Grilles" in the Sears, Catalogue, 1910 
(From Winkler and Moss, Victorian Interior Decoration, 215) 


Figure 2.6 Alcove showing grilles in doorway and window 
(Fron\ Jacobs, Practical Handbook on Cutting Drapery. 79) 


Figure 2.7 (American) Turkish Water Pipe, 1902 
(From the Sears. Roebuck and Company catalogue, 1902, 702) 


Figure 2.8 Left: American lounging coat, late 1840's 

Right: American smoking jacket, 1860-1880 

(From Marbn and Koda, Orientalism: Visions of the East in Western Dress. 44) 


at a vory Idw prli-«. 

E.>'-li SO.!* 

I'ricpp. id.izen. 1.0* 

No. 2320U ExtM 

flue Elan* lotrcl: saiM 

iis preifdiiie iiumbar: 

made of pure linen: 

Pric- carlr . SO.!* 


IiIh ROaHOIl. 

Hi lie TurkisI 



towel aft«r 
a refreak* 
InK batk. 
will pat 
d vlsrorlnto 
the akin to 
reate sack 
nw to tk« 
quite (O 
JHh Towels 
'kat>ly cheap 

li'!^P wt'Ulit and spccUilly 
g<>^d value. Price fach. Br 

1 er dozen b5c 

No. 33811 Ceil u In e 
Turkish toweI»: rream or 
unWradied: extra lieavv 
weiL-lir. Size IllxC. si,ee- 
lally good value. Prl<-.-. eaeli 

»c. Per doz 9»« 

vSu*Xcheck|:2S'j*t'= ^"^ ^^'^ FORGKT TO UKDOC* 

Figure 2.9 Turkish Towels 
(From the Sears. Roebuck and Company catalogue. 1897. 296) 


What a Turkish Bath Will, Do for Yoi 


t»<r.« . )i,r.:^V .>|m'4.i..| (n.'.!'.',' :.L""f'rri'/;,' 
i-, ■-■*' *.•'*' '''H ^« "• •■'••'' >"-^i 

^ Imperial B4th Ckbinel, J9.1S. 



Figure 2.10 Turkish Bath 
(From the Sears. Roebuck and Company catalo pnp 1915 841) 

OUR SPECIAL OFFER: ?,^^°„V?,.?,S;,°°, 

.^.'i 'i'ii'r'".'"''' "' ''";"' '•'''"' "'"' wf will, siTKl you I 
■tMlKhl (I, I,,,!. Mii.l irr..niiil iHTficlly suIl^f|;,.tVlI 
■JiiilKiuius your i.iclir, wliin ti^^.Ji [juys for Ui..- . 

IRoik.T. 1 r;,.„ts' I iisy CtlHlr. 1 |-;,rlo,- ,,r 1! 



adltri-f-Ml .■ r. «',. will !,.■ nl,-,-, I 1,, ,r , 

colors to sil.i-1 from, or if U-fl lo n-i i., mil . \. 
8t»rtT\vill in nil .-ii^.esi'ivi' you i-nlors on thi 
every ri-,,u>.-.-(. Tin- .suit. ls-|in.-lv, „,i„ 
on top unci sKlcs or bat-k and irliumcil wlUi a lii-avy Mill 1„. ,,„ ,,,„ ,„ 

1' Jilnsli iMii.l :,i,(l n.lN 
-tid flilr-'u, Iliis 

If .■iii.-liedpl 
4pii'.-i- I'lirlor Suit. 
4piiN-,- Parlor Suit. 
<pir.H. Parlor Suit. 

9«»S««5«a«»S«sa ^ ^^•°° PARLOR SUIT FOR $24 

Figure 2.11 Turkish Parlor Suite " * 

(From th e Sears. Roebuck and Company catalop^ue. 1897 884) 


Figure Z12 Turkish frame sofa, displayed at the World's Columbian Exposition 
(From Bishop and Coblentz, American Decorative Arts: 360 Years of Creative Design, 286) 

Figiu-e 2.13 Turkish leather chair, circa 1910. 
(From Van Rensselaer, Manual of Home-Making, 76) 


Figure 3.1 Madame Paul Poiret and a Guest at the Poirets' 1002 party, 1911 
(From Martin and Koda, Orientalism: Visions of the East in Western Dress. 12) 


Figure 3^ A Cosy Comer 
(From Morrison, Drapery. Interior Decoration, and Architecture, figure 16) 

