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exhibition overview

In the last half of the nineteenth century, Madison was a community on the wane economically. Jobs had shifted to the manufacturing centers, and young people followed the jobs. When the growing middle class discovered that Madison was a good place to spend their newfound leisure time, the economy of Madison was revived. The community embraced the opportunity that the summer colonists brought, and soon Madison was promoted as the "Gem of the Connecticut Shore." This intriguing exhibition revealed the ways that the community responded to the needs and desires of the vacationers and cottagers who came to the shoreline for rest and recreation.

highlights from the collection

Photograph of boat full of summer residents with West Wharf and fish house visible in the background

Turn of the century wicker picnic basket with handle

Detail of Madison Beach Hotel vintage painted, paneled wood sign from the turn of the century

Detail of "Summer Days" children's book copyright 1884

Vintage straw hat with velvet band

Traditional fashion etiquette dictated not wearing white before Memorial Day. Strongly associated with the privileged lifestyle, white clothing set the fashion standard in summer wear.

To view more images from this exhibit, visit our Business of Leisure Flickr album.

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