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Anna & Laura Tirocchi – Dressmakers to the Elite

12 Feb

(Recycled post)

The Prentice Mansion at 514 Broadway, Providence, site of the shop operated by sisters Anna and Laura Tirocchi from 1915 to 1947.

Anna Tirocchi

Anna & Laura Tirocchi were a famed and successful dressmaking sister team I  happened to come across because of my interest in a British t.v. series called The House of Elliot (apparently, partly based on the Tirocchis).

What a complete surprise it was to find her business was patronized by some  Braytons,  Mrs. Dwight Waring (daughter of  Lizzie’s defense attorney, Andrew Jennings) et.al. of Fall River.  And from Providence, we have Preston Gardner’s wife Mary, and daughter, Maude, all of whom received considerable money and jewelry from Emma’s Will.

Another notable from Providence is Mrs. William G. Thurber, whose husband was Vice President of  Tilden-Thurber, the store where Lizzie shoplifted two paintings on porcelain only 4 years after her acquittal.  An incident in which Preston Gardner came to the rescue and an action for which Emma Borden was eternally grateful.

Anyway, back to the Tirocchi sisters. They operated a shop in Providence from 1911 to the mid 1930’s.  The stock market crash was the beginning of   it’s demise.  Anna said that 1927 was their “best year ever.”

If you’ve already read the basic background linked above, consider their elite client list that reads like a Who’s Who of  Fall River’s and Providence’s upper crust.

When you click on Client list you can then click on a woman’s name.  You then find out who her husband was.  Then you can click on “Transactions” for what she purchased (keep in mind that a dress costing $200 had the equivalent purchasing power of nearly $2,400 in today’s money), and “Correspondence” for letters she wrote and/or received.

Tirocchi’s  clientele is addressed   HERE. (then click “The Clients”)

One notable is Jessie Brayton – John Summerfield Brayton, Sr.

It was Jessie’s husband who was the recipient of  the well known letter written on August 31, 1900 by Lizzie Borden about his  noisy bird that crowed so loudly and made her nervous.  My, my.  Talk about dress threads that bind!

Her grandson was extremely accomplished, and it was his father, John Summerfield Brayton III, who was the discoverer  of  that above mentioned letter.

Not only did Anna keep precise records of sales and who these women were married to but she had all their measurements – not surprising for a dressmaker but enlightening to Borden researchers. Here’s the one for Mrs. Elizabeth Brayton.

This entire website is a marvel to explore and a person can spend a good two hours finding out who these women were.  I was getting visions of that film “The Women” directed by George Cukor – the early scenes of the ladies in the dressing rooms ….  but I digress.

Anna Tirocchi in the Butler Exchange workroom, making the final adjustments to a dress; ca. 1914.

The contents of the Tirocchi dress shop at 514 Broadway was offered to the Rhode Island School of Design Museum by sister Laura’s son, Dr. Louis Cella, Jr.   No wonder the staff, inventorying for over year,  was thrilled with what they found!!  Indeed, so was I.

And a big THANK YOU,  DR. CELLA!!!

P.S.  If Lizzie had an account there, she certainly didn’t  use her real name.

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