Figure 3.4 Parlor in the John Curtis House, Dorchester, MA, 1910 

Following the addition of a cosy comer 

(From Grier, Culture and Comfort: People Parlors, and Upholstery 1850-1930. 196) 


Figure 3.5 A Cosy Comer 
(From Milhau, "Home Decoration," 112) 


Figure 3.6 Mrs. Hughes's Turkish Cosy Comer, New York, 1899 
(From Byron, New York Interiors at the Turn of the Century, figure 35) 


fj: o Figure 3.7 A Cosy Comer 

(From Streitenfeld, TheDecomJLpormio. 



nc; liand- 
ever know 
... 1.40 
hite Turk- 
iucy made 
cy colored 



ig knotted 




!xe Very 
ae Turk- 
It fringe un 
ids, witli 
;y and at- 
co n ter . 
retty and 
> e.xcelleni 
Ion. Size 

•.en.. 1.70 

;'/3 incii uiieni 

loiiowing colors can uo iiaa: peacock, red. Iironzc, 
olive, blue terra cotta, rose and brown. Tliis cur- 
tain Is a winner every lime at tlie price we m11 it 
Such values as tlicse are obtainable only from Sear;, 
Roebuck & Co. Each 82.90 

A $6.00 Tapestry Curtain for $3.25 

No. 2:t27i H'a 



No. 3 3 a 7 5 .V 
Rich Appearing 
Taprstry Cur- 
tain, 3 vardslonK 
and 3tS Indies 
wlile, .omes in 


handsc )me t apestry 
curtain. 3 yards 
Icneand X inches 
wide, a beautiful 
floral desi(;ii,has a 
6 Inch knotted 
fringe at the top 
and a 4 Inch fringe 
at the bottom; this 
curtain comes In 
tlie new and very 
al.leetrectsand is a' 
great big bargain 
at the price wo sell 
It. Don't p.-iy JB.OO 
I'utsend to S. li. & 
C*)., and s.ive your 
money, t'olorsare 
terra cotta, olive 
and cardinal. 
Perpalr.. S3, so 

Figure 3.8 Sears, Roebuck and Company Portieres 
(From the Sears. Roebuck and Company catalogue. 1897 ) 




Tli.K« nro tl... K-ni.l.... ILifU.! coli.ii. 
TlirJKrcllii,-.rl..,l t„o.U. 



We h.iro l..i'flit a Ir. n ir.'l lul 1. t (.. 

lli,-.lii,|<.rl..l K-. i.iiln* ll..;:.U.l [Ti.itci l.iH 

»lai.vvn:.i,„i,is,.„ ii„....:lur.^inil..>u,M)[ 

t,Ml..y I., -I. ^. hi, !i «. .■ vlll lM.Mil.>ut 
II..' I.ri.,..f II,.,. ,,r,il v-ii.. nlil.lilslw.-lvu 

(l,!.v. «,■ Mill U- ;ll.;.' to Mjpply llieMI 

1, :,-.,, ;(„l,l,:,|.,,„,l„,inr.lui,n<riy.TI,ry 
aI,•.^.^ll p.u. r/i,. UM.I if..' u,>|..-ir. vln< 
li:u>lr.illi.M Kl'.,yiU a f:,lnt l<l.-:i <.l'lhi, 
.r.llvrn-.. II.. V l.:i.-.-HlH-.1111|ful cnml.lni.- 
I..n lit cLtIu^-s hii.I nro li:in.l~, 
...rki.l ..111 111 lirli iii:il riil.rlc*. In Klilrli 
yil:. .!<■>. Inillnii :.i..l sutt (an hluvn. 
»!.%.. (.•rMn.l.;iv.. i.r>.inli„i„-e. Tl.o i-..l.,r- 
lni:»ll.;il pr,-.-:illliillie»t. tH:sulltillH!ik-il„.l 
dr.ilJ.Tl.»nr.' irivl.-s, rnK Krtvt.s f.ll.. .. 
Ciiii.l l.liic, jur.-ilulii. Inns. yiUuw. uii.J 
nlle l, Wl.llli, .14 Inches. 

