Atwood Holiday Decorations Tell Story of Chatham’s HistoryName: Atwood Holiday Decorations Tell Story of Chatham’s HistoryDate: December 12, 2017Website: http://chathamhistoricalsociety.org/Event Description:
Visitors to the Atwood House & Museum Dec. 9 - 23 will be able to see how the holidays were celebrated in Chatham, from the time of the first settlers through the Roaring Twenties.
A lot of research went into appropriately decorating every era in the "Windows into Time", "Chatham in the Military" and the rest of the exhibits in the museum, according to Archivist Kathryn Manson and Costumes and Textiles Director Janet Marjollet.
"We researched everything, down to the smallest detail," says Manson, noting that in the "Chatham in the Military" display, cards and gifts for the surf men stationed at the Old Harbor Lifesaving Station are made out to actual people serving there at the time.
In the display depicting a scene from 1800-1850, the Christmas tree is modest, decorated with dried fruit, nuts and tiny pinecones. At the time, evergreens grew as long vines or boughs that were placed on mantles or tabletops. Branches of bearberry, with their red winter fruits, would add color to the trimmings.
"People had to use what was available to them, and there wasn't much at that time except what was in their natural surroundings," said Manson.
During the Civil War, flags and candles and ornaments imported from Europe festooned Christmas trees, and patriotic bunting added color to the otherwise somber surroundings, notes Marjollet. "Even though for many it was a time of mourning, the evergreen was a symbol of continuing life," she said. "The Christmas celebration was every bit as patriotic as it was Christian".
Between 1900-1920, Christmas trees were often decorated with replicas of bird and butterflies, with garlands of cranberries and popcorn.
Tinsel and glittering glass balls with candles reflected the frivolous fashions of the Roaring Twenties. "The tree represented the excesses of the period," said Marjollet. "Women could vote. People were speculating on the stock market. Women were doing what men did "smoking and drinking. The music was jazz. It was over the top in every way." On a side table are engraved tin horns, glasses and champagne. An ostrich jacket is hung on the back of a chair. A trumpet and trombone, on loan from Ben Goodspeed of the Chatham Band, hang overhead.
Throughout the museum, in every exhibit, visitors can discover decorations of the times.
And they'll certainly want to see some of our newsworthy exhibits on display for the first time: a World War I grenade in "Chatham in the Military," and the recently acquired Atwood sleigh in the Tool Room.
The Atwood House & Museum, located at 347 Stage Harbor Road in Chatham, will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 1-4 p.m., Dec. 9-23. Admission is free for members, $10 for adults; $5 for youths ages 8-17 years, and free for children 7 age 7 and younger.
For details on Atwood House & Museum holiday events, like "Grub with the Grinch" and "Santa's Workshop" on Saturday, Dec. 9; "Evening with the Authors" on Friday, Dec. 15; and Joseph C. Lincoln's Christmas Days on Wednesday, Dec. 20, visit www.chathamhistoricalsociety.com.