‘Life Events and Rites of Passage’ exhibit opens Sunday at Rowan Museum

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 5, 2008

By Susan Shinn
Salisbury Post
Births, relationships, weddings, funerals.
All are life events and all are celebrated in a new exhibit at Rowan Museum.
“Life Events and Rites of Passage” opens Sunday with a reception from 1 to 4 p.m. at the museum, 202 N. Main St.
This exhibit evolved from quite an unusual piece.
In the mid-1880s, Ella E. Kluttz created a friendship wreath from the hair of 32 women who had, at one time or another, been students at Mount Amoena Academy in Mount Pleasant.
The hair flowers are mounted in a heart shape, surrounded by green leaves.
Their teacher was Miss Ella B. Shirey.
Lucetta J. Brown, one of those students, is the great-grandmother of Kaye Brown Hirst, the museum’s executive director.
The school is now the Eastern Cabarrus Historical Museum, and that museum has provided some assistance about the wreath, although they have no records of students before 1889.
Hirst, however, says that the students were all from southeastern Rowan County, and most likely attended Ebenezer or Organ Lutheran churches.
“It is a phenomenal piece,” Hirst says.
The wreath will be on display, along with baptismal gowns, wedding gowns and mourning clothing ó from the museum’s collection and on loan from local residents.
A beautiful long, white Rothschild christening gown is on exhibit, along with elaborate Italian-style christening gowns.
Susan Waller, a board member who has helped curator Mary Jane Fowler assemble the exhibit, points out a half-mourning dress.
During the first year of mourning, women wore all black. During the second year, they could add touches of purple, lavender or white, Waller says.
This particular dress is from about 1900.
Mourning jewelry ó in black and gold ó will be on display. Some of the jewelry is made with the hair of the deceased.
The detailing, Waller says, is “mindboggling.”
A blue wedding dress from the 1940s belonged to Madeline Fittipaldi Horrocks, the great aunt of Barbara Franklin.
Irene zum Brunnen Purcell, one of the museum’s early docents, married in the early 1940s. Her cream-colored dress is on display, along with her picture and Horrocks’ picture.
An intricate veil belonging to the late Lois Brown Haynes is shown, along with her portrait. She married Earl Haynes on Nov. 3, 1956.
She also had worn a dark green bridesmaid’s dress in December 1949.
The exhibit will remain on display through Aug. 30. For more information, call Rowan Museum at 704-633-5946.