Dress of the Week: Gertrude Hohenadel

Oct 3, 2023 | Articles & Exhibits

Each week during the Here Comes the Bride exhibit, the history of one of the dresses will be featured on the website and social media. Visit these dresses and more in person from June 2 and extended through October 7, 2023, at the David L. Pierce Art & History Center. Exhibit hours will be listed below the article.

Gertrude Rebecca Huehn (1853-1923) married Theodore Hohenadel (1853-1936) in this dress on November 11, 1879 in Chicago.

The dress represents the height of fashion for the late 1870s, with a corseted waist and exaggerated rear bustle. The heavy cream-colored satin underskirt features a ruffled hem. The patterned gold overskirt, trimmed with chenille fringe, is gathered up and draped, and features a long train. The dress has elbow-length sleeves with
ruffled tulle undersleeves.

The dress still has attached artificial wax orange blossoms, the traditional flower for brides in the 19th century. Normally, if the dress was to be worn on other occasions (as they often were in this era) these would have been removed after the wedding. Because the orange blossoms are still attached, we know that the dress was worn only for the wedding and then put away.

The bride and groom raised their children and lived their lives out in Chicago. So how did this beautiful dress of a Chicago bride make its way to Aurora?   Gertrude’s namesake daughter, Gertrude Marie Hohenadel Wortman (1891-1986), was responsible.  In 1922, she married Glen R. Wortman (1891-1958), a Chicago-born investment banker who had transplanted to Aurora a few years earlier.  The couple made their home on the west side of Aurora, where they raised their twin sons; both she and her husband lived the rest of their days in Aurora.  It was Gertrude who donated her mother’s beautiful dress to the Historical Society.

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