OSWEGO – The Oswego County Historical Society cordially invites the public to celebrate the holiday season at its annual Victorian Christmas Open House December 1 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Richardson-Bates House Museum, 135 E. Third St. Oswego.
The special theme for this year is “Walk Back in Time.”
The event is free and open to the public.
“If you approach the massive walnut front doors of the museum with their carved lions’ heads, pass through the foyer doors with etched glass inserts, and walk into the soaring front hallway, topped with a unique stained glass skylight, you are immediately are transported back in time,” said board trustee Peg McKinstry. “Since the Bates family, who donated the mansion to OCHS in 1946, included 90% of the original contents, you are seeing all of the furnishings and décor from the Victorian era when Naomi Richardson lived there with her two adult children, Max Richardson and Harriet Richardson Bates, along with Harriet’s son, Norman.”
“The museum dining room will be fully decorated in the style of the Victorian Christmas celebrations that took place in the decade of the 1880s,” said Lyn Patterson, board trustee, who changes the china service in the dining room every year to reflect the holiday season.
To enhance the table settings, museum assistant Senna Handley has studied Naomi Richardson’s diaries of the 1880s and is introducing elements from her entries.
“Naomi did some of her own baking, and often made cakes. She mentions fruit frequently and seems to have loved pears,” said Handley. “We will add both elements to the decor.”
The museum has also received, from a descendant of one of the Bates’ daughters, two of the family heirlooms that were not part of the original 1946 donation.
One, a coffee pot, has been polished and sits ready for serving; the other is a carving set which will dress out a festive holiday “turkey platter” on the dining room table.
A Christmas tree in the room gets dressed with many of the society’s collection of period children’s toys of the Victorian era, including an original Columbian Doll made in the town of Oswego by the Adams sisters, a cast iron stove and a Noah’s Ark toy.
This year the tree will be lit with Victorian Christmas clip-on candles – LED instead of live flame.
A new display of Victorian era ladies’ dresses of the winter season will be added in Naomi Richardson’s bedroom on the second floor.
The museum gift shop has various items perfect for Christmas presents and stocking-stuffers, including mugs, Christmas ornaments, a needlepoint kit of the museum, and a selection of books on local history including the newly published “Oswego Legacies: Lost to the Ages” by Robert Perkins.
Also for sale is the Oswego Public Library 2020 Calendar with Justin White, board trustee, featured on the December page as he stands with his favorite book in the museum’s period library.
Cookies and holiday punch will be served throughout the afternoon.
Some individuals may be wandering around in period appropriate clothing, and the public is invited to wear anything looking Victorian as well.
The Oswego High School Chamber Singers will perform at 2 p.m. in the drawing room.
The volunteers of the Richardson Bates House Museum welcome the community to open its doors and walk back in time to the opulent era of Victorian Oswego.
Come and celebrate the holiday season on December 1 in the spirit of an old-fashioned Christmas.
The Oswego County Historical Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the history of the county.
The society maintains and operates the Richardson-Bates House Museum, a historic landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The museum is open for tours Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 1 – 5 p.m. throughout the holiday season.
For more information, visit www.rbhousemuseum.org or call during its regular hours at 315-343-1342.