The Fenton History Center’s 1920s Exhibition features a blue silk crepe dress trimmed with blonde lace. Textile Curator, Phoebe Forbes, describes this dress as decked with a full front bodice and floating lace panel at the back, in the Georgette fashion. Made and imported from Paris in the 1920s, in 1982 it was donated by Mrs. Elizabeth Anderson Cass who wore it at the celebration of the completion of Hotel Jamestown on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1924. The Gala was held in the Crystal Ballroom and Mrs. Cass wrote on a letter which came with her donation, that the “event held cherished memories”. She mentioned the “huge crystal ballroom, the beaded ballgowns, the jeweled tiaras, fan-shaped combs, the men attired in tailored tuxedos, and the formal printed menus, molded ice cream and petit fours”. Mrs. Cass also felt quite grown-up “being sent home, alone, in a taxi cab while the merry bells of the New Year rang out”. Mrs. Cass’s uncle, Frank O. Anderson, was the first President of Hotel Jamestown and her father, Oscar E. Anderson, was the owner of Monarch Furniture. The hotel was known to accommodate many attendees of the famous Furniture Exposition in Jamestown. The dress was purchased at Best & Co., an exclusive 5th Avenue store in New York City.
Another item in the spotlight in our exhibit, is a watch presented to Frank A. Johnson, Jamestown Chief of Police, for 30 years of service, on January 6, 1925. This was donated by Jon M. Becker, in memory of the police chief’s daughters, Florance and Hattie Johnson. According to Hatch’s Illustrated History of Jamestown, Mr. Johnson was appointed Chief of Police in December, 1894, by Mayor Green and reappointed successively by Mayors Price, Cooper and E. Johnson. F. A. Johnson was a member of the National Guards of New York and a volunteer during the Spanish-American War.
These and many more, are on display at the museum. Just as the 1920s dress harkens back to a memorable occasion, we wish to share an unforgettable evening with you. We hope to see you at our Gala on the 29th.