Historic Portland Place Exhibit

Julia’s Wardrobe at Historic Portland Place
June 7- September 22, 2024

Julia Hartshorne

An exhibit of Julia Hartshorne’s exquisite 19th century gowns
presented in collaboration with the
Monmouth County Historical Association

 This summer visitors to Historic Portland Place will have the opportunity to view five custom-made 19th century gowns that once belonged to a fashionable member of the Hartshorne family.
In 1868, Julia Norton Hartshorne was fitted for an elegant wardrobe to take advantage of the latest style trends. These 150-year-old textiles have endured and are in remarkable condition. They help tell the story of Julia’s fashion sense and  lifestyle. 

 Julia's blue dress 

Julia Norton married Benjamin Hartshorne in California in 1862. Benjamin, who was raised in New Jersey along the Navesink River, relocated to San Francisco in 1850 to invest in steam transportation during the gold rush era. He maintained family ties and business interests in Monmouth County.

Julia and Benjamin likely visited the Portland Place farmstead during an 1868 extended trip to the region with their children. Benjamin’s cousins, Sarah and Mary, were actively farming there during this period. Although the farming sisters’ wardrobes would have been more utilitarian and basic than Julia’s, we can only imagine that they too would have admired such beautiful creations.

 Julia's dress with yellow trim  
After a brief illness, Julia died in 1869 in San Francisco at the age of 30. Benjamin packed away many of her belongings, including several trunks of lovely gowns, and returned with their three young children to Monmouth County. The trunks remained in the Hartshorne family care until 2018 when they were donated to the Monmouth County Historical Association’s textile collection by Mary Minturn Adams in memory of her Hartshorne ancestors.
It is fitting to have pieces from this remarkable collection on exhibit at Historic Portland Place as it was Julia and Benjamin’s great grandson, Daniel Ward Seitz, who bequeathed the property to the Monmouth County Park System in 2008.
Julia’s Wardrobe will be on view inside the historic house; house tours available Wednesday-Sunday at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. & 2:30 p.m.