Porter House hosts March lectures on local women

The Porter House Museum will host two lectures on the history of Decorah women in March — one about the lives of prominent women in the Broadway neighborhood and one about local women’s work for public good. Each lecture will be co-presented by local historian Elizabeth Lorentzen and David Faldet, who chairs the Porter House Museum board.

On Thursday March 14 at 6:15 p.m., and again at 7:45 p.m., Lorentzen and Faldet will present a one-hour talk, “The Women of Broadway,” about the daily lives of women in the neighborhood of the Porter House or in the acquaintance of its owners, focusing on daily routines, hired help, and social life.

“Visitors to the Porter House are understandably curious about how the house figured into the lives of the owners, their employees, or their friends,” Faldet said. “Who did the cooking and cleaning? How did they spend their days? It’s Decorah’s version of Downton Abbey.”

The presentation will look at the women of the Ellsworth, Young, and Porter families who lived in the house as well as other prominent women like Antonia Bear, Sarah Landers, Dr. Harriet Amy, and Phoebe Lincoln. It will consider whether the household run by these women had servants, kept a cow or horses, had a special reputation in the community, or if the woman had a notable trait.

On Thursday March 21 at 6:15 and again at 7:45 Lorentzen and Faldet will present a one-hour talk entitled “Women’s Work for Public Good” about the social improvements achieved by the family of Grace (Young) Porter and other leading women of the community.

Grace Porter, who came from a family of accomplished women, was a member of Monday Club and worked to get women the vote. The historic issues and institutions that benefited from women’s organizations in the county include suffrage, a women’s refuge, a public library, a hospital and a kindergarten.

The two March lectures are part of a 2024 emphasis at the Porter House Museum on Grace Porter. In addition to the lectures, Porter’s clothing, and photographs of Grace Porter will be on special display throughout the summer tour season.

The lectures are open to the public free of charge, and will be held at the Porter House Museum, 401 W. Broadway, in Decorah.

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