Watkins Museum of History partners with Weaver’s to showcase store’s history for 160 years

This time of year, Weaver’s Department Store in downtown Lawrence is preparing for its annual Christmas window display.

 

The store is a staple in Lawrence, having been at 901 Massachusetts St. for 88 years. However — the store’s history reaches back even further, when it was known as Bullene Dry Goods, and was in the 700 block of Massachusetts Street.

Through Feb. 10, Watkins Museum of History, 1047 Massachusetts St., is featuring the exhibit “Mass Street Magic: Weaver’s Window Displays,” highlighting the department store, which is celebrating 160 years in business.

In one of the larger exhibit areas — on the second floor of the museum, a wall of Weavers memorabilia is displayed. The original placard is there, as well as advertisements throughout the years, photos of different window displays, a suit jacket from the grandson of Lathrop Bullene, the founder of Weaver’s, a display of mannequin heads from the department store, as well as a life-size replication of one of the store’s previous window displays.

“This is a special exhibit done for the 160th anniversary of Weaver’s. We wanted to take advantage of utilizing the artifacts we’ve received over time, using donated professional photographs that we’ve collected, and partnering with Weaver’s has been a really great resource,” said Steve Nowak, the museum director.

The current owner of Weaver’s, Joe Flannery, gave a presentation at the museum’s Final Friday event in October, and spoke about how only three families have owned the business, what it was like to work there growing up and how the business has changed over the years.

Nowak said the event was well attended and that Flannery’s connection to the community was evident at the lecture, with Flannery calling on attendees by name to ask questions.

A main attraction is the window display replica created by Cyndy Lester, whose been designing displays for Weaver’s for about 25 years, Nowak said.

The display is set in summertime and is an interpretation of a scene from “Alice in Wonderland.” Two female mannequins are playing croquet with their flamingo yard decorations as smiling sunflowers decorate the backdrop — all set in front of a checkerboard made of artificial grass.

“We were really surprised at how quickly she was able to put it together,” Nowak said of the display. “We had set aside three days, but it really only took her one morning.”

The museum is free to attend, with donations appreciated. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday from November through April, with hours varying in the spring.

For more information, visit watkinsmuseum.org or call (785) 841-4109.

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