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Medina puts on a Civil War Christmas

Historical Society commemorates war’s 150th anniversary

Kim Schmitz

Features Editor

 

The Medina County Historical Society will offer Civil War Christmas events this season to honor the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Historical Society workers have pulled out all the stops, bringing in re-enactors, period decorations and much more. On nine days between tomorrow and Dec. 9, visitors will take themselves on a self-guided tour through the John Smart House Museum, where everything will be lavishly decked in Civil War memorabilia.

“The last two years, we’ve had Christmas open houses with more Victorian-style themes,” said Mary Jane Brewer, secretary of the historical society. The adornments were very extravagant at these events, but “this year the decorations are much simpler, more like they would be during the Civil War.”

Not to worry — the simplicity does not reduce the entertainment value by any means. In fact, the historical society appears to have outdone itself this year, making the event much more interactive. “Every day we’re going to have a different program,” said Brewer. “We will have re-enactors, Medina County living history characters, Civil War music, [and] special Civil War displays.”

Some historical objects that will be displayed include a “huge exhibit of artifacts from Antietam,” according to Brewer, Civil War rifles and excellent daguerreotypes (a type of photography from the period), mostly of Civil War soldiers. Also authentic to the tradition of the period, tabletop Christmas trees will be used instead of full-sized ones. In addition, Brewer promises that gingerbread cookies will be a part of the festivities.

When asked how the event came about, Brewer said, “it came about as a fund raiser. We used to be supported by the county commissioners, but [then] the economy went downhill.”

The historical society lost almost all of its funding a few years ago, and has made drastic adjustments to stay afloat, including remaining open only one day a week, aside from special events. Ready with a silver lining, however, Brewer commented on what he called the change’s “double-edged sword.” “We’ve lost our funding but had to work a lot harder.” Several of the events that they now host were created in an attempt to acquire basic funds.

One such event is an upcoming Civil War banquet. “We have an excellent chef who cooks a dinner for a raffle winner every year. Last year we had six people eating and ten people waiting on them.” This year, all of the servers will be dressed in period character.

Other recent Medina County Historical Society events included a Victorian-style tea party for young girls where they learned Victorian etiquette, an antique show and simultaneous community yard sale, and an ongoing author series that invites writers to speak at luncheons. Recent featured authors included Tom Batiuk, creator of the comic strip Funky Winkerbean, and Donna VanLiere, author of the book the Christmas Shoes.

Each Civil War Christmas event costs $5 per person. It will take place on Nov. 17 and 18 from 2-8 p.m., Nov. 24-45 from 1-6 p.m., Dec. 2 from 1-6 p.m., and Dec. 9 from 1-6 p.m. It will take place at the John Smart House Museum, 206 North Elmwood Street, Medina, Ohio. Group tours may be scheduled by calling 330-722-1341.

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