Illuminating Joseph S. Kelsey, Civil War Soldier

Posted July 1, 2014 by Vicki Masters Profitt
Categories: Civil War, Civil War Soldiers, Fairport NY, Monroe County NY, Museum, Perinton NY

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On June 17, 2014, Illuminated History held its third annual cemetery tour in which twelve actors portrayed residents of the burying ground.  The tour, which was sponsored by the Perinton Historical Society, took place at the Fairport Historical Museum due to inclement weather.  Greenvale Rural Cemetery in the village of Fairport, New York, was the focus of the tour.

In this Illuminated History series, each of the scripts of Greenvale’s featured eternal residents will be posted until all twelve have been illuminated.  Although the scripts are based on in depth historical research, some creative license may have been taken.

We begin with the life of Civil War soldier Joseph S. Kelsey, who was portrayed by Craig Caplan:

My name is Joseph S. Kelsey, and I’d like to share my story with you. My father, Asa Kelsey, was an early pioneer of my hometown in West Camden, New York. I was the third of Asa and Amanda Higbee Kelsey’s seven children, and the only son. Oddly enough, my first wife, Mary, and I had seven children – six sons and one daughter. I came of age just as the Civil War began.

Craig Caplan as Joseph S. Kelsey.  Photo courtesy of Kara Lee.

Craig Caplan as Joseph S. Kelsey. Photo courtesy of Kara Lee.

In 1862, I felt it my duty to enlist in the war effort, and so I mustered into the 146th New York Infantry. Nearly 3 years of my life was spent fighting the rebels before mustering out at the end of the war. We fought ferociously at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, at the battle of the Wilderness…and then there was Gettysburg. I witnessed that fool Confederate general George Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg. You see, I was an ambulance driver then, and stationed at the rear of our Rochester boys in the 108th New York Infantry. I could see the whole line from Little Round Top to Peach Orchard. The cannonading preceding the charge was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. It still gives me night terrors sometimes. I was one of the lucky ones and was only injured once during my service – when a horse kicked me and I broke a leg. Still, I was more fortunate than my brother-in-law, Oliver Clarke.

Oliver was with the 94th New York Infantry. He was captured in June 1864 and spent nearly a year at Andersonville Prison. He survived, though, and married my youngest sister, Josephine. Have you ever heard of Mount McGregor? It’s the cottage in Saratoga County where General Ulysses S. Grant wrote his memoirs. That great patriot died at Mount McGregor in 1885. After the General’s death, my sister and brother-in-law spent 53 years as caretakers at the cottage. Sometimes, I’d travel there and assist them with their duties. It was awe-inspiring to be in the same rooms where General Grant spent his last days on this earth. Word is Mount McGregor has been turned into a museum to honor that remarkable man.

In 1881, I became a charter member of the Grand Army of the Republic Fairport Post #211, along with my friend and comrade Chester

Joseph S. Kelsey

Joseph S. Kelsey

Hutchinson, from whom you’ll also hear this evening. The Grand Army was first formed after the Civil War to allow veterans to meet with each other and reminisce about their war efforts. Later, the organization became a powerful political group and advocate for veterans’ rights. Seven United States presidents were Civil War veterans, and many of them came to power due to the strength of the Grand Army. I’m proud to have been a part of that organization, and I served as Commander of the Fairport post for a number of years.

After the war, I spent time farming and working as a carpenter to support my large family. We had moved to Fairport in 1873, when I bought the house at 177 South Main Street in the village. Soon after, I decided I liked the newer house next door at 173 South Main Street, at the corner of Summit Street. Mary and I raised our children in that house and we lived there happily for many decades to come.

I’m very proud of my family. My six sons have made names for themselves. We lost my eldest, George, in 1898. He had enlisted for service in the Rochester Naval Reserve in July, 1898. After enlistment, George had passed examination as a bayman, a non-commissioned ship’s officer who is employed in the sick room. My wife and I received a letter from George telling us about his experiences and that he had been transferred to a naval hospital in Portsmouth. Soon after that, George was taken seriously ill with typhoid fever and news of his death quickly followed.

