Arkansas First Lady Anne McMath, 1949-1953

Old State House Museum - Monday, October 05, 2015

Today’s gown brings a taste of postwar elegance. As we look back at the life of Arkansas First Lady Anne McMath, we look forward to tomorrow, when the First Ladies’ Lunch to restore our gown collection will be held at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion.

Originally from Slate Spring, Mississippi, Sarah Anne Phillips attended the Mississippi State College for Women until health problems prevented her from finishing. In Washington DC during World War II she met Sidney Sanders McMath, and the couple married and when the war was over moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas.

When Sid McMath became governor in 1949, the McMaths became the initial First Family to occupy what today is known as the Governor’s Mansion. Anne McMath faced numerous challenges. Not only did she have to manage the duties of being First Lady and preparing the new governor’s house for occupancy, she also had to raise a very young family: the McMaths’ youngest son was born the year Governor McMath took office!

At the inaugural ball, Mrs. McMath wore a sleeveless gown of black velvet with a matching floor-length cape. The fitted bodice is embellished with silver braid and rhinestones and a shirred panel encircles the waist. The circular, floor-length skirt has a train and a soft bustle accented by a velvet bow. The ensemble was purchased from Elanor Harris in Hot Springs.