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Exhibit dresses up Monroe museum
Times photo: Tere Dunlap Alice (Knoff) Brooks 1990 wedding gown fills the stair case at the Green County Historical Societys presentation of 27 Dresses at the GCHS museum on Ninth Street in Monroe. The museum is open 1-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The display runs until Sept. 28. Order photo
MONROE - Lace has been a favorite of local brides for their wedding gowns for over 100 years.

With simple lace sleeves to layers upon layers of lace skirts, wedding dresses of area brides are on display until Sept. 28 at the Green County Historical Society Museum in Monroe.

The dresses, spanning 118 years of weddings, show the striking differences in and variety of bridal wear.

Two examples are Lucy (Morgan) Deans 1891 deep burgundy, two-piece wedding suit, complete with a feather in the hat, and Sherry (Einbeck) Curlers' 1963 gown of multi-layered white lace netting, displayed side-by-side.

Deans' jacket fastens on the right side with hooks, and the skirt is full of pleats. The jacket's fitted waist is so small, the suit would not fit a mannequin.

Curlers' gown with its sequined bodice and layers of lace belle skirt was the hardest wedding dress in the display to clean. The last bride to marry in the museum's building when it was still the Universalist Church, Curlers has donated her gown to the museum.

The presentation, named "27 Dresses," had been a dream display of Christie Strait, a member of the historical society, for about three years.

"I said they needed to be up in June, the month most brides choose to be married," she said.

The name of the display was the idea of Matt Figi, based on the movie "27 Dresses," about a young woman who had been a bridesmaid, but never a bride, 27 times.

Strait and Figi started looking for brides' dresses in May to add to the dresses from their families.

Jake Scherer from One Hour Cleaners offered to steam the wrinkles out of many of the dresses on display.

Before the presentation opened May 31, they had received 31 dresses dating from 1889 to 2007, and no two are the same in design or fabric.

Strait said it takes a half hour to cover the dresses each week before the museum closes and another half hour to uncover them.

Strait's own wedding dress hangs among the collection, as does that of her mother, her daughter and daughter-in-law.

"As you can see mine is very practical. I wanted something I could wear again," said Strait. Strait, who had a military wedding to husband Stewart, wore a simple white dress with a white jacket - very much a Jackie Kennedy style.

Strait's mother's dress was not easy to locate. Strait had to call a nephew to find her mother's cedar chest. He didn't remember where it was. When he did find it, he called Strait to say there wasn't anything in it, except a little girl's dress, which he described - a small greenish gray dress with embroidering at the collar.

"That's it," she told him. "Mother was only 5 feet, 2 inches."

Dresses run the color palate. Some are royal blue and buttercream yellow. Rusty brown and electric blue complement the traditional whites.

"One thing people mention the most is the range of colors in the dresses," Strait said.

Barb Wyss's grandmother, Amelia Hoesly, was married in 1889 at the age of 14. Her rusty brown, full skirted dress echoed the fall colors of her October wedding. Della (Roeser) Showers, married in 1913 in black.

Anna (Figi) Koch was married in a short electric blue dress in 1935. The dress had daring slit sleeves and peek-a-boo strips of netting across the top of the bodice, and was accented with silver clasps.

Visitors can view the display of wedding dresses at the museum from 1-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The Green County Historical Society Museum is located at 1617 Ninth St. in Monroe. Admission is $2 for adults; children are free.