Madison County: Historical Society plans Victorian Christmas

Decorating the Madison County Historical Society's 1849 Gothic Revival Villa for the Christmas holidays is a tradition that began nearly 30 years ago. Adding musical entertainment, some spicy Wassail, Victorian-style costumes and the community, and you get an open house.

Anyone who hasn't had the opportunity to tour the Cottage Lawn can do so Sunday, Dec. 10 from 1 to 4 p.m. for free.

"It's our way of saying thank you to the community," said Syndney Loftus, executive director of the MCHS. "Volunteers will act as guides in the rooms. It's offered to get a taste of the holidays, listen to some entertainment and drink some warm punch."

"It's also a chance to see old friends we haven't seen in awhile and just unwind and enjoy the holidays," Loftus added.

According to Loftus, local garden clubs will decorate the entire house with garland and arrangements for the event. Volunteers Fred and Cindy Whipple donated a large cedar tree from their property, which stands in the parlor. The Oneida High School history group, under the direction of Mary Jean Bialas will roam the villa dressed in Victorian-style clothing.

The library will act as a gift shop and offer literary finds such as "When Hops was King," and the annual publication "Heritage," just off the presses. Tickets will be sold for a handmade quilt raffle, and the one-of-a-kind silver "Heritage" plaque, created by Norm Dam for the county's Bicentennial. The plaque represents the towns and city located in Madison County. Proceeds from the plaque raffle will be used toward the "Heritage Park" project.

Loftus said the land for the park, located across from Heritage Farms south of Oneida on Route 46, has been purchased.

"It's in the concept stages right now," Loftus said. "We plan to move a hop kiln, donated to the Society by Luther Farms, on the property. The name [Heritage Park] hasn't been officially adopted yet. It's still in the planning stages. But this is why the raffle is so important."

The Victorian Christmas Open House also will include music by the Oneida Civic Chorale Ensemble, the North Broad Street Elementary Chorus and other groups.

For more information on the open house, call the MCHS at 363-4136 or e-mail history@mchs1900.org.

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