Celebrate! The Parties of El Delirio: Featuring Photos from the Santa Fe Estate of Elizabeth and Martha White, 1926–1950

Research and captions by Nancy Owen Lewis, Director of Scholar Programs

Exhibit, SAR Boardroom Hallway

Friday, March 5–Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Celebrate! The Parties of El DelirioCelebrate! The Parties of El DelirioA3. Five women, including Alice Corbin Henderson (second from left), proudly display their costumes at the swimming pool dedication, circa 1926.Celebrate! The Parties of El DelirioA3. Five women, including Alice Corbin Henderson (second from left), proudly display their costumes at the swimming pool dedication, circa 1926.Celebrate! The Parties of El DelirioCelebrate! The Parties of El DelirioA5. Friends gather around the new swimming pool at El Delirio to watch the “ritual sacrifice” of the White Sisters during the dedication ceremony, circa 1926. Celebrate! The Parties of El DelirioA5. Friends gather around the new swimming pool at El Delirio to watch the “ritual sacrifice” of the White Sisters during the dedication ceremony, circa 1926. Celebrate! The Parties of El DelirioCelebrate! The Parties of El DelirioA2. Resplendent in their long dresses and unique head gear, poet Alice Corbin Henderson (left) and A. Rossin pause for a moment during the pool dedication ceremony, circa 1926.Celebrate! The Parties of El DelirioA2. Resplendent in their long dresses and unique head gear, poet Alice Corbin Henderson (left) and A. Rossin pause for a moment during the pool dedication ceremony, circa 1926. Celebrate! The Parties of El DelirioCelebrate! The Parties of El DelirioA4. Archaeologist Sylvanus Morley poses in the unique costume created for the swimming pool dedication, circa 1926.Celebrate! The Parties of El DelirioA4. Archaeologist Sylvanus Morley poses in the unique costume created for the swimming pool dedication, circa 1926. Celebrate! The Parties of El DelirioCelebrate! The Parties of El DelirioB1. Fiesta Parade, 1932. Elizabeth White, resplendent in fiesta attire, sits astride her steed.Celebrate! The Parties of El DelirioB1. Fiesta Parade, 1932. Elizabeth White, resplendent in fiesta attire, sits astride her steed. Celebrate! The Parties of El Delirio: Featuring Photos from the Santa Fe Estate of Elizabeth and Martha White, 1926–1950Celebrate! The Parties of El Delirio: Featuring Photos from the Santa Fe Estate of Elizabeth and Martha White, 1926–1950Celebrate! The Parties of El Delirio: Featuring Photos from the Santa Fe Estate of Elizabeth and Martha White, 1926–1950 Celebrate! The Parties of El Delirio: Featuring Photos from the Santa Fe Estate of Elizabeth and Martha White, 1926–1950Celebrate! The Parties of El Delirio: Featuring Photos from the Santa Fe Estate of Elizabeth and Martha White, 1926–1950Visitors viewing the “Celebrate!” photography exhibit.Celebrate! The Parties of El Delirio: Featuring Photos from the Santa Fe Estate of Elizabeth and Martha White, 1926–1950Visitors viewing the “Celebrate!” photography exhibit. Celebrate! The Parties of El Delirio: Featuring Photos from the Santa Fe Estate of Elizabeth and Martha White, 1926–1950Celebrate! The Parties of El Delirio: Featuring Photos from the Santa Fe Estate of Elizabeth and Martha White, 1926–1950Panoramic photograph of the “Celebrate!” photography exhibit.Celebrate! The Parties of El Delirio: Featuring Photos from the Santa Fe Estate of Elizabeth and Martha White, 1926–1950Panoramic photograph of the “Celebrate!” photography exhibit.

Amelia Elizabeth White (1878–1972), daughter of newspaper publisher Horace White, grew up on the upper east side of Manhattan, studied classics at Bryn Mawr College, and made frequent trips to Europe. Her younger sister Martha, also a Bryn Mawr graduate, accompanied Elizabeth on her travels, which included a trip to Santa Fe in 1923. They fell in love with the town, purchased land, and decided to make it their home.

The White sisters became active members of their adopted community. Miss Elizabeth, in fact, played a key role in the establishment of the Old Santa Fe Association, the Laboratory of Anthropology, the Wheelwright Museum, the Garcia Street Club, and the Santa Fe Animal Shelter, all institutions that thrive today. She was an advocate of Native American art and Santa Fe style architecture, and a crusader for Indian land rights and health care.

She also gave magnificent parties, which she hosted with Martha at their marvelous estate on Garcia Street, now home to the School for Advanced Research. El Delirio or “the madness” as they called it, became the setting for lavish dinners, concerts, poetry readings, pool parties, plays, and masquerade balls. The guests included artists, writers, and archaeologists, as well as fellow “Bryn Mawrters” Margretta Dietrich and Dorothy Stewart, who lived at nearby El Zaguan. Then tragedy struck. In 1937 Martha died of cancer, and the parties came to a crashing halt. Eventually they would resume, as revealed in these photos of “The Parties of El Delirio.”

Exhibit hours: 9:00am–4:00pm. For more information call (505) 954-7200.

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