Wellington B. Huffaker (1829 - 1873)Wellington Huffaker was born in Morgan County in 1829 and was raised on the family farm. He attended a local school. When he was about twenty, he heard about the Gold Rush in California and left to become one of the Forty-niners. After spending one year in California, mostly hauling freight, he returned home via the Isthmus of Panama, the Gulf of Mexico, and New Orleans— without a fortune in gold.
Huffaker settled in Sangamon County, near New Berlin, where he bought a 160 acre farm for twelve dollars. In 1853, Huffaker married Lucinda Meacham (1838-1882). The couple had four children: George (b. 1854), Elizabeth (b.1859), Francis (b. 1865), and Louisa (b. 1868).
Huffaker's farm prospered, and by 1858 he owned 2,066 acres. From 1859 to 1865, he hired contractor Ernst Gehlmann and architect Elijah E. Myers to build a new residence "Fancy Point." It would be one of the largest homes in Sangamon County. Myers entered his Italianate design for this house into a design competition at the 1865 Paris Exhibition in France and won a prize. The contractor used the finest materials, including marble and mahogany. He constructed the Renaissance Revival style secretary from the wood of a walnut tree that grew on the property.
The mansion had sixteen rooms, including two connecting parlors that were each about twenty-five feet long and seventeen feet wide. The private rooms for the family could be completely shut off from the public rooms. A local legend says that a team of four horses and a wagon once drove through the downstairs parlors.
How did the design and scale of the secretary reflect the status of its owner?