Historical Fashion at the Octagon House in Watertown Wisconsin

A few weeks ago the Smithsonian had their Museum Day Live! event where many museums across the country offer free entry on a Saturday. I enjoy taking advantage of this event to explore new museums I haven’t had the chance to visit. This year I chose the Octagon House in Watertown Wisconsin because I’ve always been fascinated by octagonal buildings.

The Octagon House was built in 1854 by John Richards, a lawyer who later became mayor of Watertown. He and his wife had a large family of 8 kids, so he wanted a house that was plenty big for all of them. The house has 4 large rooms on each floor and little pie shaped nooks in between the big rooms. The family lived in the house until the mid 1930s. It’s now taken care of by the Watertown Historical Society.

Before taking this tour, I was expecting a nice house with plenty of antiques, which I enjoy. As we made our way up the floors, it was as I suggested with the tour guide telling us that most of the furnishings weren’t original and had been donated by many different people. They did choose things that would be representative of that time period. You can imagine my surprise and delight when we got to the 3rd floor, and as I left the group and started exploring on my own, I found quite a bit of fashion. I kept my ear open to what the guide was saying but I didn’t hear her make much in reference to it.

There are no lights in the house so it was a good thing it was a sunny day. I didn’t use a flash in most of the pictures because it just reflected off of the glass. The darkest ones I had to or you wouldn’t be able to see anything. Unfortunately there wasn’t information about most of the fashion items but they’re all from the 1800s or early 1900s. Enjoy!  #throwbackthursday

octagon house watertown wisconsin

sunday dress from 1800s

beaded dress from early 1900s

Beaded dress from early 1900s

closeup of beaded dress

Closeup of beaded dress

 

woman with veil-not sure if for mourning

Woman with veil-not sure if for mourning

 

Different fashion accessories-beaded and jeweled

Different fashion accessories-beaded and jeweled

 

Beaded necklaces, hair combs and hair clips

Beaded necklaces, hair combs and hair clips

 

Tortoise shell large hair combs. In front and to the left are jewelry made from human hair

Tortoise shell large hair combs. In front and to the left are jewelry made from human hair