The DeMoulin Museum Brings Uniform History to Life

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A photo from the Demoulin Museum.
Fraternal lodge initiation devices, the Atlanta Olympic Band, and RejuviTex all play a major role in the evolution of the DeMoulin uniform company.

Uniforms are critical for every great marching band, and DeMoulin in Greenville, Illinois, is one of the oldest and largest manufacturers of music performance apparel in the world. You can explore the history of the DeMoulin company and view numerous band outfits made over the years by visiting the DeMoulin Museum, also located in Greenville.

While the DeMoulin company and the DeMoulin Museum have no official legal affiliation, they have a friendly relationship. “The DeMoulin Museum has helped enhance our brand image because it recognizes that we value our history,” and “exhibits to our customers our company’s stability and ability to change through time, which the museum so well puts on display,” says Don Adamski, DeMoulin president and CEO.

With 1,000 visitors each year, the DeMoulin Museum is one of the largest attractions in Bond County. “Many people who visit the museum are really curious if the old uniforms we have were actually made here in Greenville,” says John Goldsmith, museum curator. “They’re often pleasantly surprised to learn that they all were.”

From Community Bands to the Atlanta Olympic Band

Founded in 1892, DeMoulin made its first band uniforms for the premiere performance of the Greenville Concert Band on Memorial Day 1897 and has continued to make marching apparel ever since.

Before there were school bands, many towns had their own community bands and marching bands. “I always tell people to think of the movie ‘The Music Man,’” Goldsmith says. “At that time in history, practically every town in America had a band, and those bands had uniforms like the band in River City in ‘The Music Man.’”

A photo from the Demoulin Museum.One of the special exhibits focuses on the Atlanta Olympic Band. “Many visitors are really impressed by that,” Goldsmith states.

Comprised of high school and college students in the Atlanta area between 1992 and 1996, the Atlanta Olympic Band formed to promote the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. The group participated in various events leading up to the Olympics and then performed in the opening and closing ceremonies. Visitors to the museum can see the uniforms from the band, learn about the band’s history, and read testimonials from band members.

The museum has an assortment of about 20 uniforms from various groups on display. The museum possesses dozens more, which are rotated with other pieces to keep the exhibits fresh. The oldest in the collection dates between 1900 and 1905. It was found in a Goodwill store in Minneapolis.

Presently, the DeMoulin company produces many of its uniforms using RejuviTex, a 100% polyester whipcord made with Repreve (material from recycled plastic bottles). Offered exclusively by the DeMoulin company, RejuviTex allows DeMoulin to contribute toward the conservation and preservation of the environment. The DeMoulin Museum has a special exhibit that explains the process of how RejuviTex is made.

From Initiation Devices to Church Furniture

A photo from the Demoulin Museum.In addition to band uniforms, the DeMoulin Museum offers visitors an opportunity to explore the entire history of the DeMoulin company. The company became famous by creating fraternal lodge initiation devices, including the Bucking Goat, the Invisible Paddle Machine, and many others that are on display.

During its history, the company has also manufactured choir robes, graduation caps and gowns, and church furniture, samples of which can also be seen at the museum.

For more information about the DeMoulin Museum, including operating hours, visit demoulinmuseum.org.

A photo of Tom Varner.About the Author

Tom Varner is a writer who lives in southern Illinois. He was a percussionist in marching band during his four years of high school. He enjoys film, literature, and travel. You can find out more about him at tomvarner.com or by following him on Instagram @tomvarner.

Photos courtesy of Tom Varner.

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