Hagen History Center

Vintage Style Shines in Erie

Welcome to the HHC’s new wedding and special event blog! Our goal is to tell you about our venue spaces, their history, highlight current wedding trends, and feature local businesses.

The Hagen History Center team has been working hard over the last few months to prepare for a record-breaking wedding season. At the mansion our floors have been refinished, marble polished, and woodwork resurfaced. A new catering entrance has been added as well. Outdoors, the red patio awning, chandelier and bistro lights are up. The gardens have been pruned and mulched, all sights and smells of warmer months ahead. Major transformations are also taking place this week at our Girard properties. Soon, we will proudly unveil a new indoor venue space on the first-floor of the Battles Yellow House, 436 Walnut St., Girard, Pa., alongside newly repainted interior and exterior features at the Yellow House and the Battles White House, 306 Walnut St.. We are ready, and we are excited to host all of your celebrations!

Looking back:  

Pictured below is Winifred Watson (daughter of Harrison & Carrie T. Watson) photographed on her wedding day inside the Watson-Curtze Mansion. In 1910, Winifred married Ely Griswold, heir to The Griswold Company cast iron cookware manufacturing company.

The year 1910 marked a turning point in the history of fashion. Transitioning from the Victorian Era to the Edwardian Era, a new style began. Bridal fashion during this time was no exception, with dresses featuring intricate lace details, delicate embroidery, rich fabrics, and extravagant veils. All of these characteristics can be noted in Winifred’s dress.

One of the defining features of Edwardian era bridal fashion was the “S” shape silhouette. Dresses were created with a tightly fitted bodice using a corset, and a flared skirt with large bustles in the back. Another important aspect of Edwardian era bridal fashion was the veil. Designed to be long and flowing, made of lace or tulle. They were typically attached with a tiara or headpiece. Popular bridal coiffures were loosely pulled back and meant to emphasize the face.

Winnie in wedding dress
While Winifred appears unhappy on her “big day” – don’t fret. Camera shutter speeds in 1910 could take up to 15 minutes, so holding a smile for that long was challenging for most!

Winifred and Ely’s wedding took place at the Watson-Curtze Mansion. Since then, dozens of brides have been photographed here. I personally recommend the Parlor and Solarium rooms for photos. The natural light is stunning. The golden-hour sunlight beams through the windows at dusk – truly the most magical ambiance you could hope for on your wedding day. Not to mention the most elaborate and flattering “selfie” mirrors for the modern age. The Watson-Curtze Mansion and all of its rooms, nooks, and crannies are a timeless masterpiece. Photos are always encouraged!  

Looking ahead:  

Fast-forward 113 years, I did some research to see what bridal trends we can expect in 2023. Fashion experts and editors at brides.com say the five most common bridal trends we will see this year are:  

  1. statement sleeves (hello 1980s Princess Diana dress). 
  2. Form-fitting silhouettes. 
  3. Ornate embellishments (When you walk in the room, you’ll make the whole place *shimmer*). 
  4. Shorter hemlines. 
  5. Pops of color (Your inner Carrie Bradshaw will thank you). 

Looking locally:  

There’s a good chance your dream dress is already waiting for you right here in downtown Erie. I had the opportunity to spend a morning with Emily George, owner of The Dollhouse at Pointe Foure (423 State Street). Since she began in 2013, Emily has always kept an inventory of vintage bridal gowns in stock. Her shop is not just a boutique, but a time capsule and fashion museum of its very own. Walking in, guests are immediately greeted with vibrant clothing, vintage chandeliers, lush plants, and original artwork. Preciously tucked away in the back corner is her largest, sturdiest rack – filled with the most exquisite and unique bridal gowns. 

Overwhelmed on where to begin, I asked Emily if she could show me her oldest pieces. She quickly sifted and pulled out a satin gown from the 1940s, in nearly pristine condition. Another lace dress from the 1930s. A third from the 1960s. Every decade is covered in her shop – every fabric, hemline, and style. All locally sourced, vintage, sustainable, and quite affordable. Prices range from $75 to $650 for her one-of-a-kind pieces of history. Beaming with a smile, Emily explained her favorite part is getting to know the story behind each dress, as they are usually brought in to her individually by families. “Being able to share that history is so special,” she said.  

Looking for unique bridal accessories? Everything from jewelry, gloves, hats, veils, and cake toppers are also available. Emily provides fitting consultations and alterations for brides, bridesmaids, mothers, flower girls and beyond. Whether you want to follow the current trends of 2023, Winifred’s Edwardian era, 40s, 60s, 80s – or anywhere in between – I’m certain there is something to catch your eye that comes with an incredible back-story.  



Interested in a tour, or learning more about the Hagen History Center’s venue spaces? Email events@eriehistory.org. Interested in a bridal consultation with Emily? Email pointefoure@gmail.com.

Historical Information and photos from www.eriehistory.org and Hagen History Center Digital Archives.  

Brides. (2023, March 7). The Top Wedding Dress Trends for 2023. Brides. https://www.brides.com/wedding-dress-trends-2023-7093426 

Osborn, S. (2022, January 26). Edwardian Bridal Fashions: Wedding Gowns and Accessories. The Spruce Crafts. https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/edwardian-bridal-fashions-149236 

Sweetheart, E. (n.d.). Edwardian Wedding Dresses: A Brief History. Vintage Dancer. https://vintagedancer.com/edwardian-wedding-dresses-history/ 

Ockenfels, E. (2022, March 17). Edwardian Era Bridal Gowns: Trends and Styles. LoveToKnow Weddings. https://weddings.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Edwardian_Era_Bridal_Gowns:_Trends_and_Styles 

Scrivener, E. (2018, February 15). Edwardian Wedding Dress History: From Grace Kelly to Kate Middleton. Wedding Ideas Magazine. https://www.weddingideasmag.com/edwardian-wedding-dress-history/