Over half a century of hats are currently accessorizing the rooms of Santa Clara’s historic Harris-Lass home, breathing additional life into the beautiful Italianate home.
“A Half Century of Harris-Lass Hats,” came about when volunteers were looking for a way to market the home and get more visitors interested in attending. “Somebody said we have so much in this house so let’s do something, and then someone said, ‘let’s do hats,'” said Mary Ann Marinshaw, a volunteer who helped put the exhibit together and loaned some of her own hats, gloves and bags to the display. “We have all these hats that were left that are just stored in the closet. Let’s put them on display.”
The process of finding, dating and deciding which hats would be displayed was quite the task for Marinshaw and the “four or five” volunteers who helped prepare the exhibit. “We all got together to date them, clean them and repair them as much as we could,” she said. “We had vacuum cleaners and brushes – pins and needles. I think we did a really excellent job.”
The exhibit, which will be on display through September and contains a century of hats, begins with the Victorian era (one bonnet is from 1845) and continues, decade-by-decade, until approximately the 1960s when wearing hats became less popular. Many displays also contain clothing, purses and gloves of the time period.
The Harris-Lass House Museum is open from noon to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9 and Sunday, Aug. 10 and Saturday, Sept. 6 and Sunday, Sept. 21. However, Marinshaw is happy to give tours of the home outside of the official museum dates.
“If anybody wants a tour, we can do it during the week,” she said. “We don’t have to do it just on dates that are dated. I will gladly come down here and open the house for two, three, four people … Come and enjoy it. We put in the time and effort and it’s here for the city. It’s not here just for us that volunteer here. It’s here for the public. Learn about the house. It’s been here since 1865 and we are desperately trying to keep it up and keep it going.”
Lass family members with hats on display include: Captain Christian Lass, Fred Lass, Adolph Knauth (Uncle Orie), Julia Lass, Johanna Haynes, Marguerite Knauth (Aunt Bertha) and Betty Stevens.
Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and $1 for children 6-12. For additional information visit, www.harrislass.org or call 408-249-7905. To set up a tour outside of the museum’s scheduled dates, contact Marinshaw at 408-248-7897.