Looking for a deeper dive into history on your virtual field trip? Körner’s Folly is home to hundreds of Jule Körner’s original furnishings, paintings, and objects. We are fortunate that Jule designed the Folly’s furnishings on such a grand scale — without the benefit of their sheer size, many pieces might have been lost to time during the house’s many repurposes and various occupants — that most of the large pieces of furniture are too big to remove from the house! Today, an estimated 90% of the furnishings in the house are original, and add to our understanding of Jule’s design process, aesthetic, and the needs and wants of the typical upper-middle-class Victorian estate.
The Körner’s Folly Foundation collects, preserves, and interprets artifacts and materials pertaining to Körner’s Folly, the Körner family, and Kernersville’s history for visitors to understand and appreciate today’s town through a knowledge of its past through exhibits, interpretive rooms, and educational programs.
Here we will spotlight a wide variety of items in our historical collection, from the mundane to the extravagant. We believe each object shapes our understanding of what it was like to live in the Piedmont of North Carolina during the Victorian Era.
Dore’s Seersucker Dress
This beautiful seersucker and lace dress belonged to Dore Körner (1889-1980). The Southern fabric originated in 1907 when a New Orleans merchant set out to design a lighter-weight suit that could withstand the summer heat, humidity, and sweat. The blue and white fabric was born, named “Seersucker” from the Persian for “milk and sugar” in homage to its textured weave.
Ca. 1860’s Cherry Pitter
This 1860’s cast-iron cherry pitter was used in the Kitchen at Körner’s Folly. Aunt Dealy probably relied on this useful tool to help her create one of her signature dishes, a good old-fashioned cherry pie.
During the period between 1840 and 1870, the Industrial Revolution brought about many changes to kitchens. Foundries began making standardized stoves and hearths that made heating and cooking inside easier and safer. Smaller cast-iron implements were also patented and mass-produced, including cherry pitters, apple peelers, lemon juicers, sausage makers, pea shellers, nut crackers, and more. These tools greatly reduced the need for human workers in the kitchen, and because of this, were sometimes themselves referred to as “servants.”
Butterfly Calling Card Receiver
This butterfly-shaped calling card receiver was made around 1900 out of cast brass. It originally featured colorful enamel as decoration and was made in the Art Nouveau style.
Art Nouveau is French for “new art”, and was a result of a philosophy that merged nature with design. This decorative style became popular in America between 1890 and 1910, and featured curving lines, organic shapes, animals, plants.
The Körner family would have used this butterfly receiver to store cards, letters, or other correspondence. Calling cards in this time period were way of communicating, to express appreciation, offer condolences, or simply to say hello. If the recipient was not home or not receiving visitors, a servant would accept a calling card, placing it in a tray in the foyer. A tray full of calling cards was the Victorian era’s social media, a way to display who was in one’s social circle. Frequently, the cards of the wealthiest or most influential people were left at the top of the stack to impress other visitors. Calling cards and business cards worked in a very similar fashion.
Jule (J. Gilmer) Körner had his own business card, listing him as Manager of the Reuben Rink Decorating and House Furnishing Company, offering “Fine Wall Papers, Frescoing, Wall Decorations of Every Description. Carpets, Curtains, Fine Grades of Furniture, Grills, Mantels, Tiles, Etc.” His company’s motto is also listed” “Everything to Match the Decorations”.
This sofa designed by Jule Körner takes the serpentine form of three chairs joined together. Popular during the Victorian era, this kind of piece is known by several other names, including courting chair, vis-à-vis, or gossip couch, and was perfect for more private discussion. Developed in France in the 1800s, conversation chairs were usually upholstered using the spring-coil technique, an invention of the time that allowed for greater comfort.
Jule’s particular design followed inspiration from France, with gold brocade fabric and trim to match the elegant Reception Room decor and round settee he also designed. Providing the appearance of modesty with a barrier between seats while encouraging young people to speak intimately, conversation chairs were typical of the rigid, yet sometimes subtly suggestive, norms of Victorian courtship.