If she had lived in Paris, Netta Bartholomew Anderson's home would have been called a "salon." But in Rock Island, the intellectual gatherings of friends and acquaintances at her house were simply called "tea parties."|
On Jan. 15, the Rock Island Preservation Society will host a contemporary tea party at the Anderson house, 917 19th St., Rock Island, at 7 p.m. to commemorate this early Rock Island resident. Dr. Ann Boaden, professor of English at Augustana College, will portray Netta and bring her story to life.
Born in 1873, Anderson came to Rock Island with her family in 1888 when her father, Edward Bartholomew, began teaching English and philosophy at Augustana College. Anderson enrolled there in 1891 and became one of the first six female graduates of Augustana.
She challenged the predominant attitude of the day that did not value educating women when she became the first woman to speak at the all-male Adelphic literary society. She also was the first woman to speak at chapel. Anderson may well have been Augustana's first feminist.
In 1897, she wed Knute Theodore ("K.T.") Anderson, a banker. Four years later and already parents, they built their 19th Street home. Like many well educated women at the time, Anderson saw her role as more than a wife and mother. She supported a variety of civic organizations, including Bethany Home and the Rock Island Woman's Club, as she continued to work to open doors for women.
Anderson also served on the Board of Directors for Augustana College and was the first woman admitted to the reorganized Rock Island County Historical Society in 1912. Her lifelong interest in local history and women's role in that history inspired her to gather oral histories. She combined these narratives into a paper titled "Some Reminiscences of Pioneer Rock Island Women."
And she held her tea parties. The Anderson house was a perfect place to welcome neighbors and friends, and it remains one of Rock Island's outstanding Colonial Revival homes.
The formal symmetry of the Anderson house's front façade features a central gable, Palladian-influenced spiderweb window and twin attic dormers with arched windows. But it is the unique half-round two story front porch with Ionic columns and intricately turned balusters that create the impressive grandeur of the home. The clapboard siding is unusual, too, with wide and narrow boards alternating.
Inside, there's a central hallway flanked by large rooms that once bustled with activity, from birthday parties, to three-course dinners, to New Year's Eve parties for Augustana students from foreign countries.
The magnificent Anderson home, recently restored by Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation as part of the neighborhood stabilization program, is for sale and will be open for viewing as part of the RIPS tea party event. There is no charge for the evening.
For additional information on the tea party, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit RockIslandPreservation.org.
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