Through February, the Worthington Historical Society is showing visitors how outerwear has changed over time with a display of capes.

Correction: Because of a reporter's error, the Nov. 21 print version of this story incorrectly stated the month the Worthington Historical Society would be closed. It will be closed in January.

Through February, the Worthington Historical Society is showing visitors how outerwear has changed over time with a display of capes.

The display at the historical society, 50 W. New England Ave. in Worthington, features four 19th-century capes made of different fabrics. They were donated to the museum as part of its clothing collection.

Two of the capes were worn by prominent women of Worthington: Fondelia Ruth Griswold, who lived in the Griswold Inn with her husband, Worthington Franklin Griswold, and their 14 children, and one from the Gilbert family, who owned a home on the site of Dewey's Pizza, 640 High St., said Kate LaLonde, director of the Worthington Historical Society.

Griswold was the daughter of Peter Stout Ruth, who was the leader of St. John's Episcopal Church, 700 High St. in Worthington from 1861 to 1863, according to the Ohio History Connection. She was the last occupant of the Griswold Inn after it was converted from an inn into a residence.

The inn was constructed in 1811 by pioneer Ezra Griswold on the northeast corner of the Village Green at state Route 161 and High Street, and it was demolished in early 1964, according to worthingtonmemory.org.

Meanwhile, the Gilbert family were early settlers of Worthington, and their house, which has been moved from its original location to 72 E. Dublin-Granville Road, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Susan Whitaker, curator for the historical society, said capes were used as covers for the overbuilt sleeves that were popular on dresses in the 19th century. She said they were used for anything from winter warmth over normal clothes to more decorated ones for more formal occasions.

Whitaker said the capes were made of burnout velvet, lace, silk faille and other materials. The Gilbert cape is made of burnout velvet, and the Griswold cape is silk faille.

The four capes on display would have been worn by women, LaLonde said.

Whitaker said the society frequently has a hard time acquiring historical men's clothing because it "was worn out" and was not typically saved.

She said capes were used by both men and women until the 1860s, when man women started using shorter capes. She said the shorter capes were used until the 1930s, when coats with sleeves became more common.

"Sleeved coats became popular in the 1930s," Whitaker said. "By the end of the 1920s, these type of capes were rarely seen."

She said this trend mostly was due to a change in fashion and the changing of women's roles after World War I, as the women's suffrage movement started and women began working.

"Women had a different role," Whitaker said. "It's not practical to run around in a dress with a bustle or hoop or any other kind of support."

Whitaker said capes, ponchos and shawls still are popular, especially for more formal events.

"You might be looking for a cape, especially to go over your outfit if it's elaborate," she said. "There's no way you could stuff it into your sleeved coat and nor would you look as elaborate."

LaLonde said the capes would be on display through February. However, the historical society is closed for the month of January, she said. Admission to the historical society is free.

The society also has an extensive doll museum, with dolls and accessories from the 19th and 20th centuries. The doll museum costs $2 for a self-guided tour; guided tours for groups may be scheduled for $3 per person.

For more information about the Worthington Historical Society, go to worthingtonhistory.org.

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