It's difficult in today's fast-paced and casual society to imagine sustaining a strict litany in protocol over a lengthy period of time.
The people growing up in the Victorian era are known for observing a litany of Queen Victoria-inspired rules of etiquette and decorum. One of those facets of life, dealing with mourning traditions, can be seen at Hower House in Akron through Oct. 30.
Four rooms have been decorated with mourning items by the Hower House Artifacts Committee, said Marilyn Lown, the chair of the committee and a Munroe Falls resident. The exhibit is a tribute to Susan Youngker Hower, the wife of John Henry Hower, who built Hower House. Youngker Hower died Nov. 21, 1896 at age 75, and some rooms in the home are decorated as they most likely would have been set up for her funeral.
"The funeral was on a Monday here, at 2 p.m.," Lown said. "The funeral and the body would have probably been here," and Lown indicated the south parlor.
This year's exhibit includes:
Twin wreaths on the Hower House entryway with black cloth and white flowers, with black netting draped over the pier mirror in the foyer.
The South Parlor is a tribute to Youngker Hower, and includes an early daguerreotype of her, a floral arrangement of hydrangeas and an open family bible and two crosses. Displayed on a family kneeling bench is a photo of the former Mill and Broadway Trinity Lutheran Church where Susan was a member. Lown said that John Henry Hower was one of the founding members of the church, and initial meetings to create the church were at Hower House.
On the second floor in the Dutch Marquetry Sitting Room, is a display of mourning pictures and mementos. They include a photograph of a mother holding her deceased child on her lap, a "Forget Me Not" punched paper embroidery, and information describing the length of time a widow and widower should mourn. Mourning times varied on who had passed away, Lown said. Widowers, for example, were expected to mourn a year and a day. A widow was expected to mourn two years and a day.
The third floor Trunk Room contains several displays of mourning items that include clothing, pin boxes, calling cards, writing paper and envelopes, a hankie box, black trims for dressmaking, mourning jewelry, and information about the art of fashioning mourning keepsakes from human hair.
Hower House is at 60 Fir Hill on The University of Akron campus, and is open to the public Wednesdays through Saturdays, from noon to 3 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for senior 65 and older, and $2 for students and children. Children 6 and under are free with a paying adult. Group tours are available by appointment.
For details, call 330-972-6909 or visit www.howerhouse.org.