Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Victorian Gala

Last weekend I was fortunate to be a volunteer at Heritage Square Museum's Victorian Christmas tour. This is an annual event, but my first. It won't be my last.

The Hale House, ca. 1886

Heritage Square is essentially a museum of old and architecturally important structures, mostly houses, moved to a park-like property north of Los Angeles to restore and preserve them. Guided tours are offered, and period furnishings and decorative arts fill many of the rooms. Everything has a story and the docents are very knowledgeable. They love to dress up in costume, hair and all, to partake in period events like this one. They converse frequently about historical events and such, with ease and flair- conversations there are so different then the usual ones going on in southern California!

Being there Saturday evening was like a step back in time, for me, heaven. My clothes were not old, but authentic reproductions. Natalie,(far left) is the creator of my outfit and runs the costuming at the museum with her extensive knowledge and deep felt passion for historical sewing and dressing with authenticity.

Natalie chose a 19th century woman's wool suit and a high neck lace blouse for me to wear.(far right) Denise and Rene are in the center.

Boy did I need it on that cold night. I worked reception and greeted people outside, so when the temp got in the low 50s they gave me a black velvet hooded cape with pink satin lining to wear. Suddenly images of Little Red Riding Hood overtook Victorian lady!

We got to dress upstairs in the Hale house, a high style Victorian. This area is off-limits to tours, but is sometimes used for TV or movie sets. I couldn't wait to see it up there. We were surrounded by gorgeous tester beds, chests, and dressers with big mirrors in three rooms, with movable racks of clothes everywhere you looked. This happenstance scene reminded me of "Little Women."

Used for covers on one of the beds or should I say unnoticed on the bed under all the girl-stuff were quilts from the Civil War era. Had there been time and not so much to move I would have taken full photos of them, but that day will come, I promise you that.

I will tease you with these photos for now-

LeMoyne Star pattern with sashing and cornerstones, ca. 1865 (left)

A srappy Irish Chain pattern, ca. 1840 (above & below)

Here are some more beautiful costumes and the outside of the mid-19th Perry House.

A big thanks to Ken Johnson for use of his photos (the two above and the Hale House at top) and to Heritage Square Museum for their permission to use them here. HSM is open all year long and worth a visit when you are near LA or Pasadena CA.

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