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Change of Plans: Bertha and the Architect Bertha Mather critiques the work of Thomas Harlan Ellett

In 1926, Stephen Mather commissioned Thomas Harlan Ellett for a major renovation and expansion of the Homestead. 


We have a letter that Bertha sent to Ellett in July 1926, “As Father is out in the West for the summer…”  Bertha explains, “We are all pleased with your plans for the addition…” But, “The porch seems, however to be a more difficult problem…”

Bertha goes on to detail the difficulty and includes her own drawings for “what seemed the best plan to me…”


Why do we have this letter?   Ellett kept it.


 In 1947 Bertha asked the then-retired Ellett for any drawings he might still have.  He responded that he would search.  Then in a second letter, he reported that he couldn’t find any plans, but added, “I find a letter which indicates that you had pretty much designed the changes yourself!”


Thomas Harlan Ellett (1880-1951) was a noted architect with many

commissions throughout the Northeast.   Some projects include The

Wilton Public Library, The Bronx Post Office, and the Cosmopolitan Club

on East 66th Street, Manhattan.

Drawing by Bertha Mather

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