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Museum mixes holidays, history

Area residents can get a glimpse into the past and future at the Lawrence County Historical Museum this holiday season.

Monday, November 08, 1999

Area residents can get a glimpse into the past and future at the Lawrence County Historical Museum this holiday season.

The museum opened its doors Saturday night to show off its annual Christmas tree display. The exhibit officially opened Sunday.

"This is the 11th year for our Christmas display," said Kay Rader, chairwoman of the exhibit. "We do this because we want to show the citizens of Ironton what Christmas was like during the Victorian years."

But Christmas decoration lovers will not only get a glimpse into the Victorian era when they walk through the museum this year.

In honor of Ironton’s sesquicentennial celebration, this year’s theme – "Christmases Then and Now" – spans many different eras in holiday decor, Mrs. Rader said.

"The museum will feature the Victorian era, as well as the modern era," she said. "We even have a tree from the future."

Walking into the dining room, visitors can get a look at a tree decorated in the late Victorian style, Mrs. Rader said.

"They wouldn’t have had Christmas lights, though," she said. "They would have had candles. What makes this a Victorian tree, however, is that it is very elaborate with lots of roses."

Other Victorian era trees can be seen in the parlor and in the Kelly room.

For a less opulent feel, the kitchen is home to a tree decorated in the style of 1849 to 1874.

Candles and gingerbread men are just a few of the homemade items hanging from this tree’s branches, Mrs. Rader said.

"It’s all handmade," she said. "The tree is decorated with popcorn and gingerbread and things found in the garden."

Moving through time, the 1920s come alive in The John Rankin Room and in the bedroom, Mrs. Rader said.

"The tree in the bedroom is unusual because it is decorated with pictures from the World War I era and the 1920s," she said.

The tree also gives visitors a little preview of the future, which can be found in the Music Room. That’s where the Ironton High School Class of 1954 has decorated a tree in memory of their deceased classmates.

The tree is decorated in the style of the early 1950s to mid-1970s, Mrs. Rader said.

Two other rooms – the solarium and the toy room – also offer a more modern, as well as fun Christmas feel, she said.

"We have Santa Claus displayed in the solarium," Mrs. Rader said. "It looks good from the outside, and the children usually enjoy it."

The toy room is decorated in snowmen, which also will delight children, she added.

The museum’s walk through Christmases past and present would not be complete, however, without a look into the future.

Atop the stairs in the front hallway sits a tree with a neon angel beckoning all to come and revel in its glory, Mrs. Rader said.

The tree was decorated by Bob Price in his projected vision for the year 2024.

"Everything on it is plastic," Price said. "The theme of the future is plastic, because few things will be made of wood because of conservation practices."

The plastic tree has been fitted with plastic hose, ornaments and bulbs, he added.

"We had the theme of something unusual this year. And I added 25 more years to 1999 to make a tree that would be a little unusual. And this is one year to do something unusual. We’re going into the year 2000. This is the beginning of the future."

The museum will be open Friday, Saturday and Sundays from 1-5 p.m. from now until the second week of December to visitors, Mrs. Rader said.

There is no admission charge to enter, but donations are accepted, she said.

Decorations were provided by historical society members and one tree was decorated by the Ironton High School Class of 1954 in memory of their deceased classmates.