Adelaide Thorpe

"The interior decorations, which are being carried on under the direction of Miss. A.J.Thorpe, Assistant Director of Interior Decoration, will conform in general plan to the exterior coloring of the buildings, and relate as far as possible to the exhibits contained therin." C.Y. Turner, Director of Color, "The Color Scheme."

Adelaide J. Thorpe, in her mid-thirties in 1901, was a Quaker from Stanhope, New Jersey. She came to New York in the late 1880s as a talented embroiderer. When she was forced to give up embroidery because of eye strain, she shifted her career to interior decoration and design of historic costumes. By 1901, she had been C.Y. Turner's assistant for seven years.

Turner conceived of the idea of coloring the formal buildings of the Exposition which set it apart from the 1893 Exposition where all buildings were white. To extend this, Adelaide Thorpe was assigned the task of decorating the interior of the buildings, something which had never been done at any exposition or fair.

An article in the Woman's Home Companion, written by a man, commented, "When the Pan-American authorities were looking for someone to take charge of the interior decoration, and Miss Thorpe was suggested, they hesitated because they doubted a woman's ability to carry out such a work. But she was finally appointed, and now nobody has any doubts at all. She is not only an artist, she is a business woman; and when you talk to the workmen about the grounds, who ought to know, they say of anything with which she is connected, "Oh, yes, that'll be all right. Miss Thorpe's doing that."

More here on her work at the Exposition.

Nothing is known of her life after the Exposition.


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