In the years following the Gold Rush, the population of Valdez dropped substantially, from about 7000 in the 1910’s to approximately 1000 in 1920. Yet Valdezans took pride in their modernity and their ability to maintain a high standard of living. Homes contained most of the amenities of houses elsewhere in the United States. The town was quick to embrace modern life, as electricity was brought into Valdez homes in the 1900’s.
A common feature in Valdez’s homes was a parlor equivalent to today’s “family room”. The new ideal of home life in the 1910’s was that of the “companionate family,” a family unit free of the boarders, lodgers and unmarried welcomed a sense of togetherness as family, friends and neighbors were invited into the home for pastimes such as cards and music.
The piano, once a Victorian symbol of gentility, remained a fixture in many homes, but the sounds of new music forms such as Ragtime and Jazz could also be played on the family phonograph. Telephones and radio allowed Valdezeans to be more connected to the rest of the world than ever before.
Though the crowded, ornate interior decorating styles of the Victorian era gave way to the clean, sleek lines of modernism by the late 1920’s, many families held onto older furnishings out of necessity or nostalgia.