photo size: 8 3/4" x 10 3/4"
July 29, 1966
Chicago Daily News
One Glencoe home boasts a basement of wall-to-wall clothes. Mrs. Wallace W. McIlwain owns the home and the 300 antique dresses that line the basement.
"I don't have the slightest interest in fashion" Mrs. Wallace W. McIlwain announced. And yet this Glencoe grandmother can point with pride to her collection of 300 antique gowns - a collection that started as a hobby and turned into a moneymaker.
It was her interest in theatre and history rather than fashion that made Jean McIlwain decide to become a collector of dresses from out of America's past. It's her "sense of theatre" that keeps her showing the gowns.
And that same love for the theatrical guides the way she displays her collection. Mrs. McIlwain never shows gowns alone. Her dresses are always modeled by pretty girls who bring to life scripts written by Mrs. McIlwain.
"I want to reach out and "hook" people, said the gray-haired and bespectacled Mrs. McIlwain " and how better can I do it than with pretty girls?"
Not incidentally, she makes good money from the shows she presents to various business and charity groups. But Mrs. Mcilwain, who was widowed in 1963, is quick to note that she does not support herself by showing old dresses. "The income is just whipped cream," she said.
The dress collection began as an outgrowth of Mrs. McIlwain's work with Glencoe's Threshold Theatre, an organization in which she has been active since 1938. Then she started giving shows for various groups. Her first script was written in 1952 for her own church, St. Elisabeth Episcopal in Glencoe.
(tear upper right corner)
$90 un-matted - $140 matted* - $325 framed**
*All matted photographs come standard in acid free white archival mat board with black core with 3-4" borders and open cut mat on back to display historical documentation. Custom mat board available at additional cost.
**All framed photographs come with standard matting, conservation glass, open cut mat on back
displaying historical documentation, and black Larson Juhl wood frame.