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