Marion, my third son, was master of the steam freight packet William B. Kirk and also ran excursion boats up and down the canal. The “William B. Kirk” was the last canal boat piloted on the Rochester section of the Erie Canal, and my son was at the helm. Marion was a canal boatman for over 50 years. In 1927, he rode the first Rochester & Eastern interurban railway through Rochester’s subway. My fifth son, Roy, was also a canaller.

My youngest son was born in 1884, just a year before General U.S. Grant passed on. We named our boy Grant in honor of the great general. Our Grant worked for the American Can Company here in Fairport and was President of the Fairport Automobile Club in 1922. Grant’s brother, Harlow, was also an automobile enthusiast and opened his own garage at 150 North Main Street in Fairport.

Mary, my beloved wife, died in 1913 at our home at 173 South Main Street. We’d been married nearly 49 years. The following year I married a widow, Esther Hare, who had seven children of her own. In 1926, I lost Esther after 13 years of marriage. Though I felt their losses keenly, I continued my work with the Grand Army of the Republic and dedicated my remaining days to keeping the history of our war efforts alive until going to my reward in 1929, just shy of my 93rd birthday.

Script by Vicki Masters Profitt

(c) 2014 Vicki Profitt’s Illuminated History

Resources:

Perinton Historical Society & Fairport Museum:  http://www.PerintonHistoricalSociety.org

Grant Cottage: http://www.GrantCottage.org

 

Armstrong-Bacon Hall

Posted June 16, 2014 by Vicki Masters Profitt
Categories: Civil War Soldiers, Monroe County NY, Pittsford Cemetery, Pittsford NY

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John Buckley Bacon, courtesy of the John Bacon Family

John Buckley Bacon, courtesy of the John Bacon Family

Driving down Main Street in the village of Pittsford, one can feel the history. The four corners are anchored by three historic structures: the Wiltsie & Crump building, which was constructed in 1886; the Phoenix building and the Parker building. Just south of the four corners, the massive structure of the Town Hall, built in 1890, presides over South Main Street.

However, there’s a building at 19 South Main Street that has been a fixture in the village for even longer than the Wiltsie building and the Town Hall. Constructed about 1815 as a tavern operated by Samuel Hildreth, subsequent owners have used it as a meeting place and grocery store. Many remember the building as the home of Burdett’s Food Market. Today, 19 South Main Street houses Breathe yoga and Rocky Greco’s salon.

Charles H. Armstrong operated a grocery store out of the building in the 1870s. In the mid-1880s, Charles sold the store to John Buckley

Armstrong-Bacon Hall, 19 S Main Street, Pittsford, NY

Armstrong-Bacon Hall, 19 S Main Street, Pittsford, NY

Bacon, a Civil War veteran who was new to town and looking for a business opportunity. Buckley, as he was known, went into business with his brother, Conrad Bacon. After a short time, Conrad returned to his home in Connecticut, but Buckley remained in Pittsford and his business at 19 South Main Street flourished.

A diagram of the structure dating to 1885 details the structure plan. The south side of the building had 1, 259 square feet devoted to the store. A stairwell outside the store led to a second floor meeting room, which was used for large gatherings and as a ballroom. A dwelling on the north side of the structure was 36’ 7” wide and sat quite deep on the lot. The ice house and cobblestone smoke house stood behind the dwelling, and a well and a 1,200 square foot barn were behind the store.

Walter Rose delivering groceries for the John B. Bacon store.  Bacon's son, Howard, rides along.  Photo taken c 1893.  Courtesy of the John Bacon Family.

Walter Rose delivering groceries for the John B. Bacon store. Bacon’s son, Howard, rides along. Photo taken c 1893. Courtesy of the John Bacon Family.

