Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Hopewell Furnace Living History

      This past weekend I participated in my first Civil War event of the season; an immersion event at Hopewell Furnace in Elverson, PA. I had been wanting to participate in this event for awhile and had assumed that I would portray a working class member of the town. But, when my husband, Vince, mentioned portraying Lancaster citizens visiting the town on business with the Furnace, I loved the idea. Both of our families are from Lancaster, PA, so portraying visitors from Lancaster seemed perfect. We portrayed William and Mary Heitshu, wealthy Lancastrians of the 1860s. Mr. Heitshu owned a hat shop in Lancaster city, and Mrs. Heitshu was from a prominent family that owned a local iron furnace.

      We were not able to find any pictures of the Heitshus, but knowing their position in society, I was able to draw on period images from Lancaster taken of people of similar wealth to get an idea of how William and Mary Heitshu may have dressed. Because I didn't have time to make a new dress just for the event (but oh, how I would have loved to reproduce an original dress with provenance in Lancaster, PA), I finished trimming the green silk bonnet that I had made in Millinery class while at Carnegie Mellon.

Eating at the Boarding House.


      My newly completed green silk bonnet. To complete the buckram bonnet that I had made in a millinery class, I added sheer ivory flowers between the my handmade ribbon flowers and gathered ivory lace to the interior sides of the bonnet brim. I'm very happy with the way the bonnet turned out!

The bonnet trim style was based on an original bonnet seen on Ebay.


       My mother, Nancy, portrayed Mrs. Geiger, the stepmother of Mary Heitshu. And her friend, Audrey Trussell portrayed a friend of the family.


      We could not leave Hopewell without having our image made by the talented Jim Peiffer. I chose to have our picture captured by the romantic brook that babbled through the center of the town. The perfect end to a perfect day.

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  1. You all look fantastic, and the bonnets came out beautifully. I love all the pleated trim detail on yours - so pretty! And the period image is stunning. You so rarely see people stage informal outdoor scenes with reproduction photos.

    May I ask what your dress is made of? Is that silk or cotton? It's lovely!

  2. Oh my how excellent!! The bonnet is so pretty!! You did a great job. Love all the pics you took and the period image is supper!!

  3. oh, i do so love that sheer gown!! *dreamy sigh* :) you look lovely! as do your husband, mother, and friend!

  4. The perfect picture to end your visit at Hopewell. Every one looks so nice. Love the pretty bonnet you made. I just think you three ladies do such a wonderful impression at events(and Vince too!). Lindsey, I am so proud of what you have accomplished. GMD

  5. You look great. Fantastic job on your dress and bonnet. I love the green silk!

  6. Thank you for the lovely comments! Rebecca, my sheer dress is made of silk - it has a wonderful hand and breathes so well in the summer. Not sure if I want to go back to sheer cotton dresses if sheer silk can be found! :)

  7. Lovely pictures!

    Thanks for sharing!


  8. You look amazing! I love the huge bows on the bonnet, and the green covering! Sooo many ideas! So jealous! Thanks so much for sharing!

    I love the last couple of pictures, this is the kind of life I want to live, somewhere near a peaceful river like that!

  9. Gorgeous set of photos! These feel so 'real'! The bonnet, the parasol and the sheer dress (the silk is such a wonderful find!) fit together perfectly and the black and white picture is just stunning!


  10. What sort of hoop are you wearing with your dress and how many petticoats? I am trying to get that same shape with mine and wondered how you had achieved it. My problem is that I am 5'10", so I need more "pouf" than most ladies to make it look right. I have been contemplating a cage hoop, but not sure if that will do the trick.

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