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History

Death Comes to the Phelps

Phelps Mansion Museum
191 Court Street
Binghamton, NY 13901
United States

Join us for an evening exploring the fascinating world of Death and Mourning in the 19th century. Discover the Victorians and Gilded Age’s attitude towards death & mourning during a special candle-lit tour. Through each room, participants will learn about the causes of death, early embalming, superstitions, funeral customs, artifacts and more from the 19th century. We will also discuss the tragic end to one of Binghamton’s richest families… The Phelps.

Mark Twain once referred to death as “the impartial friend… the immortal who treats us all alike.” For those in the late 19thcentury, this impartial friend tended to visit with staggering frequency. This caused people to develop their fair share of superstitions and collect such things as photographs of the dead and hair wreaths as Memento Mori, a reminder that our boney friend was not far behind. 

Did three knocks at the door really signal death to come?

There were certain rules and regulations for mourning that developed during this culture of death. People in mourning could not attend societal functions, and were usually isolated. Widows wore black dresses and garments for up to two years after the loss of a husband. Wreaths woven from hair of the deceased memorialized loved ones, and were often displayed in the parlor for visitors to admire. Furthermore, these hair wreaths were a way of documenting family members like a family tree.

Space is limited - visit our website to book your tickets today  www.phelpsmansion.org