News Column

Civil War events slated in Somerset to celebrate sesquicentennial

May 28, 2014

By Tom Lavis, The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.

May 28--SOMERSET -- The Somerset Historical Center joins the nationwide sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War by offering a unique fashion show and dinner, as well as welcoming a traveling historical exhibit.

On June 7, "The Civil War in Pennsylvania," an exhibit created by the Senator John Heinz History Center, explores the Civil War from this region's perspective through four life-like museum figures, artifacts and photographs.

Civil War-related artifacts from Somerset County soldiers will also be displayed, along with journals and documents from that era, and a wall of faces including more than 250 pictures of Somerset County soldiers.

The exhibit will be on view through Aug. 8.

Also on June 7, the Historical and Genealogical Society of Somerset County will sponsor "From the Battlefield to the Homefront: A Civil War Fashion Show and Dinner" at 6 p.m. at the Friedens Lutheran Church along Route 281 in Friedens.

"The program will feature period-authentic reproduction fashions of both ladies and gentlemen, rich and poor alike, as well as military attire," said Katie Cordek, the historical center's education coordinator. "Re-enactors who have been active in Civil War living history programs and re-enacting communities will bring the fashions of 150 years ago to life with commentary about that era."

The dresses and uniforms will follow the style, patterns, and fabrics of original garments as closely as possible, right down to the buttons that held them together. "Much as fashion trends change today, so did they back then," said Cordek. "There were notable changes in fashion between the start of the war and its end."

During the evening, approximately 80 different garments and several unique outfits will be on display.

Creation of reproduction garments can involve hundreds of hours of research and work to ensure authenticity.

The re-created clothing is never considered a costume.

"There is a tremendous amount of research in a period-correct garment be it for a gentleman or lady," Cordek said. "Even undergarments are a must to give the correct form."

Cordek said uniforms for volunteer units were produced not according to the specifications of national war departments but to those of state militia authorities or even units themselves.

"They were issued not from central quartermaster depots but from local storehouses or even purchased from tailors by individuals," she said.

Cost of the event is $30 a person.

A limited number of tickets and required reservations are requested by noon Sunday by calling 445-6077.

A catered dinner will be served at 6 p.m. followed by the fashion show.

The menu features tossed salad, chicken breast stuffed with roasted bell peppers and spinach, roasted red Parmesan potatoes, steamed vegetables and a roll with butter.

Reservations are required and may be made by calling 445-6077. No tickets will be sold at the door.

Free admission to the Civil War exhibit at the Historical Center is included with each ticket.

On July 12, the Historical Society will host "Between the Lines" a live performance by historically dressed interpreters; reading Civil War letters and diaries of Somerset soldiers and family members combined with period music.

"This is a very unique event, and with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War drawing to a close, it is the perfect time to witness a little about the war that made America what it is today," Cordek said. "These programs are intended to give a glimpse of the Civil War beyond the battlefield."

Tom Lavis covers Features for the Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on LavisTD.

A look back

What: "From the Battlefield to the Homefront: A Civil War Fashion Show and Dinner."

Where: At the Friedens Lutheran Church along Route 281 in Friedens.

When: 6 p.m.June 7.

Reservations: Call 445-6077 by noon Sunday.

Cost: $30 a person.

What:"The Civil War in Pennsylvania."

Where: Somerset Historical Center, 10649 Somerset Pike.

When: June 7 through Aug. 8.

Information: 445-6077.

Admission: $6 for adults and $3 for children ages 3 to 11.


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