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Preserving Fashion History in Cumberland County

Continuing an article from last week, two more area museums with bridal fashions are presented here.

The Millville Historical Society is headquartered at 200 E Main St. Millville in the Millville Bank building, built in 1857. Linda Hruza-Jones, vice president of the society, recently announced the acquisition of several garments with a provenance significant to the society’s area of interest. A garment now on display belonged to Rebecca Mulford Bacon (1862-1929) for whom the Rebecca Milford Bacon School on S. Third Street was named in honor of her charity work. She was the wife of George Sheppard Bacon (1865-1944). Her dress is a pale, cream colored silk chiffon gown with embroidery of white glass beads on the cuffs of long sleeves, hemline, side kick pleat and accenting the V-neckline. Mrs. Bacon was the official hostess during the inauguration for New Jersey’s 32nd governor, Edward Casper Stokes, in 1905. The dress can be seen on exhibit in the Wood Mansion House built in 1814, a property of the historical society and now on the National Register of Historic Places; it is located at 821 Columbia Avenue in Millville.

The Vineland Historical and Antiquarian Society (VHAS), founded in 1864, is the oldest, purpose built local historical society in New Jersey. “A Century of Fashion,” a curated selection of many garments and fascinating artifacts from the society’s collection, is on display until January 1, 2024. This exhibit was the centerpiece for the society’s “Afternoon Tea and Fundraiser” held recently. After an overview of the exhibit, curator Patricia A. Martinelli introduced the invited guest speaker, local collector and Regent of the Greenwich Tea Burning Chapter DAR, Valerie Kontes Baron. She appeared in a quilted, short, black cape; white ermine muff and matching stole, over a black lace and taffeta floor-length costume. Her bonnet was velvet with silk ribbons, sequins and ostrich feathers. She represented the so-called “Gay Nineties hourglass figure with leg-o-mutton sleeves” that was so fashionably popular in 1895 and during the Gilded Age in America from 1877 to 1896. Many of the attendees wore styles reminiscent of the Victorian era with millinery recalling times gone by. The event was enjoyed by a sellout crowd!

During her program, Baron commented that The Daughters of the American Revolution is a non profit, volunteer women’s service organization. The missions of the historical societies and the DAR are similar: Education, Preservation and Patriotism. Each has a goal to collect and preserve artifacts, objects and documents pertaining to their particular areas of interest and expertise. Baron expressed appreciation for the work of the volunteers at the Vineland Historical Society. For further information:

Without the dedication of volunteers the societies and museums would not achieve continued success. The Greenwich Tea Burning Chapter is pleased to give support to these institutions in Cumberland County.