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The idea for the wedding re-enactment came from a display of vintage gowns in Akron.



Published: Wed, July 10, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The idea for the wedding re-enactment came from a display of vintage gowns in Akron.

By DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

IT LOOKED LIKE A PHOTOgraph from the late 19th century and recognized one of Warren's earliest prominent women.

The Upton Association presented a re-enactment Tuesday evening of the Victorian wedding of Harriet Amanda Taylor and George Whitman Upton at First Presbyterian Church.

One of the city's most notable women at the turn of the century, Taylor was active in the Women's Suffrage Movement and a friend of suffragette Susan B. Anthony. The couple wed July 9, 1884, in Christ's Church in the city after a two-year engagement.

The couple was portrayed by Stephanie Smith and Peter Herman.

The wedding party, followed by their guests -- some dressed in their period finery -- walked from the church, down Mahoning Avenue to the Upton House, where Taylor had lived with her father.

Sandy Sarsany of the Upton Association said the idea for the re-enactment came when she visited Stan Hywet Hall in Akron and its display of vintage wedding gowns.

"We thought we would be able to do something like that at the Upton House, and then it evolved into doing Harriet's wedding," she said.

The association may continue the event in future years. Vintage wedding dresses from Sarsany's own collection filled a room of the Upton House for the event. The dresses date from 1894 and include gowns from the flapper era, the 1930s, 1940s and 1970s.

The dress

Sue Stoddart, a member of the Upton board, made the elaborate reproduction of Taylor's dress for the event.

"It probably took me longer to find the material than to make the dress," Stoddart said of her white ottoman silk brocade and butterfly train creation.

She read newspaper accounts of the historic wedding and researched at the Sutliffe Museum at the Warren-Trumbull County Library to make the gown as authentic as possible.

"I found out they don't make brocade for dresses anymore, just for upholstery," she said.

Obviously, that wouldn't have worked, so she consulted a fabric site on the Internet and found a store in California that gets the fabric from Thailand.

Stoddart will take her masterpiece with her next week to the American Sewing Guild National Conference in Philadelphia, after which it will be on display at the Upton House and during the Italian-American Festival in Warren. Stoddart is president of the Niles chapter of the American Sewing Guild.

How they met

Taylor lived with her widowed father, Judge Ezra Taylor, at the Mahoning Avenue home in 1871 when they bought it from the Perkins family. Her father later became a congressman, and she moved to Washington, D.C., in 1880 to accompany him.

While in the nation's capital, Harriet Taylor and Susan B. Anthony became friends, and Taylor also met her future husband there.

Upton, a West Point graduate, was working for the war department when the couple met. Upton graduated from Columbia Law School and moved to Warren, where he practiced as a patent attorney.

Taylor was named treasurer of the National Women's Suffrage Association in 1892 and maintained the post for 15 years. In 1898, she became the first woman elected to the Warren school board.

She was a founding member of the National League of Women Voters, founder and first president of Warren's Red Cross and founder of the local DAR chapter. She became chairwoman of an Ohio Republican women's group in 1920 and was first woman vice chair of National Republican Executive Committee.

dick@vindy.com




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