On September 29, 1904, the people of Pittsford were startled by an explosion that rocked the area. The smoke house behind 19 South Main Street had been converted to an acetylene gas plant. When E. T. Tracy, the clerk at Bacon’s store, arrived at the building and opened the door, the buildup of gas exploded, blowing the roof completely off and severely burning Mr. Tracy. Another clerk, Charles Hinterleiter, was able to put out the flames by using a chemical extinguisher.

In 1905, John Buckley Bacon sold the store to Phillips and Agate, who continued to utilize the space as a store. By the 1930s, Burdett’s had opened their doors and remained in business for many decades, becoming the longest-running store in the history of the building.

*Note: This article was first published in Historic Pittsford’s Summer 2014 newsletter.

“Decades of I Do: Wedding Gowns of the 20th Century” Exhibit Debuts at the Fairport Historical Museum

Posted April 29, 2014 by Vicki Masters Profitt
Categories: Civil War Soldiers, Fairport NY, Monroe County NY, Museum, Perinton NY

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2013 was the year of Downton Abbey.  My previous post extolled the virtues of the show’s interesting characters and elegant costumes.  As Director of the Fairport Historical Museum, I had the opportunity create a “Fashions Inspired by Downton Abbey” exhibit featuring costumes that came directly from the collection of the Perinton Historical Society (PHS) and which represented the witty Dowager Countess, the demure Lady Sybil and the elegant Lady Grantham, among others.  Due to the tremendous response to that exhibit, I’ve entered the PHS closets once again to bring even more costumes to light.

The wedding gown of Alice Beaumont Warner.

The wedding gown of Alice Beaumont Warner.

In 2014, the Fairport Historical Museum celebrates weddings.  Our newest exhibit, “Decades of I Do: Wedding Gowns of the 20th Century” showcases twelve wedding gowns from area brides. Six dresses come from the PHS collection, while an additional six are on loan from their owners.  Wedding announcements and bridal photos accompany many of the gowns and serve to personalize each bride’s story.  Here is the story of our 1903 bride, Alice Beaumont, who has the distinction of having the earliest wedding gown in the exhibit.

Alice M. Beaumont, the daughter of Edward F. and Emma Sahlman Beaumont, was born in June, 1881.  She grew up on George Street in the village of Fairport, New York, and it was in the parlor of that home that Alice and George H. Warner were married on October 1, 1903 beneath a beautiful arch of evergreen and floral decorations as eighty friends and family members looked on.  Dressed in white lansdown trimmed with Irish lace, the bride carried a bouquet of white roses to meet her groom.

Alice Beaumont and George H. Warner on their wedding day, October 1, 1903.  Photo courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

Alice Beaumont and George H. Warner on their wedding day, October 1, 1903. Photo courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

George H. Warner was the son of George S. and Lena Peglow Warner.  George S. had served during the Civil War  in the 16th U. S. Infantry.  George S. and Lena had seven children, of which George H. was number four.

The Beaumonts also had a Civil War veteran in their midst.  Alice’s paternal grandfather, Thomas Beaumont, served in Co. A, 8th New York Cavalry.

Alice and George became parents in 1908 upon the birth of their first son, Leon.  Three more sons, Hollis, Vincent and George Maxwell, would follow within the next seven years.  George supported his growing family by working as a foreman at the American Can Company.

1915 was a dreadful year for Alice Beaumont Warner.  On May 19th her mother, Emma Sahlman Beaumont, died.  Three months later, a motorcycle accident ended the life of her grandfather, Frederick Sahlman.  Then in October Alice’s aunt, Elizabeth Sahlman Bort, was killed in an automobile accident.  In the midst of this sadness, Alice gave birth to her fourth and final son, George Maxwell Warner.  Little George must have been the only bright spot in this annus horribilus.

The Warners lived at 25 Woodlawn Avenue in Fairport for the majority of their 66 year marriage, which ended only with George’s death on March 25, 1970.  Alice Beaumont Warner died twelve days later.  They were buried at White Haven Cemetery in Pittsford, New York.

