Hats, Handbags, Hankies: Exhibit opens Sunday at Rowan Museum
By Cyntra Brown
Hats with feathers, flowers and fur paint the history of accessories from the early 1900s through the late 1990s.
“Hats, Handbags and Hankies,” an exhibit opening Sunday at Rowan Museum, will feature accoutrements from prominent women of Salisbury. A free reception takes place from 1 to 4 p.m.
“A lot of people under 30 and 40 have never worn a hat,”says Mary Jane Fowler, curator. “So we decided to get them out and show them what their mothers and grandmothers wore.”
The exhibit will feature hats and fans from the late Eleanor H. Bradshaw, a former museum board member. The items were given by her husband, Leon Bradshaw. Many people remember her as a beautiful dresser.
“She was a striking, sophisticated woman,” Fowler says.
Spring hats donated by Ruth Clement will be on display and winter hats were given by Mary Nicolson, a former teacher at Boyden High School.
There’s a selection of mourning hats, with matching handbags and fans, and men’s fedoras. Other hats were donated by the late Lois Brown Haynes and Genevra Bradley Hartman. Hartman owned a shop on West Innes Street in the early 1900s.
Millinery flowers and hat pins will also be featured as decorative accents to the hats. Millinery flowers can be used to accent hats or as corsages.
The handbags are just as extravagant as the hats. Some are small, with coin separators, while others are embellished with sequins and flowers. One purse, a tiny green felt box with a matching hat, would have been used in the 1940s by college students.
There are pastel-colored hankies, embroidered with “Eleanor H. Bradshaw” in the corner, and a white set with tiny blue bows. Some handkerchiefs date from 1910, all pressed and displayed with the utmost care and perfection.”
“Aren’t these just gorgeous?” says Kaye Brown Hirst, executive director of the museum.
Hats donated by Alease Taylor were featured in “Crowns,” a recent play performed by Piedmont Players Theatre.
Board members Susan Waller and Raemi Evans, along with Fowler, assembled the exhibit, which will be on display until Sept. 1.