Spanish Flu epidemic and World War I come to Tanner House Museum

Oct 19, 2022 | Press Release, Special Events

Singer-songwriter Bradley Keven Green in a 2018 performance of Death Comes to the Tanner House, set in the Civil War era.

The Aurora Historical Society takes on a terrible blend of war, sickness, and death in Death Comes to the Tanner House: 1918 over the Halloween weekend.  The dramatization, set within the 1857 Tanner House Museum, focuses on the Spanish Flu epidemic that swept the globe just as World War I was winding down and opens a window into the dilemmas facing various characters in Aurora.

Performances will be on October 28, 29, and 30 at 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 pm.   Tickets are $20 per person, or $17 per person for AHS members, and can be reserved online or by calling 630-906-0650.  The museum is located at 304 Oak Avenue, Aurora, 60506.

The Tanner House, a Victorian-era home operated as a house museum by the Aurora Historical Society, has been used as a setting for Halloween tours for the past decade, each year with a different, but historical, theme.  “We started out by walking through various rooms and explaining some of the customs and beliefs of people in the Victorian era.  But every year our audiences told us they loved it and would like to hear more, and how many times can you explain the same customs, like covering mirrors when someone has died and removing a corpse’s feet first,” said Mary Clark Ormond, president of the board of trustees.  “So we dug deeper and over the years brought in elements like the impact of the Civil War, the quackery of patent medicine, the hysteria of Spiritualism, and even the generational challenges of the arrival of flapper girls and the radio.

The 2022 version will incorporate Aurora’s mayor, the city medical director, two Aurora undertakers, W. H. Healy and John Biever, and other citizens caught in the panic and disruption of the times.  Musically, the jazz/blues funeral march, St. James Infirmary, will be presented by Aurora singer-songwriter Bradley Keven Green.

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