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Back in the Day: Ludlow family’s Sunnyside soirées
This is the home of Willis and Lottie Ludlow home, probably taken in the mid-1910s. Many people received invitations to this beautiful 11-room home for one of the many social events held there. It might have been for a recital, a rose tea party, a dancing party, or even a beautiful wedding.

We learned a bit about the history of the former Willis and Lottie Ludlow home at 1220 2nd Street last week. Both of their obituaries referred to their home as “The Elms,” but the early newspapers referred to the home as Sunnyside. I have not yet found the reason, nor the date, when the name was changed. We are going to hear today what they did at some of those social events held at this home. I like to imagine what it was like in the day to be invited to such an elegant home. 

The first reference to any gathering at this Ludlow home was printed on March 9, 1892. “Mr. and Mrs. Will Ludlow entertained a number of their friends at cards and dancing at their elegant residence north of the city last evening.”

Two years later in October 1894, the Monroe Sentinel said, “Mrs. Will Ludlow gave an elegant lawn party last Saturday afternoon for their little daughters. Thirty guests were present and had a gay time.” At that time, they had two children, Harriet and Gertrude.

The first reference to the home being called Sunnyside was on February 15, 1899. “The ‘afternoons’ given by Mrs. Lottie Ludlow, at ‘Sunny Side’ residence last Thursday and Saturday, were very enjoyable society events of the ante-Lenten season. Mrs. Ludlow was ably assisted in entertaining by her mother, Mrs. Harriet Meeker, on Thursday afternoon. Elegant refreshments were served in courses. The usual pastime, cards, was indulged in for a couple hours. Forty guests responded to the invitations notwithstanding the mercury was 25° to 35° below. 

“On Saturday afternoon, another party was given, the invitations including about 60, which was also a very successful demonstration of Mrs. Ludlow’s ability to entertain royally. A pleasant day vouchsafed nearly the entire list of guests invited.”

Leander “Len” Duncan, who had large mining interests in Butte, Montana, was a guest of honor at a stag party at the Ludlow home in August 1901. Duncan returned to Monroe after a long absence and had been “a leading spirit among the kids of the town.”  

“Mr. Ludlow had an elaborate supper for his guests and several hours following the repast were spent in happy conversation, each one chipping in, and if they failed to mention some things they were of little consequence. As boys they spent their school days and vacations together and there was much to talk over. Some of them, perhaps, would have been just as well satisfied if the past had not been so closely searched for reminiscences but it all helped to make the best kind of time. The evening provided rare diversion and all were never so happy in recalling the events of their childhood.”

Others present were John Gettings, E. T. Gardner, Robert Miller, George Moreau, John C. Salley, Henry Ludlow, Chas. Goddard, L. A. Woodle, Chas. Everitt, Henry Van Wagenen, Frank Chenoweth, W. O. Blunt, Edgar Ludlow, Chas. B. Churchill, and Wm. Dunwiddie. Most of these were names known to those who are familiar with early Monroe families.

Mrs. Ludlow entertained 50 young ladies and gentlemen at an evening party for her daughter, Hattie, in April 1902. Their spacious, elegant home was thoroughly utilized from 8:00 to midnight. Dancing, billiards, and other amusements were enjoyed by the young people. Dainty refreshments were served and Hyde & Sickinger’s orchestra played. “Genuine hospitality of the hostesses made the event one long to be remembered by all present. It was the party of the season.”

Again in November of that year, the Ludlows entertained 100 guests at Sunnyside. Music was furnished by Hyde’s String Orchestra and the guests danced, played games, and enjoyed themselves highly. Refreshments were served by a dozen young ladies under the direction of Mrs. Mack and the hostess. The great frappe bowl was in charge of the Misses Churchill. “The night was pleasant, and, all in all, the function was a great success. ‘Mr. and Mrs. Ludlow know how to give a party’ was the verdict of all present.”

On the afternoon of July 1, 1904, Mrs. Ludlow and her sister, Harriet Meeker were entertaining 85 ladies at a rose tea at Sunnyside. In September 1905 Hattie issued invitations to a corn “huskin’” at Sunnyside on a Wednesday evening. Guests were able to meet Miss Maybelle Russell, of Lowell Massachusetts. The invitations were sent out rolled up in a corn husk.

Valentines that Willis Ludlow sent to members of the country club came back to him on the evening of February 19, 1906 when the Ludlows entertained the club at Sunnyside.  “The valentines were of the animated variety, each member faithfully representing their own valentines and the club made an interesting group. There was the hen-pecked husband and his scold of a wife, the gadding wife, the flirt, the street walker, the careless waiter who was described as a dish smasher, the race track tout, the social swell, mamma’s boy, and others, each one to the last degree looking like the valentine, and none of them were strangers, each character being recognized.”

Mrs. Ludlow entertained a company of musical friends at a recital at Sunnyside on the afternoon of August 30, 1906. Mrs. Ludlow’s sister, Mrs. C. S. Funk and her daughter, Dorothy, Hattie Ludlow, Mrs. Palmer, and Laurene Gardner contributed to the program.

One hundred forty invitations were issued for three card parties at Sunnyside given on three evenings in March 1909 with playing at 8:00. 

Evelyn Ludlow entertained 14 couples at a dancing party at Sunnyside on the evening of February 10, 1916. This was in honor of her guests, Isabelle Unman, Eleanor Farley, and Helen Horr, students at UW. The dancing programs were of white penant-shaped paper with a red “W” in one corner. Walter Miller and Roy Woodle, Jr. played piano and drums.

These were a few of the gatherings that the Ludlows held during their years in their home. At least two weddings were also held in this home — when Harriet Ludlow got married on May 22, 1914 and Evelyn Ludlow on May 25, 1920. 

— Matt Figi is a Monroe resident and a local historian. His column will appear periodically on Saturdays in the Times. He can be reached at or at 608-325-6503.