The New School Archives Digital Collections

Thedlow Inc

Corporate Body


Thedlow, which was founded in New York in 1919, was one of the "big three" design firms founded by women after World War I (the other two were Sister Parish and McMillen). "Early in this century, Elsie de Wolfe and Alice Mayhew Swift established interior design as a suitable occupation for women. Within two decades, women were playing a key role in the emerging industry. Thedlow derived its name from the first two letters in the names of its founding partners: Theresa Chalmers Baker, Edna de Frise and Charlotte (Lottie) Chalmers Handy. The "W" stood for work." Lyman Martin was the firm's chief designer. The firm closed in 1979. Although Thedlow decorated in traditional English or French styles, its interiors showed sparks of what Mr. Monkhouse called "a wonderful imagination." For instance, while Mrs. Handy was attending a concert at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, she decided cymbals would make good door handles. The designers gave advice about life style as well as decoration. Mr. Monkhouse recalled one of Mr. Martin's favorite stories, about the time he met with a client to review a design for a bedroom. "Mr. Martin said, 'Would you like a double bed or twin beds for the master bedroom?' And she said, 'Whatever you think is appropriate.' "

Related collection

Lyman Martin interior decoration work and papers

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