An 1800’s Wedding Dress Heirloom

Family heirlooms hold a special piece of history that gets passed down from generation to generation. The Payseur family made it a point to preserve their piece of history that’s over 120 years old: a great grandmother’s wedding gown from 1895.

Alice E. Prevo married Harry D. Irwin in Indiana on June 5, 1895. Prevo’s father, Samuel, owned a men’s haberdashery called The Model Store which eventually expanded into the family department store: Prevo and Sons. The store eventually closed in 1992. You could say style was always in the family.


The dress was ordered from New York City, but that’s the only information the Payseur family knows about the dress’s background. It was stored in the original tissue and box it was shipped in and has remained in a closet for many years.

“When my husbands’ Aunt moved, she asked everyone in the family who would like it [the wedding dress] and we were the lucky recipients,” Payseur said.

This fabulous dress is made of silk with silk bows and some lace on the front. Although the fabric is very delicate, it was fully intact and therefore able to withstand very careful and meticulous hand cleaning and pressing. The preservation process had to be handled very gently, but we wanted to give new life to the dress.

The dress has leg of mutton sleeves (because that’s what they resemble when worn), a high neckline and bows, very common with the 1890’s women’s Victorian dress style. The fact that the dress is a two-piece is also common for the times. We set up the dress on a mannequin and stuffed the shoulders to show what it would’ve looked like when it was worn.

Prevo’s great-great granddaughter will now have multiple generations of wedding dresses: her own dress from 2011, her mom’s dress, her grandmother’s dress, her great-grandmother’s dress and now her great-great grandmother’s gown. Talk about family heirlooms!

“Thank you to all your staff for preserving this piece of family history for us,” Payseur added.

If you have any questions about wedding gowns, specialty or vintage items to be cleaned or preserved, please visit Treasured Garment Restoration.