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 through August 12, 2023, at the David L. Pierce Art & History Center. Exhibit hours will be listed below the article.
This dress was worn by Martha “Mattie” Tanner (1853-1940), daughter of Aurora pioneer William Tanner, for her wedding to Rev. Charles Thornton (1850-1928), a local Methodist minister. The couple married in the parlor of her parents’ home on the near west side of Aurora, now the William Tanner House Museum, on December 6, 1882. While her marriage to a minister took her away from Aurora with his various pastorates, Aurora was never far from her heart.
In 1936, at 83 years old, Martha and her twin sister, Mary Tanner Hopkins, donated the old family homestead to the Aurora Historical Society, dedicating it to the memory of their parents. Until her death, Martha helped the museum by paying for many repairs and improvements.
This burgundy satin dress, with narrow skirt and protruding bustle, features dark velvet lapels and cuffs on the bodice and velvet banding on the skirt, along with exquisite sparkling beadwork in floral patterns. Evidence of wear indicates the dress was used many times after the wedding. It was donated to the Aurora Historical Society in 1941, just months after her death.