Alice is just one of the brides represented in this exhibit.  I invite you to visit the Fairport Historical Museum, located at 18 Perrin Street near the Village Landing, during regular open hours (Sundays and Tuesdays 2:00-4:00 p.m., Thursdays 7:00-9:00 p.m. and Saturdays 9:00-11:00 a.m.) to view these exquisite wedding gowns and to read the announcements of nuptials from the past, when “O Promise Me” was a popular wedding song and the Green Lantern Inn was the fashionable place to hold a wedding reception.

Inspired by Downton Abbey

Posted December 3, 2013 by Vicki Masters Profitt
Categories: Fairport NY, Monroe County NY, Museum, Perinton NY, Rochester NY

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Over the past two weeks, it seems as if I’ve been living and breathing Downton Abbey.  Not that I’m complaining.  Since the first season of Downton, I’ve been mesmerized by the characters and the intrigues but also, more importantly, by the elegant costumes and history of the time period.

Bruce, Alastair003Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a special luncheon presented by WXXI featuring Alastair Bruce, OBE, historical advisor to Downton Abbey.  It was an intimate gathering – just me, my friend Suzanne Lee, and 400 other fans of the show.  What a time we had!  This was Mr. Bruce’s only presentation in the United States and, I’m very proud to say, it was held in Rochester, New York.  Captivating the audience with charm and wit,  Mr. Bruce regaled us with stories about the making of the show.  Who knew that Rob James-Collier, also known as the dastardly servant Thomas Barrows, is an amazingly nice guy in real life?  Or that the actors sometimes get tired of being told to tilt their heads differently or to sit up straighter?  If I came away with anything from the presentation, it was to watch for the little details going on in the background of the show.  Did you ever notice the servants measuring how far each chair was from the table?  Those are the details that go into creating a show of such high caliber.

This week, I have the pleasure of being a guest speaker at the Barnes & Noble in Webster, New York, for their Downton Abbey event, where I will display and discuss seven Downton Abbey inspired costumes from the collection of the Perinton Historical Society (PHS) which were recently exhibited at the Fairport Museum.  The PHS has an impressive collection of over 1,000 costumes and accessories from the mid-1800s through modern times.  My original plans were to create a different costume exhibit for the museum.  However, once I saw the black gown, an inner voice that sounded much like the Dowager Countess said, “My dear, you must display Downton Abbey.  Nothing else will do!”  B&N Flyer 2013002After that, the costumes nearly jumped out of the closet.  There was an exquisite gown which would have been stunning on Lady Grantham.  Sweet Sybil was represented in white and blue, while Edith’s no nonsense attitude manifested itself in a black sheath dress.  Lady Mary wore a classic long, black gown complete a net jacket embellished with thousands of small beads.  Even Mrs. Hughes and Lady Rose MacClare were represented in the exhibit.

Although the Downton Abbey exhibit at the Fairport Museum has ended, you still have the opportunity to see the fabulous costumes at this one time event at Barnes & Noble, located at 1070 Ridge Road in Webster, New York.  It promises to be a fun evening.  Our friends from the Rochester Historical Society, whose own Downton Abbey exhibit opens today, will also be there.  So will Kristen Zory King of Writers & Books, who will give a short presentation about why the female characters of Downton Abbey draw us in.  Stop by on Thursday evening, December 5, 2013, at 7:00 p.m. to gaze at these exquisite pieces of history that were once worn by women from our own community.