No, 37R049 Price, per yjrd |5c 

Figure 3.9 Bagdad Curtains, 1902 
(From the Sears, Roebuck and Company catalogue, 886) 


Figure 3.10 Rope Portieres 
(From Winkler and Moss, Victorian Interior Decoration. 219) 

Figure 3.11 Turkish Couch Cover, circa 1910 
(From Grier, Culture and Comfort: People, Parlors and Upholstery, plate 28) 



Figure 3.12 Artloom Tapestry Curtains 
(From John Pray and Sons, Ru g and Carpet Book, catalogue #31) 


Figure 3.13 Waverly Wilton Rugs 
(From Pray, Ru g and Carpet Book, catalogue #31 ) 




A Rug with an all wool face, at a price within the reach of every purse 

-'7V.-.4 in... $1.10 

f HIFPr'M A vr» u » » w «^« » >*-••.... — 

Figure 3.14 Temple Brussels Rugs 
(From Pray, Ru g and Carpet Book, catalogue #31) 


Br raniiot be returned ir nent an ordered. 
PETS •\^'<''''''" "'" wlilth of room Id Indies: divide that 
.' ,'■"' iiruduct hy tho width of c.irpct C7 ..r aii Itu-lie.s); the 
' bivurttlK n-.iulred. Multiply the luimberof bri':i<lths hy tho 
h 111. hfs cm i-iich breadth fur possible waste In inati-hlnK), the 
liunihcr of feet rei|Ulrud. Divide that numbiT by 3 t« lltid tho 
>r borderL-d carputs must bo very exact. G1vl> iflapram of all 

edlum or bright 


et, medium or 

•ard 16c 






WD to require 

csof tliim. 
lies wide, nice 
en or yellow. 


pet, handsnmo 


•» wide, a fine 
liie variety of 


ould lIKe most 
■111 sell . 

' Matting. 

rialn strav 
Cherli Strav 

iK'bos wide. 

Smyrna Rugs. 

Tlll.s ItlO IS ONE OF 

oi:r extra special 


No. 23410 Smyrna I 
.size 1 toot Inches by 3 feet 
i^'a Indies: a good ijuallty 
rug. beautiful combination 
of colors. We liave bought 
the entire stocii of a lead- 
inff tuaDufacturer of this 
rug at a price which for the 
iiuallty of the poods was 
rldiculouMly cheap; we 
In turn olfcr It to our 
customers at a very 
slight advance and urge 
I all people In need ot'& 
rug to send In their or- 
?arly as although 
. iimtlty Is large, 
they are sure to sell rap- 
Id I v. 

Retullem would 
a»k yon ax.OO for 
a KuK like thia. 
Our iipeclal price, 
each 81.08 


So. 2 3 4 1 4 
rry Pretty 

^ards 9V|C 

Fancy Check 
) Inches whic, 
1 Straw Color 
grades made: 



No. 23416 .^ 

liought here. .- 
eomhlnatlon of colors a 
or loud about them, but 
rich and handsome. 

sizes. 1 foot JO Inches .\ 3 teet 01 , ^ 

hes X 4 feet 6 Inches, each 

at a nice little navinff If 
s of a good quallt>-, the 
l>eauilful, nothing liasliv 
gotten up that ihcy iooU 

chcs, < 

.sizes. 2 feet 21 

Slzes,2feet 6 Inches x S feci, each.... ..„„ 

Sizes, 3 feet X li feet, each .' .'. 2.90 

Sizes, 4 feet X ? feet, each 4.75 

Moquette Rugs. 

«^*«^l!ti,rfSfr elk 'Cv "eaatlful .Mo- 
■S^i<S!2%iaSHb'V ,lSi-i\, quelle Rue, has nn 

Direct ! 

Kuoda. i 
Is prepart 
thin pain 
We only 
quality d< 

( olora I 
lum light 
terns as d 

No. 234 


Price, a 

No. 234; 


No. 2341 


Ileit Qu 
No. 234: 


No. J 34: 

Per yard.. 

No. 234 
thing new, 
terns prin 
Per yard.. 

