Each year staff at the Museum of the Cape Fear looks forward to the holidays. It’s a time to show an entirely different side of the Victorian lifestyle that is regularly showcased at the Cape Fear Historical Complex.
From Nov. 20 to Jan. 6, the Poe House is bedecked in garland and decorations befi tting the stately home. The public is invited to tour the property to learn more about what Christmas was like in Fayetteville in the early 1900s. On Dec. 2, the Museum of the Cape Fear celebrates the season with a Victorian Holiday Jubilee.
The Edgar Allen Poe House, named for the original owner — a brickyard owner, not the famous author, is the perfect place to showcase and celebrate the holidays — Victorian style. There were no infl atable Santa’s on the front lawn or colored lights in the windows. To many, the thought of these modern adornments at the Poe House seems somehow demeaning. No, this home was dressed in ribbons and live evergreens and berries. The Victorian Holiday Jubilee showcases not just the decorations, but the traditions of the day as well.
“The decorations are up and ready to be seen,” said Leisa Greathouse, curator of education. “We have a special theme we do in the dining room every few years. It is a lattice filled with ribbons that hangs from the ceiling. It was a decorating idea that came out of Ladies Home Journal of the time period. Much like we look at the HGTV, Ladies Home Journal did the same thing of the time period. It would have decorating ideas and tips.”
It’s an impressive structure that requires more than a dozen people to assemble it.
Enjoy some time with the family listening to The Coventry Carolers; scheduled to perform on the front porch at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. The house, which will be festively decorated, will be open in between the concerts.
“This is the first year the group has performed here. We are looking forward to having them.”
Enjoy the tradition of holiday baking as Christmas goodies are made using the 1902 Glenwood Stove. “We use firewood in the stove. It takes real skill to cook on it,” said Greathouse. “You have to control the fi re enough to heat the oven on 350 degrees.”
If holiday baking is not stressful enough, the volunteer who does the cooking uses a period cookbook.
“We are fortunate that she loves it. She loves cooking and trying different recipes. They usually don’t have measurements, but will say something like ‘put in butter the size of a small egg,’” said Greathouse. “We use a cook book called What to Cook and How to Cook It from 1912. It is a book that actually belonged to the Poes. We know they had this in their possession and probably cooked from it.”
While enjoying the festivities, spend some time together in Santa’s workshop. Attendees are invited to make a paper elf hat for free or for a small fee make a wooden toy — while supplies last. The a wooden toy glider ($1), tug boat, race car, train or tractor ($3 each) will make a great momento.
“I love the crowd we get —I am always impressed with the attendance and I love watching people enjoy the decorations,” said Greathouse. “Looking at the children’s faces is reminiscent of Christmas morning.”
The Poe House is open for tours Tuesday-Friday during the week at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.; Saturdays on the hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays on the hour from 1-4 p.m. Tours of the house are free. Call 486-1330 for more information.