Hero Highlight: Byron Talman, 22nd NY Cavalry by Guest Author Anne van Leeuwen

Posted September 30, 2013 by Vicki Masters Profitt
Categories: Civil War, Civil War Soldiers, Fairport NY, Monroe County NY, Perinton NY

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Introduction by Vicki Masters Profitt, Illuminated History:

Last spring, I came into contact with Jon Tallman, a descendant of the Perinton, New York, Talman family.  I asked Jon if he would be interested in writing a Hero Highlight about Byron Talman for Illuminated History.  Jon declined because he felt the story should be told by a direct descendant.  Jon gave me contact information for Anne van Leeuwen, Byron’s great-great-granddaughter.  Anne is descended from Byron through his daughter, Ida Mae Talman.  Anne graciously accepted the offer to write a Hero Highlight about her ancestor.  Here, in Anne’s words, is

BYRON’S STORY

While this article is about Perinton’s Byron Talman (1838-1909) and the capture of Confederate raider Harry Gilmor, it is largely about the 22nd NY Cavalry, sometimes called “the Rochester Cavalry.”

Byron Talman, courtesy of Anne van Leeuwen

Byron Talman, courtesy of Anne van Leeuwen

The 22nd NY Cavalry existed during the last eighteen months of the Civil War, when fighting closed on the Confederate capital in Virginia.  Much of this time, the 22nd NY Cavalry regiment was assigned to the 3rd Division of the Cavalry Corps.  The 3rd was commanded by Brig. Gen. George A. Custer, who had established his reputation at Gettysburg.  The Cavalry Corps was under the overall command of Maj. Gen. Alfred T. N. Torbet who reported to Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan.  Sheridan’s battle experiences included Stones River, Chattanooga, and Chickamauga.

The 22nd participated in two great campaigns — the Overland Campaign and the (Shenandoah) Valley Campaign. During the Overland Campaign, Sheridan’s Cavalry Corps was attached to Grant’s Army of the Potomac as it progressed southward toward the Confederate capital, fighting battles at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor.  When battle lines became entrenched at Richmond and Petersburg, Grant made Sheridan’s Cavalry Corps into the autonomous Army of the Shenandoah.  Their mission was to halt Confederate military operations in western Virginia and to eliminate the threat of attack on Washington.  The Valley Campaign fought battles at Opequon (Winchester), Cedar Creek, and Waynesboro.  All of these battles, from the Wilderness to Waynesboro, are considered major battles, critical to the war’s outcome.  The 22nd fought them all within a six month period and suffered high casualties.

The legacy of the 22nd and the Cavalry Corps is significant.  When the war began, the Union Army had no effective cavalry.  In contrast, the Confederacy had the illustrious cavalryman J.E.B. Stuart.  By the end of the campaigns, Stuart had been removed and the reputations of Generals Sheridan, and Custer were established. In his farewell address to the division, Custer said, “In the past six months, although confronted by superior numbers,… you have never lost a gun, never lost a color, and have never been defeated.”

At Perinton in October 1863, Talman was among the first to enlist in Company A of the 22nd NY Cavalry.  As more men volunteered, Companies B through M were formed. Talman was 25, had a wife, and had already sailed the Atlantic and Mediterranean.  His father was an abolitionist who had campaigned for Lincoln in Perinton and Rochester.  Talman was a First Sergeant during the Overland Campaign.  For the Shenandoah Campaign, he was commissioned as an officer in Company H.  Later, he would command Company M and would frequently be in command of the battalion or regiment.

Talman received a gunshot wound to his left arm at Opequon (Winchester).  There are several accounts.  General Custer reported, “The enemy upon our approach delivered a well-directed volley of musketry, but before a second discharge could be given my command was in their midst, sabering right and left.” Talman’s brother, a journalist and historian, wrote, “he was shot in the left arm while leading a charge, but fought on until, faint from loss of blood, his colonel forced him to the rear.”  In his promotion to Captain and to the command of Company M, the Army record cited his “gallant and meritorious services at the Battle of Winchester, Va.”  One press release stated, “the [22nd NY Cavalry] regiment captured four of the nine battle flags,” and credits Talman among others.  These flags were presented by Custer and Sheridan to Secretary of War Stanton.

