In all the hustle and bustle of the holidays it’s easy to yearn for simpler times when the gifts and decorations were more homemade and handmade than commercial. While the celebrations of the early 1900s in North Carolina were elaborate, they were less manufactured than what is common today. Through Jan. 9, the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex is showcasing winter themed decorations of silver and white, Victorian-style, at the Poe House.
Just like in times past when families worked hard to make their home a special place for the holidays, the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex has decked not just the halls, but every room in this Victorian era home for the holidays.
Based on articles and decorating ideas from early 1900s’ issues of Ladies’ Home Journal, the Christmas tree in the Poe House is adorned in garlands of silver paper chains, lace hearts, silver pinecones, icicles and other decorations.
A hundred years ago in southern North Carolina, families used what was available to them to decorate their homes. They did this by bringing in a lot of the local foliage that they could find out doors. Things like pine branches, holly, magnolia, ivy, mistletoe and nandina were used to make wreaths, swags and other festive decorations. The Poe House follows suit and has wreaths on the windows and pine swags on the porch railings — and that is just the beginning.
Inside, look for holly and poinsettias along with red ribbons and magnolia blossoms as part of the home’s decor for the Christmas season.
“This is something that so many people just love coming to the house and seeing,” said Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex 1897 Poe House Education Coordinator, Heidi Bleazey. “The Christmas decorations really add to the grandeur of the house. This really is the best time of year to come and visit the Poe house, if you’ve never been before.”
It’s taken about a decade, but the staff has the decorating process down to a science. “During the early years, there was a lot of grueling research,” said Bleazey. “And then we had to translate that into what we could reasonably find and do to replicate the decorations of that era.”
Now it takes about five hours for four or five staffers to put the home together, and every year, even though it is tough work, the results are just stunning.
The historical complex is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free.
For more information, call (910) 486-1330 or visit www.museumofthecapefear.ncdcr.gov. Tours are offered on the hour Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.
Photo: Visitors enjoy Christmas decorations at the Poe House.