Sedgwick House Museum Models The Past

Museum’s antique dresses used by photography club

MARTINS FERRY — Thanks to donations from the public, the Sedgwick House Museum in Martins Ferry has an extensive collection of vintage clothing — including wedding dresses.

A local photography club took advantage of this dress collection recently, having some of its members pose as models in the dresses from the 1950s and ’60s, said John Applegarth, a volunteer at the museum.

Don Mew, who works as an electrician for the city of Martins Ferry, is a member of the club and took the photos of the women in the dresses. Fellow city worker Keith Wilson also is a member of club.

Mew and Applegarth plan to have the photos printed and framed for people to view inside the museum, which is open via appointment to the public.

“We’re hoping it drives people there. … We want to get people back in there — it’s a neat place,” Mew said.

The museum photos, along with a variety of others, can also be seen at

Mew said he has been a photographer for many years, having taken wedding photos in the past. However, now he enjoys taking photos as a hobby, noting wedding photography can be a stressful job. Having a person model at the museum, which contains numerous pieces of original furniture and artifacts, was, in contrast, enjoyable, he said.

“In high school we used film; now, with the new digital camera, it makes it easier. You had to know what you’re doing back then. Digital makes it faster and easier,” Mew noted.

Mew uses a couple different software programs to tone his photos, and sometimes to manipulate them. For example, in one of the dress photos he digitally added a blazing fire in the fireplace behind the model at the Sedgwick. In another photo, he made it appear as though candles in the room were lit.

Applegarth said much of the vintage and antique clothing has been donated to the museum in honor of someone who has passed away. Sometimes families of the deceased simply don’t want the clothing, but also don’t want it to be thrown away. Instead, they give it to the museum.

One article Applegarth appreciates is the dress uniform from former fire chief Sam Heaton, which dates to the late 1800s, he said. Another article is an old West Point uniform, he noted.

“There is all kinds of stuff up there,” Applegarth added.

Mew and Wilson also do some short film work along with the photography.

About the Museum

The Sedgwick House Museum, located at 627 Hanover St., was built in 1870. It was donated to the city, which in turn created a historical society to operate the museum. It was named for Leroy Sedgwick, who was the co-founder and editor of The Evening Times newspaper in 1891; it later became The Times Leader.

The house contains several of the original pieces of furniture used by the Sedgwick family, along with china and garments, such as the dresses. It also serves as repository of historical items related to Martins Ferry’s businesses, doctors, authors and more.

In recent years, the Martins Ferry Historical Society put a new roof on the building, along with new gutters and downspouts. They also covered the original windows with storm windows. The most recent projects including repointing of the brickwork and repainting of the entire building.

Tours of the museum are done via appointment. To book a tour, call Applegarth at 740-633-2648. A donation of any amount can be given to enter the museum. While visitors can make a donation to enter the museum, people also can become members of the historical society. The yearly cost is $10 for an individual and $15 for a couple, business or organization. Donations or membership checks written to “Martins Ferry Historical Society” can be mailed to: Box 422, Martins Ferry, OH 43935.

Those who donate $50 or more get a letter of thanks, as the society does not have the funds to purchase membership cards. Becoming a member helps run the museum and also grants access during tours without having to donate at the door.

Amber Fleming of Martins Ferry models a wedding dress from the 1940s topped with a short cape from the late 1800s. The photos were taken by Don Mew inside the Sedgwick House Museum in Martins Ferry. Photos Provided