WellesleyWeston Magazine

SPRING 2016

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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WELLESLEY'S CLOSET WELLESLEY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 229 WASHINGTON STREET, WELLESLEY 781.235.6690 or WWW.WELLESLEYHISTORICALSOCIETY.ORG The Darcys have invited you to a gala at Pemberley. What to wear? You might try something like the circa 1800 evening gown owned by the Wellesley Historical Society, one of 1,500 items of clothing in its collection. "It's kind of like your closet at home where 10 percent of the items are men's and the other 90 percent are women's," said Kathleen Fahey, who has been the society's curator since 2010. A Jane Austen fan, Fahey said the two-century-old cream-colored garment is among her favorites. It's made of sprigged muslin in a laurel-like pattern stitched with metallic thread. "You can imagine how this would sparkle at night," she said. "This is something she would have worn in the evening to a ball." Cream colored, the dress was not for a shrinking violent. "A woman in white is going to stand out in the crowd much more than one in a darker dress," Fahey said of that pre-electric era when rooms were illuminated by candles and fireplaces. With puffed gathered sleeves, the gown has an empire waist that gathers beneath the bust. That style was inspired by the fashions of the ancient world that archaeologists of the time were just unearthing. Below the waist, the dress falls straight as if imitating a column. The dress had been worn by a member of the Fuller family of the Lower Falls area and was donated by a descendant, Elizabeth Parker Wood, in 1969. Wood said the gown was made in Paris. Her elegant ancestor would have been about 5-foot-2, Fahey estimates. Hanging on racks and packed in boxes in the society's basements are such varied garments as baby's clothes, men's waistcoats, aprons, stockings, shoes, a rawhide frontier jacket, and uniforms dating back to the Civil War. But don't bother asking to borrow an outfit for your modern-day school play or costume party. "People will call us up and say, 'Our club is celebrating its 100th year; can we wear some of your clothing?'" Fahey said. Her response: "First of all, no, because it's really fragile. But second I seriously doubt anybody today wants to wear a corset to fit into a 22-inch waist." - - ✘ - - At first glance, the seven men in the circa 1890 photo appear to be members of an emi- nent fraternal organization. Take a closer look. "They're in three-piece suits, and they've got these huge wrenches and it's against this fancy backdrop," Fahey said. "You could imagine a couple having their wedding portrait taken in front of the same background." Meet the staff of the F.H. Porter Plumbing Company, which unclogged toilets and installed heating systems during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Porter also operated a hardware store in town. The Porter photos are among 1,000 98 Buried Treasures W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s p r i n g 2 0 1 6 C O U R T E S Y O F W E L L E S L E Y H I S T O R I C A L S O C I E T Y Evening Gown from the Wellesley Historical Society Collection Made in Paris circa 1800

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