New Harmony was founded almost two hundred years ago first as a spiritual community, then as a haven for scholars, scientists, and educators whose visions of a utopian communal society gave rise to many progressive ideas and philosophies and inspired social change. We’d like to hear from all of you what your ideal vision of “Utopia” would be and why.
The Fauntleroy Home was built in c. 1815-1820 by the Harmonists. In 1841, the home was sold to Robert Henry Fauntleroy and his wife Jane Dale Owen Fauntleroy. The Fauntleroys lived in the house with their four children Constance, Ellinor, Edward and Arthur.
In 1859, the parlor of the house became the birthplace of the Minerva Society, a literary club for women that was organized by Constance Fauntleroy. The house continued to remain in the Fauntleroy family until 1925 when it was sold to the Indiana Federation of Clubs to be maintained as a shrine to the Minerva Society. Later, in 1939 the Indiana Federation of Clubs gave the house to the State of Indiana to be preserved as a historic site.
The 2007-2013 restoration involved interior and exterior work. This consisted of removing 20th century rooms, rebuilding the 19th century kitchen room, jacking up the house, repairing the foundation, repairing the siding, painting the exterior to the colors revealed in the paint analysis, repairing the chimney and fireplaces, replacing the 20th century windows with a 19th century profile, installing a new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, plastering the walls, and painting the interior based on paint analysis results. Renovations to the Fauntleroy Home were financed by Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites.
The Minerva Parlor exhibit appears as if a meeting will occur or has just occurred. While we do not know how a Minerva Society meeting was arranged, the exhibit offers visual clues to the nature of the club.
Two groups of chairs are at opposite ends of the room to illustrate that the women divided themselves and debated both sides of an issue. To show these meetings were orderly and procedural, there is also a desk covered with papers, pens, an inkwell, and gavel. This is to indicate the president would have presided over the meetings and the secretary would have taken notes.
The Minerva Parlor exhibit includes Fauntleroy artifacts previously on display, the harp, piano, paintings, settees, etc. It incorporates other artifacts such as shells, fossils, and books to demonstrate the Fauntleroys were well-traveled and cultured.