The Genius of a House: Grey Towers as Nineteenth-Century Stage for Twentieth-Century Conservationism

  • Iris Smith FischerEmail author


Iris Smith Fischer’s essay analyzes the intersections between the performed categories of public/civic and private/domestic. Through her examination of Grey Towers, the home and estate in Milford, Pennsylvania, established by James and Mary Pinchot in 1886, Fischer demonstrates how houses perform shifting national identities. Grey Towers provided the Pinchots with a stage for both asserting their own familial identity and negotiating their family’s place within the nation’s complicated transition to an industrial culture. Here, the home became a stage that allowed for many different dreams, some connecting the family to an ahistorical past and others aspiring toward the future. Fischer also explores the Pinchots’ personal relationship with Edwin Booth and how it may have influenced their understanding of the links between behavior, character, and aesthetics, both inside and outside the home.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of KansasLawrenceUSA

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