Adelaide Thomson Bergholtz originally from Philadelphia, settled in Ithaca with her husband Herman Burgholtz in 1891. Adelaide acted as treasurer for Bergholtz Realty and managed a number of properties now owned by Cornell University Her husband's business ventures saw a number of booms and busts. Herman was a Swedish electrical engineer who had worked under Thomas Edison and came to Ithaca to electrify the Ithaca Street Railroad. Later, he constructed one of the nation's first hydroelectric plants to serve the electrical needs of Ithaca and built an electric trolley for East Hill. He was elected for two terms as a Democratic Mayor of Ithaca, serving from 1930-1934.
This portrait by J. Colin Forbes, a well-established Ithaca portrait painter, shows Adelaide as a well-off late Victorian woman, dressed in a lush gown and wearing pearls. The work was well received, as testified in a note scribbled on Tompkins County Hotel letterhead by her son: Mother's portrait by Forbes was painted for Exhibition purposes and took the first prize as a fancy portrait at an exhibition in New York. 28 1/2" X 33 1/2".