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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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New Evanston History Center exhibit highlights Marshall Field’s impact on North Shore shopping

Anavi Prakash/The Daily Northwestern
The Evanston History Center’s exhibit about Chicago-based department store Marshall Field’s opens on Saturday and runs until June 7.

The Evanston History Center’s costume collection is the second largest in Illinois. Deborah Kasindorf, EHC’s new executive director, said she aims to highlight the collection and the importance of fashion in people’s lives in a new exhibit. 

“We have this wonderful part of Evanston history and people’s lives, all the way from when they dress up to their everyday wear,” Kasindorf said. 

The new exhibit, “The Curated Store: How Marshall Field’s Changed the Way Evanston Shopped,” will open April 6 and run until June 7. It will look at Evanston’s commercial history, according to Kris Hartzell, EHC’s director of facilities, visitor services and collections.

Marshall Field’s, a Chicago-based department store founded in 1852, expanded to Evanston in 1928 with a store at the corner of Hinman Avenue and Davis Street. In 1929, the storefront moved to 807 Church St., where it remained until the store closed in 1987.

Hartzell, who grew up in Evanston, said Marshall Field’s was a large part of her childhood, which makes this exhibit special to her. She said other Evanston residents have shared a similar connection to the exhibit on the center’s social media pages. 

“It’s a nice intergenerational connector for people who have memories (of the store),” she said. 

Hartzell added that the Marshall Field’s Evanston expansion made the city the “shopping mecca of the North Shore” until shoppers pivoted to malls.

Kasindorf said that, along with invoking nostalgia, the exhibit is an opportunity to look at downtown Evanston for what it used to be and what it can be in the future. 

“As we think about Evanston continuing to always reinvent itself — especially after the pandemic — and look at businesses here, it felt like a good time for us to do this exhibit,” she said. 

The center also plans to host a talk about the history of Marshall Field’s by Leslie Goddard, an American history and women’s history expert, on April 11 at 7 p.m.

Marshall Field’s costumes, Christmas boxes, shopping bags and a display case will be displayed in the exhibit, among other artifacts from EHC’s archival collection, Hartzell said. 

There will also be some branded Marshall Field’s merchandise gifted from local businesses on display, Kasindorf said.  

The exhibit precedes “ReFashioning History,” a fundraiser on June 27 that will highlight the center’s extensive costume collection. Designers from Evanston and Chicago will use the center’s collection as inspiration to design their own clothes, which will also be displayed at the event.

“We want to use our resources in our archives to be relevant today,” she said. “And certainly, fashion is always relevant. So, using the Marshall Field’s (exhibit), it’s almost like a teaser in terms of what’s in our collection.” 

Kristen Nelson, the center’s director of external relations, echoed a similar sentiment and said the Marshall Field’s exhibit represents an important part of Evanston’s rich history. 

“That’s always our hope here at the Evanston History Center that we, through the lens of history, inspire people to be engaged in their community,” Nelson said. 

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