Villa Louis Presents: And the Bride Wore: 50 Years of Wisconsin Wedding Fashion

Saturday, May 13, 2017 - Sunday, September 10, 2017

Monday-Thursday, 10am - 3pm | Friday-Sunday, 10am - 4pm

EnlargeIsabella Mendel, Wedding Gown, White Silk, 1869

Isabella Mendel, Wedding Gown, White Silk, 1869


EnlargeVirginia Dousman Wedding Dress

Virginia Dousman in Wedding Dress


Villa Louis will open its 2017 season with a new exhibit that will be displaying fifty years of Wisconsin fashion as seen through wedding dresses. 

The exhibit, “And the Bride Wore: 50 Years of Wisconsin Wedding Fashion,” showcases the changing styles of Wisconsin Brides through twelve wedding dresses and one groom’s suit dating from the years 1857 – 1907.  The exhibit was designed to focus on the era of women who lived in the Villa Louis Mansion.  

Of the many styles to be represented will be the wedding dress worn by Villa Louis resident, Virginia Dousman, when she was married at Villa Louis in 1904.  Taken together these dresses represent the fashions, trends, and fads the Dousman women would have known, experienced, and worn in Villa Louis.

Curated by Leslie Bellais, curator of social history at the Wisconsin Historical Society, this beautiful exhibit of wedding dresses will give viewers an opportunity to learn about each of the women’s lives at the time of their wedding.  Through the wedding dresses, each woman will have the opportunity to have their story told.  The dresses have long been preserved and range in materials from silk, to lace, and even wool.  During this time, brides used a wide variety of colors for their dresses which is represented in the collection including a brown, blue, copper, and the now traditional white dress. 

During opening weekend (May 13, 2017) and weekends in June, Villa Louis will expand the exhibit even further by letting visitors taste historically baked replica wedding cakes and punch. 

Set-up throughout the mansion, the exhibit will be on display through September 10, 2017 and will coincide with the Villa Louis Mansion tour.  Villa Louis is open daily from May 13 – Nov. 12. 


Villa Louis
Villa Louis, 521 Villa Louis Rd
Prairie du Chien, WI 53821

Location Information

The historic Villa Louis mansion is the centerpiece of a grand Victorian estate built by the family of Hercules Dousman, a frontier entrepreneur who amassed a fortune in the fur trade and other frontier investments. The mansion has just undergone a top-to-bottom documentary restoration that has returned the Dousman home to the splendor of its 1890s heyday, using British Arts and Crafts interior designs inspired by famed designer William Morris.

Accessibility Information

Reasonable accommodations will be made for individuals requiring wheelchairs for mobility. Call ahead to make arrangements.