On June 13, 1820, at the age of 40, hardware merchant Seabury Tredwell married 23-year-old Eliza Parker at St. George’s Episcopal Church on Chapel Street (now Beekman). The couple met when Seabury was a lodger in a boarding house run by Eliza’s mother. They lived on Dey Street until 1835, when they moved their family of seven children “uptown” to the exclusive Bond Street area. The house on East Fourth Street cost $18,000 and boasted “every modern convenience.” Seabury and Eliza were married for 45 years, until Seabury’s death in 1865. Eliza died in 1882.
On display, through August 4: Eliza Tredwell’s 1820 Empire-style embroidered cotton wedding dress. In the last quarter of the 18th century, fashionable ladies adopted a simpler, lighter, and looser columnar style inspired by classical statues — often in fine, nearly transparent white cotton muslin that imitated marble. The style reflected the neoclassical movement that swept the Western world, beginning in the 18th century and continuing into the 19th century.
The hem of this dress (above right) was most likely embroidered by a skilled artisan in India. The embroidered muslin would then be shipped to the west, sold in bolts, and joined to a hand-made cotton bodice (above left) by a dressmaker.