In a love letter from Maria Mendenhall to Carmel native William Kinzer in 1862, Mendenhall wrote: “I just want thee to brighten up & come over to our school the last day & see me blush, & stammer & yes I want to see thee there looking just thy prettiest.”
History tells us that certain human experiences transcend time – including love and the art of putting pen to paper to express terms of endearment to a loved one.
In that spirit of love and in conjunction with Valentine’s Day and the IU Health North Gallery Walk in the Carmel Arts & Design District, the Carmel Clay Historical Society has opened an exhibit called “The Art of the Love Letter.” Kicking off with a sweet opening night party from 6-9 p.m., Feb. 14 at The Depot on the Monon, the exhibit will feature more than a dozen beautifully written love letters from the collection of personal artifacts of one of Carmel’s pioneers, William Kinzer.
Kinzer grew up in a cabin on Main Street, just east of Keystone Avenue. Most of the letters were written around 1859 and the early 1860s and they offer lovers – and lovers of history – some insight into the ways we expressed our affections in another era.
“There is something special about handwriting; a hand-written letter says more than the just the words on the paper,” said Whitney Dennis, executive director of the Carmel Clay Historical Society. “The slant of the letters, the pressure of the pen, the size of each character … handwriting inserts a personal element that cannot be separated from the message on the paper.”
The exhibit, Dennis adds, “relishes in the aesthetic quality of hand-written letters, made even more beautiful by their sentimental content, and celebrates the irreplaceable love letter that, while fading in practice, still touches us in a very real way, just as it did nearly 200 years ago, right here in Carmel.”
“The Art of the Love Letter” exhibit will be displayed at The Depot on the Monon from Feb. 14 to mid-summer.
Admission is free.
“I suppose all will admit that it is time for me to marry if I ever do. But I won’t beg at any one to marry me, I have urged you further than I thought I would, I tell you I was some disappointed.” – William Kinzer wrote to Maria Mendenhall in 1862. The two were married a year later, in 1863.