Costume Exhibit Opens – As We Were 1889

On Saturday, December 6th, the Society opened its latest costume exhibit, As We Were, featuring the fashions of our founding year, 1889. The exhibit connects two historical events, the first meeting to found the Historical Society, and the wedding of two prominent founders, Edna Hoyt Rogers and Henry Benjamin Rogers.

Edna Hoyt Rogers was a lifelong New Canaan resident and granddaughter of the founder of Hoyt’s Nurseries. She was involved in the Congregational Church as early as 1872, where at the age of 14, she helped raise money for a new organ. During the next 58 years, she worked to maintain the simple architectural design of the Church. Edna was further interested in, “Trying to keep undesirable developments from marring the beauty of the village,” which was of great importance to her. In 1901, she helped organize New Canaan’s Centennial Celebration.

Her husband, Henry Benjamin Rogers, grew up in Darien and in young adulthood became a clerk for New Canaan’s mercantile store, Comstock & Co. In 1860, he joined the firm of Comstock, Rogers & Co., where he and Albert S. Comstock sold and manufactured clothing. Upon Comstock’s retirement in 1876, Henry continued the business under the name H.B. Rogers & Co., until it was sold and turned into a shoe factory in 1903. Also active in the Congregational Church, Henry was a deacon as well as Sunday School Superintendent for 37 years.

Edna Hoyt Rogers and Henry Benjamin Rogers were married in her parent’s house on 477 Carter Street on November 10, 1888. Edna Hoyt’s father, Edwin Hoyt, built the home in 1859 by mixing together lime, gravel, and cobble stones from his own property. He created an affordable, concrete home that stood 26 feet high and contained three stories, 18 rooms, three halls, and two bathrooms.

A year later, Edna and Henry attended the first meeting regarding the formation of the New Canaan Historical Society in August of 1889. As descendants of the town’s founders, the family joined 62 others to discuss an organization that would gather and preserve New Canaan history. The meeting took place at the Comstock-Bensen house on 46 Main Street.

The Comstock-Bensen House, built in 1841, came under the ownership of Albert Comstock in 1871. Albert was a partner in the clothing firm of Comstock & Rogers, Co, where he and Henry B. Rogers manufactured men’s clothing. His wife was a founder and early president of the New Canaan Historical Society, while Albert was one of its first directors. It was in this house that the first of many Historical Society meetings were held.

As We Were ties together two snapshots of the year 1889, when New Canaan began to create and maintain its historical narrative. The exhibit features clothing like those that would have been worn at the Historical Society’s first meeting. Edna Hoyt Rogers wedding dress, as well as other dresses that would have been worn at a 19th century wedding reception, are also on display.

This exhibit will run until May 23, 2015 and is open to the public Tuesday – Friday 9:30-4:30 and Saturday 9:30-12:30. The exhibit is located in the Society’s Town House.

$5 Suggested donation.