What is the Fancy Dress Ball?

“Please Squeeze Us, We’re Charmin”
What the heck is going on here? I’m not sure, but I like it. This image is from a set of negatives labeled “Fancy Dress Ball.” From what I can gather, the Ball is an annual event that takes place at the Eseeola Lodge at Linville Golf Club. Attendees dress up in wacky and sometimes incredibly elaborate costumes—or at least they used to. Images from the 2007 Ball on this photo blog seem to indicate that the costumes are a thing of the past. Too bad!
I would love to know more about the origins, history, and purpose of this event, for which Hugh Morton seems to have been an “official” photographer (primarily during the 1960s and 70s). The earliest marked negatives I see so far are from 1958. What can you tell me?
For fun, I’ll include a few more sample images: another from the 1974 Ball, followed by one I think is from the 1950s (though it wasn’t labeled, and may not even be from the Ball at all—I’m just guessing).
Attendees at the 1974 Fancy Dress Ball dressed as roaches and a can of raid, Eseeola Lodge, Linville, NC

Kids dressed up as the “Kon-Tiki,” probably at the Fancy Dress Ball, Eseeola Lodge, Linville, NC, ca. late 1950s

4 thoughts on “What is the Fancy Dress Ball?”

  1. Those are from an annual event in Linville – I’m not sure which, if it’s July 4th or perhaps Labor Day…I’m guessing it’s July 4th, and affiliated with the annual parade. Chalk it up as a tad off-the-wall!

  2. No, the Fancy Dress Ball is held toward the end of the summer and used to consume our thoughts for the entire season. Each year they select a theme and folks would think up those elaborate costumes.
    One year the theme was movies — so I went as Heidi. Mom got my hair done in Shirley Temple curls and made me a pretty blue dress that looked like one from the movie. Daddy borrowed a goat from a local farmer. I remember that I won the prize.
    Another year the theme was “gold in them thar hills” and went as a prospector…with a borrowed burro.
    Each year they have a king and queen of the ball. Those people have very elaborate costumes and sit on the stage behind the costume parade.
    Mrs. Helen McDonald used to paint the sets and decorate the room. She also had a huge costume box where all the people who had not planned ahead could go to find last-minute costumes.
    The annual event continues in the Linville Resorts community. I have not attended in years. They asked my Mom to be the queen the summer my dad died — but she declined. They failed to make sure she realized that the theme was “what will Linville be without Hugh Morton.” We’d have all attended if we had realized that the evening was a tribute to my dad.

  3. I’ve tried to educate myself on these fancy dress balls and there’s very little information. I acquired a silver trinket box shaped like a huge cigar and on the top it is engraved “Fancy Dress Ball M D Harvey 1st prize”, then on the front it says “Dec 31st 1903 Melmoth Lodge”, then ofcourse it has the makers mark, the stamp for London, and the stamp for 1904 tax stamp. Very intricate and beautiful container, it seems every time I look at it I see something I hadn’t seen before. So in researching this box led me to more questions. What I’m seeing is they were held the last week of the end of a season. Some were themed and some were not, some dressed like their ancestors did 100 years ago. Still looking for the story of this box.

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