Elaine Wormser

Photo of a young white woman in a flowered cocktail dress sitting with her hands folded and her head cocked to the side, looking towards us.
Elaine Wormser in her bedroom, Chicago, 1930. Photography by Alvina Lenke Studios. Private Collection.

Elaine Wormser (1912-2007) was the only child of Leo and Helen Wormser. Born in Chicago, she attended the Faulkner School for Girls, a private K-12 school, 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 celebrity designer Joseph Urban to produce a modern bedroom for the 17-year-old Elaine. While the room was completed in 1930, she attended junior college in Massachusetts. Upon her return from school, Elaine resumed her active social life, frequently inviting friends for tea in her new room and likely enjoying the entertainments surrounding Drake Tower. Elaine, her father wryly remarked, was “now independent and making her arrangements without consultation with her ancestors.”

In 1934, just four years after the room’s completion, Elaine’s father died. She and her mother left the penthouse in the following months, taking with them nearly everything from Elaine’s bedroom—even the wall-to-wall carpet.

Newspaper clipping reporting Elaine Wormser’s marriage to Thomas Reis, with a picture of Elaine in her wedding veil.
“Elaine Wormser Becomes Bride of Thomas Reis,” Chicago Daily Tribune, January 19, 1936, 15.

In January 1936, Elaine married Cincinnatian Thomas J. Reis in the Tower Room of the Drake Hotel. When the couple made their home in Cincinnati a month later, 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.