Byron Talman, courtesy of Anne van Leeuwen

Byron Talman, courtesy of Anne van Leeuwen

Major Harry Gilmor was a Confederate raider who destroyed railroad bridges near Washington in Maryland and West Virginia.  As the Confederacy grew desperate, Gilmor terrorized civilians and burned towns, such as Chambersburg, PA, entirely to the ground.

According to another regimental history[1] of that time, Sheridan had scouts, Union soldiers who had been selected with for their courage and fitness for this dangerous work.  They tracked Gilmor, and on 4 Feb 1865, they found him in bed, sound asleep, his revolver on a chair nearby.  Gilmor was imprisoned for the remainder of the war.

Byron Talman’s role in Gilmor’s capture is unclear.  The story was not told during Talman’s life, but it is consistent with the known facts.

  • Was Talman ever a scout for Sheridan?  In the Monroe County Mail for 13 Feb 1919, Talman’s brother says, “In the Battle of the Wilderness, Byron led a squad of troopers detailed to carry dispatches between Gen. Grant and his corps commanders [who included Sheridan] and half the time was inside the Confederate lines.”  This is consistent with deployment of the regiment at the Wilderness.
  • Was Talman serving as Sheridan’s scout in February 1865?  The Army record indicates that he was present but unattached to a unit from January through March 1865.
  • Was Talman involved with Gilmor’s capture?  In the Monroe County Mail for 19 Feb 1929, Talman’s brother writes, “It was he, single-handed, who captured Major Harry Gilmor, the Confederate officer, after pursuing him three days and three nights without sleep.  It was a bit singular that the two men, both large and powerful, were almost doubles.”

This account of “single-handed” capture mocks Gilmor, who was an exceptional braggart, boasting in the newspapers and defying his pursuers.  If Talman was indeed alone when he captured Gilmor, he was certainly one of many involved in the pursuit.

After the war, Talman lived a quiet life as a farmer in the Midwest and was buried in 1909 near his grandchildren in Williams, Iowa.  Tragically, an 1896 tuberculosis epidemic had taken the lives of his grandchildren — except my grandfather Frank.


[1] The 22nd Pennsylvania Cavalry, by SC Farrar, 1911.  This unit also served in the Army of the Shenandoah, and many of its soldiers were from Chambersburg, which was burned by Gilmor.

Arcadia Publishing’s Newest Book – “Pittsford”

Posted May 31, 2013 by Vicki Masters Profitt
Categories: Architecture, Pittsford Cemetery, Pittsford NY

Tags: , , , , ,

Pittsford cover high resolution

Pittsford by Audrey Maxfield Johnson and Vicki Masters Profitt

I’m pleased to announce the publication of Pittsford, the newest title in Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series.  Pittsford Town and Village Historian Audrey Maxfield Johnson and I have worked on this pictorial history of Pittsford, New York, for the last eighteen months and are thrilled with the results. 

Pittsford chronicles the lives of the earliest settlers of the town, who arrived in the late 1780s, to their descendants who reside in Pittsford to this day.  Other families have shorter roots in Pittsford soil, but have made significant contributions to its history through commerce, agriculture and education.

This book is truly a community effort, and we wish to express our appreciation to the people who shared their family photographs and stories with us.  We are grateful for the opportunity to illuminate Pittsford’s history in such a personal way.

UPCOMING AUTHOR SIGNINGS and APPEARANCES:

Friday, June 21, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. – Barnes & Noble Pittsford Book Signing, 3349 Monroe Avenue.  Open to the public

Sunday, July 14, 2013, time tbd – Historic Pittsford Annual Meeting and Picnic with Book Signing.  Open to members of Historic Pittsford

TO ORDER PITTSFORD:

Pittsford is available through

Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/073859900X/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=073859900X&linkCode=as2&tag=illhisshialig-20

Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pittsford-new-york-audrey-maxfield-johnson/1114923118?ean=9780738599007

Historic Pittsford’s Little House (www.HistoricPittsford.com) – signed copies available

Fashions Inspired by Downton Abbey

Posted April 30, 2013 by Vicki Masters Profitt
Categories: Uncategorized

Downton Abbey is a phenomenon.  Is it because of the acting?  Perhaps.  What about the storylines?  Possibly.  Those are important factors into my decision to watch this PBS Masterpiece Classic penned by writer and creator Julian Fellowes.  However, the main reason I tune in is for the costumes.  Who can resist those fabulous hats, dashing tails and tophats and elegant evening gowns?  Admit it.  You’ve pictured yourself in at least one of those outfits. 

