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Society displays old-fashioned Christmas cheer

Event set to continue today in Mayfield

December 8, 2013
By CASEY CROUCHER , The Leader Herald

MAYFIELD - The Mayfield Historical Society brought old-fashioned Christmas cheer to the Rice Homestead Museum on Saturday.

"Everything here is decorated like an old-fashioned Christmas; there are no electric lights," society President Sylvia Parker said.

The society hosted its 22nd annual Old Fashioned Christmas Open House on Saturday. Society members decorated the house from the inside out and dressed in colonial-era clothing, inviting guests inside to escape the snow. Both fireplaces in the museum were lit, creating a cozy atmosphere. Every room had fresh holly and candles. There were two Christmas trees decorated in the homestead - one fake and one live.

Article Photos

Jean Gifford, right, serves up hot mulled cider to, from left, Kathy Sieg, Sylvia Parker and Carol Jablonski during the 22nd annual Old Fashioned Christmas Open House at the Rice Homestead Museum in Mayfield on Saturday.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan

Kathy Sieg, the society's recording secretary, said she always enjoys the atmosphere at the Christmas open house.

"I love the way the house is decorated, especially the natural look with the greens and holly," Sieg said. "I love this group of people in the historical society too; I've been doing this for about 10 years and we have a ball doing this event. This really is like a walk back in time."

Guests were offered hot mulled cider, cookies and pastries. They also were entertained by traditional folk music from The Harry, Barry, Dave and Bob Quartet.

There were demonstrations of spinning and weaving in the homestead's Loom Room by Libby Van Nostrand, Arlene Rambush and Barabara Hojohn.

Rambush said her favorite part of the event was when children came into the room.

"I love showing them how spinning is done," she said. "I take wool that's been cleaned and combed and put it into the spinning wheel so that it can be twisted into yarn. It shows [kids] how it was like back then."

The society also emphasized the house was recently renovated by John Coons, the late husband of Emilia Coons.

"I love everything here," Emilia said. "I think it's beautiful. I saw this house when it was at its worst, when my husband was restoring everything, and to come here and see this finished product touches my heart."

The open house had a pie sale to raise money for more renovations.

About 80 people came through during Saturday's open house, Parker said.

Society trustee Jean Gifford said she always enjoys having people come into the historical building and learn new things.

"Among a lot of the traditional decorations of holly and greens there's a few pineapples," Gifford said. "Pineapples are always a traditional sign of 'welcome' and back then the pineapple was an exotic fruit. Florida didn't exist, Hawaii didn't exist; pineapples had to come off a ship into Albany, so it was a sign of hospitality and welcome. It shows how much people back then decorated and what they used to decorate with."

Alice Groves of the town of Johnstown and her daughter Susan Graham of Gloversville said they always try to visit the open house every season.

"It's a great way to start off the Christmas season," Groves said. "I like looking at everything from back then and seeing the society members in their period clothing."

"Seeing everything decorated for Christmas is so beautiful too," Graham said.

The open house will continue today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.



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