From vintage wedding gowns to valentine cards
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – From carefully displayed vintage wedding gowns to whimsical valentine cards from an earlier era, the Historical Museum’s Ford-MacNichol House broke its winter hibernation for a Feb. 10 Valentine-themed open house.
Museum Director Jesse Rose said the museum is normally closed from January through March.
“Valentine’s Day is a great time to get people to come in,” he said. “We have a ton of vintage valentines that we always love to educate the public on, so we wanted to put those on display.”
Rose said that this year they also wanted to celebrate matrimony, which gave them an opportunity to showcase some of their donated clothing, which is seldom, if ever, displayed.
“We have wedding dresses and some are really historic and important to Wyandotte, so let’s put them on display,” he said.
Rose said the open house generated a great turnout.
He said they have wedding gowns from 1880 to 1980, which show trends in dress themes and designs.
Rose said it is encouraging to see special exhibits bringing visitors into the museum.
Volunteer Rebecca Pilon said open houses like the Valentine event introduce guests to more aspects of the Wyandotte Historical Museum, which, in turn, builds its support base.
She said the wedding gown display was the first the museum has staged of which she is aware.
“Some of them are so fragile that they will potentially fall apart,” Pilon said.
She said as a seamstress, she loves the wedding dress display.
Pilon, who was wearing an upper-middle class walking suit from the 1890s, said her grandmother, who was a seamstress, helped her learn how to sew.
She said she loves the overall design of period clothes, most of which are unique.
“Back then, everybody almost made all of their own clothes, so you are going to get a lot of uniqueness and a lot of blood, sweat and tears that everybody put into their own clothes,” she said.
Volunteer Becky Free, who was wearing a turn of the century gown from the late 1800s, said she loves seeing the detail in the historic dresses on display.
“So much is hand sewn,” she said. “And where did the fabric come from? Somebody asked if the ’40s dress was a parachute. Soldiers would bring them home and they would reuse that fabric.”
Free, who was dressed in clothing representative of the upper middle class, was also wearing a hat.
“The bigger the better,” she said. “They want to be noticed, they want to be seen, so the bigger the hair and the more embellishments, the better.”
Free said she was enjoying interacting with guests at the open house.
“I’m always looking for an excuse to dress up,” she said. “I try to stick to the period of whatever we are celebrating.”
Free said her favorite costume was probably the mourning attire she wears for the annual cemetery walk at Halloween time, which she said she tries to embellish with antique-era jewelry.
However, she said she has flapper attire that she is looking forward to wearing for the pie and ice cream social, which she said is a nice switch from her Victorian era costumes.
Rose said the museum reopens for tours in April, with the local artists guild show the first weekend in May, followed by the May 21 pie and ice cream social.
For more information on the Wyandotte Historical Museum, go to wyandottehistory.org.