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1920s era black and white photograph of a man, woman, and teenage girl.

Leo, Helen and Elaine Wormser, 1926. Private Collection.



Hello, my name is Amy Dehan. I am the Curator of Decorative Arts and Design; and the curator of Unlocking an Art Deco Bedroom by Joseph Urban. I will be reading The Wormser Family section of the exhibition.

Elaine Wormser (1912–2007) was the only child of Leo and Helen Wormser. Born in Chicago, she

attended school locally and spent two years at a Swiss boarding school. In 1929, Elaine’s family moved into a lavish penthouse in the recently completed Drake Tower. That same year, the Wormsers commissioned designer Joseph Urban to create a modern bedroom for the 17-year-old Elaine. The decoration of the room was finished while she attended junior college in Massachusetts. When Elaine returned home, she would frequently invite friends for tea in her new room.

In 1934, just four years after the room’s completion, Elaine’s father died. In the following months, she and her mother left the penthouse, taking nearly everything from Elaine’s bedroom with them—even the wall-to-wall carpet. In January 1936, Elaine married Cincinnatian Thomas J. Reis. When the couple made their home in Cincinnati, Elaine’s old bedroom furnishings came with her. In 1973, she donated nearly all the remaining contents of her bedroom to the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Leo Falk Wormser (1884–1934) was a native of Chicago and a prominent figure in the city. After attending law school at Harvard and the University of Chicago, he became a successful lawyer, and was the personal attorney of Julius Rosenwald, one of the richest men in Chicago’s history. Leo maintained a civically active, cosmopolitan lifestyle. He was a trustee of numerous educational and charitable institutions—including the Museum of Science and Industry—and a leader in the local Jewish community.

Helen Goldsmith Wormser (1890–1956) grew up in Cincinnati in the predominantly Jewish neighborhood of Avondale. Her father, Aaron W. Goldsmith, was a successful attorney. In 1911, when she was 21 years old, Helen married Leo F. Wormser in a ceremony at the Sinton Hotel, one of Cincinnati’s most stylish venues. She and her husband were well known in the social and cultural circles of Chicago, where they made their home.

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