Hats, gloves, jewelry: The ’50s woman’s style

Hats, gloves, jewelry: The ’50s woman’s style

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SPARTA — A woman who owned a hat shop adjacent to Manhattan’s Carnegie Hall in the 1950s and a woman from Bernardsville, who loved hats and bought several from Pola’s whenever she was in the city, are together again, in spirit, in the current exhibit at the VanKirk Homestead Museum on Route 517.

The hat collection was donated to the museum some time ago after Nancy Madacsi, curator of the show, bought a couple of hats at an auction.

“After the sale, her daughter (Ann Giordano) asked if I wanted the ones that didn’t sell,” she said in explaining how the Sparta Historical Society’s museum came into possession of the 52 hats, complete with boxes, from Pola Schreiber’s shop.


While neither woman was directly related to Sparta or the VanKirk family, Madacsi’s research found a 1952 copy of Sussex Magazine, which featured the life of a Sussex County farmer’s wife, complete with her dressed to go out for the evening, wearing a hat.

“In the ’50s was when women still wore hats,” Madacsi said, and the original owner of the hats “was a wealthy woman from Bernardsville who wanted to dress up.”

The curator’s research tracked down the owner of Pola, a 1941 immigrant from Poland who opened her hat shop in 1948 and ran it until 1962 when Carnegie Hall decided to tear down adjacent buildings to build the current complex.

The exhibit opened Sunday and will be open on June 11 and 25.

Opening on July 9 with showings on July 23 and Aug. 13 and 27, will be “Through a Photographer’s Eye … Images of VanKirk Homestead.” The show features photographs taken by members of the Sparta Camera Club of the museum or its grounds.

Madacsi said the hat exhibit, which also features costume jewelry, gloves and other accessories from the 1940s and 1950s, was designed to show how women in post-World War II tried to retain a style, which died in the ’60s jeans and T-shirt days.

There are no formal lectures accompanying the show, but numerous placards explaining the displays and museum volunteers will be available to answer questions.

The museum is open the second and fourth Sundays of the month through December from 1 to 4 p.m.

The museum, which is located at 336 Main St., off the driveway to Sparta Middle School, can accommodate groups with a talk by calling 973-726-0883

Bruce A. Scruton can also be contacted on Twitter: @brucescrutonNJH or by phone: 973-383-1224