Before Jackie O, There was Grace Coolidge

May 22, 2015

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“Mrs. Coolidge is a veritable ‘glass of fashion.’ Everything she wears is the last word from the swanky shops that line the fashionable shopping district along Connecticut Avenue, and she seldom ‘repeats,’ especially in evening gowns.” Washington Herald, January 27, 1929
Jackie Kennedy has long been renowned for her laudable fashion sense and regal stature. During JFK’s presidency she sparkled on the national stage. Yet there was another first lady who was the Jackie of her time. At Plymouth Notch she is the Queen of all our hearts: Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge. Wife, mother, and First Lady of the United States, Grace warmed the hearts of all who knew her. She provided the family space and social grace that allowed her husband Calvin to succeed in the White House. The American people recognized what a gem they had in her, and we continue to celebrate the life of this great woman.

We invite you to visit the 2015 Season Exhibit at the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site, which stands as a living memorial to Grace. Organized by William Jenney, the Historic Site Administrator, the exhibit highlights the First Lady’s tremendous sartorial splendor, featuring five beautiful gowns from the collection of the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, as well as other assorted accouterments, including handbags, hats, fans, and jewelry. Many of the items in the exhibit have never been displayed before, and the gowns themselves have not been on display in more than two decades.

The President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site opens for the season on Saturday, May 23 at 9:30 AM, and to mark this occasion opening day will feature a 2:00 PM lecture by Sarah C. Stevens on the care and handling of historic costumes. Ms. Stevens is a textile conservator with Zephyr Preservation Studio in Albany, NY. Following her remarks the Site will host an afternoon social, featuring the musical talents of Abigail Charbeneau at the “Grace Coolidge Piano.”

The President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site is open daily May 23 – Oct. 18, 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM. For further information, call 802.672.3773, or visit the state-owned historic sites online at historicsites.vermont.gov.

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Portrait of Mrs. Calvin Coolidge, 1928.
Frank O. Salisbury, artist

This oil and canvas portrait was painted when the Coolidges visited Sapelo Island, Georgia. The sitter’s gown, ostrich feather fan, and jade jewelry are part of the Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site’s collection. (Courtesy of the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation).

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Coolidge Blog

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Some of our anniversaries are more significant than others. This Great War anniversary is most definitely one that warrants public recognition and solemn commemoration. And it is especially meaningful for those of us born in the last century.

Why? The war was a mighty engine of destruction and change. The old order of things was consumed by it, with a new order taking its place. The war, no doubt, became the greatest historical force shaping the 20th Century. For example, in its wake, the United States would rise to the status of a major world power. In far off Russia, the Czarist regime would be replaced the Soviet Union, which would attempt through force and subterfuge to impose its communist ideology on the world. In the Middle East, the consequences of the break up of the Ottoman Empire into small, artificial states still haunt us to this day.

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