Dresses of silk, lace and satin.
Hats of all styles, colors and textiles.
Even masquerade masks.
Times Observer photos by Brian Ferry
A display of Gene Alden Walker Crary’s personal wardrobe including 85 hats — many from Rose Descat of Paris, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Jay Thorpe of New York — and 21 dresses. An unmarked hat sits between hat boxes marked Rose Descat 22 Rue Royale, Paris, and Saks Fifth Avenue.
The textile collection of Gene Crary is on display at the Warren County Historical Society.
"Gene Walker Crary was an artist, portrait painter, and wife of Warren benefactor Clare Crary," Historical Society Managing Director Michelle Gray said. "She graduated from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and studied under American painters Charles Hawthorne and Terry Farnworth at the National Academy of Design in New York and became a well-known artist who won many awards. Her work is in the permanent collections at the National Academy of Design and Montgomery Museum of Art."
The Crarys traveled the world during the middle of the 20th Century, according to Meredith McIntosh. Most of the hat boxes carry Saks Fifth Avenue labels or the markings of 22 Rue Royale, Paris.
Gene Crary lived in Warren from the 1920s through her death in 1988. The Crarys purchased the Roman villa-style home at 511 Market Street and used it as an art gallery. It bears their name today.
For decades, Crary's collection of dresses and hats was stored in a closet at the Crary Art Gallery. Former Crary board member Diane DeLarme asked about archiving the textiles to better preserve them.
DeLarme asked Gray about putting the collection on display. Some pieces had been exhibited at the Historical Society in the past, but nothing close to the entire collection.
"We both felt that the collection should be displayed prior to archiving," Gray said.
"After many years, the textile collection of 21 vintage dresses and 85 hats belonging to Gene Crary has finally come out of the closet," DeLarme said. "The exhibit will be on display through March 28 at the Warren County Historical Society (on Fourth Avenue). The items are on loan from the Crary Art Gallery where they have been housed for over 60 years."
Prior to archiving the collection, DeLarme and Gray agreed that the dresses and hats should be displayed publicly.
The display includes "an amazing number of dazzling felt, fur, straw, linen, velour, and velveteen hats in all styles and colors from the 1940s and 1950s," DeLarme said. "Also on display is stunning attire of spring and summer dresses reminiscent of Sunday's best: dresses tailor-made of silk, lace, and satin, several evening gowns, a cocktail dress, multiple soiree ensembles, summer frocks and more."
The Historical Society is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. It will be closed on Friday, March 29, but open from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 30.