No. 2341 

Figure 3.15 Smyrna Rug, 1897 
(From the Sears. Roebuck and Company catalogue. 1897 ) 


Figure 4.1 The Entrance Hall to Joseph Jastrow's Study 

(From the Sound and Visual Archives 

of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, folder 2808) 


Figure 4.2 The Entrance Hall to Joseph Jastrow's Study 
(From "Fabulous 'Secret Room' in Home Here, unpaginated) 


Figure 4.3 The Entrance Hall to Joseph Jastrow's Study 

Taken in 1961 by Sally Levin 

(From the Sound and Visual Archives 

of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, folder 2808) 


Figure 4.4 Joseph Jastrow's Study 

(From the Sound and Visual Archives 

of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, folder 2808) 


Figure 4.5 Jubcph Jastrow's Study, circa 1961 

Photo taken by Sally Levin 

(From the Sound and Visual Archives 

of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin) 


Primary Sources 

"Another Oriental Room." The Art Amateur: A Monthly Journal Devoted 
to Cultivation of Art in the Household, vol xiv, no. 5 (April, 1887). 

Arnold, C. D. Official Views of the World's Colun^bian Exposition . 
Chicago: Press Chicago Photo-Gravure Company, 1894. 

Ashton, Carrie May. "Cosey Corners." The Decorator and Furnisher, vol. 
xix, no. 1 (October, 1891): 29. 

Barr, Robert. The Unchanging East, volumes I & II. Boston: L.C. Page and 
Company, 1900. 

Barr, William. Nooks and Corners . St. Louis: William Barr Dry Goods 
Company, 1901. 

Bloomingdale Brothers. Illustrated Fashion Catalogue, Spring and 
Summer 1891 . New York: Bloomingdale Brothers, 1891. 

Boulden, James A. P. An American among the Orientals, including an 
Audience with the Sultan and a Visit to the Interior of a Harem . 
Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blackiston, 1855. 

Buffalo Upholstering Company. Catalogue of New Goods for 1889. Trade 
catalogue. Buffalo: The Company, 1889. 

Brooklyn Furniture Company. Illustrated Catalogue . Trade Catalogue. 
Brooklyn: The Company, 1874. 

Buel, James W. The Magic City: A Massive Portfolio of Original 

Photographic Views of the Great World's Fair and its treasures of 
art, including a vivid representation of the famous Midway 
Plaisance . St. Louis: Historical Publishing Company, 1894. 

Cram, Ralph A. "Interior Decoration of City Houses: A Smoking Alcove." 
The Decorator and Furnisher, vol viii, no. 3 (June, 1886): 78-79. 

Church, Ella Rodman. How to Furnish a Home . New York: D. Appleton 
and Company, 1881. 

"The Decoration of our Homes, vii: Suggestions for an Oriental Room." 
The Art Amateur: A Monthly Journal Devoted to Cultivation of 
Art in the Household, vol xiv, no. 5 (April, 1887). 

Eberlein, Harold Donaldson, Abbott McClure and Edward Stratton 

Holloway. The Practical Book of Interior Decoration. Philadelphia: 
J.B. Lippincott Company, 1919. 

The Elements of Ornamental Design, vol 1. Scranton: Scranton 
International Textbook Company, 1901. 

"Fabulous 'Secret Room' in Home Here." The Capitol Times (Madison, 
Wisconsin) February 19, 1953. The Sound and Visual Archive at 
the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, folder 2808. 

Garnett, Lucy M. Home Life in Turkey . New York: The MacMillan 
Company, 1909. 

Greenleaf, Margaret. "The Interior Finish and Furnishings of the Small 
House, Part I" in House and Garden, vol viii, no. 3, (October, 1905): 

Hanoum, Zeyneb. A Turkish Woman's European Impressions . 
Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1913. 

Harrison, Constance Cary. Woman's Handiwork in Modern Homes . New 
York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1881. 

Haywood, Emma. "Pyrography, or Burnt-Wood Etching." The Art 

Amateur: A Monthly Journal Devoted to Cultivation of Art in the 
Household, vol 26, no. 4 (February, 1892): 69. 

Herts, Russell. The Decoration and Furnishing of Apartments . New York: 
The Knickerbocker Press, 1915. 

Interiors files in the Print and Photograph Collection at the Free Library of 

Jacob, Robert Urie. A Trip to the Orient: the Story of a Mediterranean 
Cruise . Philadelphia: John C. Winston and Company, 1907. 

Jacobs, N.W. Practical Handbook on Cutting Drapery . Minneapolis: 
Harrison & Smith, 1890. 


Jastrow, Joseph. "A Top-Floor Apartment: An Amateur Adventure." 
Reprinted with additional illustrations from House Beautiful, 
August 1909. The Sound and Visual Archives of the State 
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Anne & Jerome Fisher 


University of Pennsylvania 

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