As the home of one of Jackson Ward’s most prominent families, 110 ½ E. Leigh Street drew an eclectic gathering of local and national African American dignitaries. Here, in the formal social space of the house, the Walker family entertained their many illustrious guests.
The two rooms, bridged in 1922 by a pair of fluted columns, showcased the Walkers’ taste in furniture and decoration. It was a blend of classical, Victorian, and contemporary styles. The two detailed fireplaces were embellishment rather than functional necessities, as Mrs. Walker installed a central coal-furnace in 1904. Intricate steam heat radiators are visible in the corners of the parlor as in all the rooms. The parlor also showcased another technical innovation, electricity. When the Walker family moved in to the home, contractors had converted the former “gasoliers” and other gaslights into dazzling electric fixtures.
While the home was abuzz with activity, the parlors were not “play-rooms” for the four Walker grandchildren. The baby grand piano was off limits to the children except for formal lessons and recitals.
The front parlor, like many of the spaces in the house, sometimes doubled as a workspace for Mrs. Walker when diabetic paralysis limited her mobility in the last decade of her life. A homemade “rolling chair,” outfitted with a desktop and footrest, sits below a hand-tinted photograph depicting Mrs. Walker seated and writing in the same chair.