Half a Century of Harris Lass Hats !


Ongoing exhibit, May - October



More than five decades of hats will be on display from May–October in a special fashion exhibit at the Harris-Lass House Museum, along with related clothing, purses, gloves and other accessories.  The theme of this exhibit is “A Half Century of Harris-Lass Hats”, and its goal is to call nostalgic attention to a time from the 1890s to the 1950s when head apparel was a necessity for a well-dressed lady.

Lass Family members whose hats are on display include Capt. Christian Lass, Fred Lass, Adolph Knauth (Uncle Orie), Mrs. Julia Lass, Johanna Haynes, Marguerite Knauth (Aunt Bertha), and Betty Stevens.  Mrs. Stevens, 91, of Scotts Valley, a great-granddaughter of Capt. Lass, remembers when her Grandmother Julia and Aunt Bertha “never left the house unless they wore a good dress and hat when they did grocery shopping on Franklin Street, the former hub of Santa Clara’s business district.

“We caught the street car near the Carmelite Monastery and rode to San Jose to buy our hats at Hale’s and Hart’s department stores,” said Mrs. Stevens.  “The more expensive hats, those in the $50 and $75 range, were always purchased at millinery stores in San Francisco.”

The exhibit will feature hats arranged by decades and themes in each room of the house.  There will be men’s felt hats, formal beaver top hats, and Masonic Lodge ritual hats, baby bonnets, christening gowns, fancy hair ribbons, bedtime night caps, hair curling accessories, and gardening straw hats.  The exhibit will portray a time when hats were an important part of a lady’s wardrobe.  Whether it was a bonnet with flowers for a wedding, veiling for a funeral, or feathers for a social event, hats were a symbol of dignity and prestige.

See our Home Page for open days or leave an inquiry on the Harris-Lass Museum message line at 408-249-7905 .