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French Azilum presents

"Fashion in Exile"

Historic Clothing Exhibit in the period rooms of La Porte House at French Azilum

FRENCH AZILUM Official Website

. About ten miles below Towanda in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, French Azilum is located on a lovely horseshoe bend of the meandering Susquehanna River. Azilum, or Asylum, was appropriately named, for it provided a natural setting of undisturbed calm and pastoral serenity for a group of French exiles who settled here in the autumn of 1793.

Some of the refugees, because of their loyalty to the King, had left France to escape imprisonment or death at the hands of the Revolution. According to an unverified story, even Marie Antoinette, the queen of France, and her two children were to settle here.

. . . . In time, several small shops, a schoolhouse, a chapel, and a theatre appeared around the market square; dairying and sheep raising were begun; orchards and gardens were planted; a gristmill, blacksmith shop and a distillery were erected; and the manufacture of potash and pearlash was established. Although the domestic structures were crude, many had chimneys, wallpaper, window glass, shutters and porches to satisfy the desire for beauty and comfort, and some of the little luxuries and extravagances brought with them from their native lands kept alive the memory of better days.

La Porte House, built 1836

The most imposing building in the colony was "La Grande Maison", a two-story log structure eighty-four feet long and sixty feet wide. It had numerous small-paned windows and eight large fire places, and it has been said, although not proven, that it was to be the dwelling of the Queen. It was the scene of many social gatherings and among its guests were Talleyrand and Louis Phillipe, who was later to become King.
. . . . The phantasm of a quasi-aristocratic French court transplanted to a rustic sylvan environment, however, was to be of very short duration. By the early 19th century, economic depression set in and money was hard to obtain. Monetary support, and the income which the colony received from French sources stopped and many of the emigres drifted away.
Although a few families, the LaPortes, Homets, LeFevres, Brevosts and D'Autremonts remained in Pennsylvania where their progeny helped to settle Wysox, Wyalusing, Athens, Towanda and other communities, Azilum itself passed into history

Entry hall & front parlor

"As good be out of the World as out of the Fashion."

"To be out of fashion is to be out of life,"noted a commentator in the eighteenth century, and this, like many comments on social situations, is true. The way people dress is a reflection of their times as well as of their class, financial status and of the local weather.


From the late 18th to the mid-19th century, fashions in clothing were varied and fascinating, and ranged from the panniered Colonial silhouette,"classical" draperies of the early Napoleonic era, to the romantic outlines of the Victorian period.

A mansion such as The La Porte house would have hosted many social events and daily activities for the owner's family and friends.

The fashions in each room reflect the status of the wearers or activity that room might have reflected, and are grouped by historical period.

Visit the displays in the LaPorte House by clicking on the room you wish to see in the picture

HOME - LaPorte Bedroom - Regency Bedroom - Ladies' Parlor -
Back Parlor - Front Parlor - Library - Dining Room -

Guest Curator

. . . . . Lynn Symborski has been enamored with historic costume and fashion since childhood. A graphic artist by profession, she graduated from Moore College of Art in Philadelphia, where she received her degree in illustration and design. She and husband John are also directors of the Tapestry Historic Dance Ensemble, performing 17th, 18th and 19th century programs at historic sites in eastern Pennsylvania and NJ.

. . . . . As the historic seamstress "Williamsburg Rose", Lynn researches and recreates styles of dress from the Renaissance to the 20th century for individuals and events from re-enactors to bridal and museum work. Past projects include an 18th century black silk "calash" bonnet for Mount Vernon, George Washington's Virginia home, and textile conservation on authentic 18th and 19th century garments. Lynn also gives lecture-demonstrations on Colonial and Victorian fashions, and has worked with historic sites for period costume displays.

. . . . . In 2004 Lynn was a featured guest curator for "From Head to Toe", an 18th century clothing exhibit at Pottsgrove Manor in Pottstown, Pa., for which she also created a virtual-tour website. ( ). "Styled for the Season - Fashions of the Victorian and Edwardian Eras" and "Shades of White - Brides of Delaware County, 1860-1920" historic clothing exhibits from the masion's collection,
. . . . . When not involved in activities of Olden Times, John and Lynn tend to a family of pet parrots at their home in Pottstown, Pa. . 610-705-3568.

Reproduction Costumes & Accessories

. . . . . The reproductions shown have been meticulously researched using books, original patterns, and hands-on examination of extant garments from the period. A majority of the sewing and decoration was done by hand as it was 200 years ago. Since living in the 21st century does not allow enough time for the indulgence of exclusive hand stitching, machine sewing has been used on interior areas on many garments. The reproduction clothing was created by Lynn Symborski unless otherwise noted. All garments are personal interpretations of period styles and as such, are not meant as exact copies of existing pieces.
. . . . . Certain items, such as shoes, stockings and buckles are commercially available and obtainable from shops or sutlers specializing in 18th century reproductions. For these, the maker is not specified.

Comments or questions on this website? For info on the exhibit pieces or presentation:

HOME - LaPorte Bedroom - Regency Bedroom - Ladies' Parlor -
Back Parlor - Front Parlor - Library - Dining Room -