Penobscot Marine Museum’s walk-through Open House Dec. 7 & 8

Walk through an 1865 house for a Victorian Christmas

Gallery of vintage holiday decorations
Fri, 12/07/2018 - 12:00pm

    SEARSPORT— Inside the yellow 19th century sea captain’s house on 1 Church Street, rooms have been decorated for a Victorian-era Christmas, with entry ways bedecked with evergreens, small trees with nautical ornaments, and other details that reflect what the holidays would have been for a 19th century family.

    The Fowler-True-Ross house is part of Penobscot Marine Museum’s collection of historic buildings. Nine area businesses and community groups have taken over the decoration of each room and made it their own in time for the Victorian Christmas weekend event, Friday, December 7 and Saturday, December 8, in which the public is encouraged to walk through from 4 to 7 p.m..

    The traditions of decorating for Christmas really started with Queen Victoria, in 1848 when the Illustrated London News published a drawing of the Queen and her husband Prince Albert, standing around a decorated Christmas tree, inspired by Prince Albert's childhood holiday experiences in Germany.

    “It has been a tradition in Searsport for different community groups to come in and decorate each room of this house in the Victorian Christmas style," said Cipperly Good, Curator/Collections Manager. “So, it’s like multiple Christmases in one house, not necessarily true to any particular time period.”

    Bluejacket Shipcrafters decorated the kitchen with vintage Christmas cards above the mantle of the hearth and stockings hung below.  In those times, gifts family members gave one another would have been very simple: cards, fruits, nuts, sweets and handmade cards items that could easily be placed on an evergreen tree. As gift giving became more central to the traditions in later years, they got bigger, mainly store-bought and found their place under, rather on the tree.

    The garland and decorations on the outside of the house and walkway was done by a neighbor, Pat Brennan-Finnie.

    Bangor Savings Bank decorated the Captain’s Office.

    “They decided to do a little bit more modern take on Christmas with silver and blue as their theme as that is their logo colors,” said Good.

    A small illuminated paper village lights up the table in the game room courtesy of Wayne Hamilton. The hearth hallway was taken over by the Nautical Scribe, a bookstore in Stockton Springs with ornaments made from Monkey’s Fists rope knots and garland. A small evergreen tree dominates the parlor, with hand-cut paper ornaments decorated by the Maine Ocean School. 

    At the top of the stairs, a gift table with cards and books has been set up by The Lupine Cottage, co-op of Maine artisans and crafters.

    The master bedroom features a handmade quilt.

    “Judy Roche, a local quilt maker who has exhibited with us, collects vintage quilts and lent us this one for the bed, and her husband Pat, a woodworker, fashioned some wooden ‘stockings’ for the mantle of the fireplace.’

    The children’s bedroom is festive with toys on the floor and another handmade quilt from staff member Faith Garrold. And the Carver Memorial Library donated mini book ornaments for the rope that cordons off the room. The Sail Locker decorated The Sewing Room with nautical theme, including a wreath made from warp.

    It’s a fascinating walk back through time to go through the house. The weekend’s free tour starts at 4 p.m. and goes until 7 p.m.

    “It coincides with  Searsport’s tree lighting at 5:30 p.m. on Friday and there will be Santa, caroling and cocoa,” said Good. “There will also be a gingerbread lighthouse competition. On Saturday, the Pen Bay Singers will be performing at the Searsport Congregational Church at 7:30 pm, so attendees are invited to stop by the house beforehand. There will be ornament making both nights and the store will be open for those needed to do some last minute shopping."

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    Kay Stephens can be reached at