Fashions Inspired by Downton Abbey

Fashions Inspired by Downton Abbey. Costumes courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

In my position as director of the Fairport Historical Museum in Fairport, New York, it is my job to draw attention to the wonderful resources the museum has to offer.  We have an excellent research facility for those genealogists itching to learn more about their Fairport ancestors.  Multiple files extol the beauty of the local architecture, and the displays will tell you everything you need to know about businesses and inventions that came from this area.  What people haven’t seen is a selection of the hundreds of costumes and accessories from the museum’s collection…until now.

On April 16, 2013, the Fairport Historical Museum welcomed costume consultant Mary-Ellen Perry to present a program about the new costume exhibit opening that night, Fashions Inspired by Downton Abbey.  Ms. Perry’s credentials are impressive.  She holds a B.A. in Art from West Maryland College, and received her Masters in American Folk Culture from SUNY Oneonta.  After interning and working as curator at the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey, Ms. Perry became director at the Arnot Art Museum in Elmira, New York.  She served as guest curator at the New Britain Museum of American Art in Connecticut and followed that up as curator of clothing and art at Rochester’s own Strong Museum.  Impressive is an understatement.  You can imagine how thrilled I was when I approached Ms. Perry to speak at the Fairport Historical Museum and she graciously accepted.  She also took the time to come into the museum several times to discuss the eras and details of the costumes that were to be in the exhibit.  I have learned so much from her.

Fashions Inspired by Downton Abbey.  Costumes courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

Fashions Inspired by Downton Abbey. Costumes courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

After Ms. Perry’s wonderful presentation discussing fashions from the 1880s through the 1940s, the program attendees were offered the first glimpse of the exhibit which features costumes chosen to represent eight of the characters from Downton Abbey.  The gown representing the elegant Lady Grantham is an exquisite ivory tea gown dating to about 1913.  Lady Sybil’s white and blue day dress dates to the same period.  Lady Edith’s black silk crepe afternoon dress with a modesty panel springs us forward in time to the mid-1920s, while Lady Mary’s long black dinner dress with removable jacket seemed to be the hit of the show.  Matthew Crawley, Lady Rose MacClare and Mrs. Hughes are also embodied by appropriate attire.  Everyone’s favorite Dowager Countess is represented by an amazing black silk taffeta day dress.  The dress, circa early 1900s, sports a double row of buttons down the front and back and split sleeves of netting over silk.  Two additional gowns, two capes and a cloak round out the costumes.  The exhibit also features a selection of vintage hats, gloves, hair combs and hat pins, purses and shoes. 

Costumes and mannequins courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

Costumes and mannequins courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.

Fashions Inspired by Downton Abbey runs through September 15, 2013 at the Fairport Historical Museum.  The museum, located at 18 Perrin Street, Fairport, New York 14450, is open Sundays and Tuesdays from 2:00-4:00 p.m., Thursday evenings from 7:00-9:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:00-11:00 a.m.  Admission is free, and there is free parking on the street and in the Village Landing parking lot directly across the street from the museum.  I invite you to come view these exquisite fashions from days gone by and to support the Perinton Historical Society, a not-for-profit volunteer organization which maintains the Fairport Historical Museum.  Please consider membership in the Perinton Historical Society in order to support our educational programs, special exhibits and operation of the Fairport Historical Museum.  For additional information about the PHS, please visit the website, www.PerintonHistoricalSociety.org.


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