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A Farm Boy from Fairview Succeeds

“You can take the lad out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the man,” said the man who loved art, design, movies, dogs, palomino horses, sheep, and rich black soil. W. Edwin Fager was born in 1897 near Fairview, a very small town in Randolph County, Indiana, but spent most of his life working in Chicago or spending time at his farm near Michigan City.

W. Edwin Fager
W. Edwin Fager

Fager crafted a successful career as a fine artist and interior designer. He specialized in custom commission for lamps, tables, and other furniture. After graduating from high school, Fager started his art career as a window dresser at McNaughton’s Department Store (later Ball Stores). According to his sister, Roberta, Fager “trimmed the windows, did all the sign making, and a little bit of everything else.”

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“Calla Lily” by W. Edwin Fager

In 1925, Fager moved to Chicago to work as a lampshade designer but soon established his own interior design business. For many years, he was in demand by Hollywood to provide his originally-designed furniture and accessories for the movies. His sister especially recalled “Ed” providing furniture for the Rock Hudson and Doris Day movie Pillow Talk.

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W. Edwin Fager, his Chicago staff and a lot of dogs.

Fager continued to paint and often exhibited in the Hoosier Salon. On a Ball family note—In 1928, Fager exhibited two paintings, one of which won the Lucy Ball Owsley Award of $100. Minnetrista owns one of his paintings and several photographs of his Chicago studio. A quick internet search shows that his paintings are often available on eBay and at auction.

Another East Central Indiana person who did well.

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Fager’s Chicago Studio

minnetrista heritage collection

minnetrista collects the objects and archival material that document the people, places, events, organisations, businesses and industry of the region – in other words, the history of east central indiana.

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