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DECEMBER 16, 2011

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Victorian Christmas Through the Eyes of Tim Weight

The Dickens troupe, representing characters in A Christmas Carol, performed at a variety of events and strolled Bellefonte’s streets.

(photos by Tim Weight)

Civil War Re-enactors of Thompson’s Independent Battery C Pennsylvania Volunteer Light Artillery were on hand during Victorian Christmas.

Families and couples enjoyed the old-fashioned pace of a horse-drawn carriage ride around Bellefonte.

Bellefonte Victorian Homes Tour

Even the bedrooms at the Inn at Walnut Acres were festive.

Article & photos by Ebun Adewumi

Checking out the tree and the train display

The foyer of the Forge House

The middle school was one of the craft sale venues during Victorian Christmas.

“I’ve driven by…and I’ve always wanted to see the inside.” This was said over and over by more than a few visitors who checked out the Bellefonte Victorian Homes Tour. What better way to get in the Christmas spirit than spending an afternoon touring beautifully decorated landmarks? A highlight of the three-day annual Bellefonte Victorian Christmas held December 9 to 11, visitors paid $10 for a self-guided tour of eight Victorian homes. Though you can go at your own pace and carefully look at all the intricate designs and unique décor, there The Reynold’s Mansion were plenty of hostesses and volunteers around to chat about the history of the house and its previous owners. The 32-room Reynolds Mansion on West Linn Street, also a bed and breakfast, was full of visitors. One interesting story about the house is the room that is

currently the Billiards Room was originally designed to be just that – but one previous owner placed a trampoline in the room for his children. At the Forge House, on Forge Road, seven of its original nine fireplaces are intact and still functioning. The house also retains most of the original windows, doors, floorboards, and tile surrounding the fireplaces and mantles. You couldn’t ask for more Christmas spirit than the Inn at Walnut Acres on Weaver Hill Road. The inn’s owners decorated each of its B&B rooms a different Christmas theme. There were five other buildings on the tour: the home of Cecil and Sally Houser on North

Allegheny Street, The Bellefonte Brownstone on North Allegheny Street, the Thompson House on East Linn Street, the house of Dr. Kevin and Carol Burke on West Linn Street, and the Bellefonte Train Station on West High Street. The Victorian Christmas Homes tour was co-sponsored by the GFWC Bellefonte Woman’s Club and Victorian Christmas Committee Homes Tour Committee. Proceeds from the tour are shared by both groups and are recycled back into the community.

The Forge House

The Inn at Walnut Acres was decorated for Christmas.

Victorian Christmas: Breakfast with Santa & High Tea with Dickens Article & photos by Amy Debach Confer

This past weekend was Bellefonte’s Victorian Christmas, with events happening all over town, from Christmas concerts and craft shows to a spectacular Gala dinner and a children’s tea party. I personally chose to partake in the Breakfast with Santa held at Lambert Hall and the Dickens-inspired High Tea held in the American Philatelic Societies building at the old Match factory. Both events were lively and festive. Breakfast with Santa was held from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and included pancakes, sausage, bacon, eggs, and drinks as well as fresh fruit from a beautiful arrangement donated by Edible Arrangements. Children could also make crafts and holiday ornaments, have their caricature hand drawn for free, and of course, tell Santa what special thing they want to find under their tree on Christmas morning. This event was sponsored by the Bellefonte Kiwanis group and SPE Federal Credit Union. This event was festive and bustling with families and children who were able to spend the morning together celebrating each other and the magic of Christmas. The second event I attended was the magnificent Dickensinspired high tea with a fashion show put on by some of the members of the Batter B Ladies Auxiliary, a light artillery re-enactment group. The High Tea event has been a Victorian Christmas highlight for 30 years, but this was the first year adding brunch and Dickens.

A Dickens’ character performed a short story.

The room was decorated with live pine and cloth-covered tables complete with lovely tea snacks like egg salad, tuna, scones, coffee and tea which the ladies – including Sally Hauser, the coordinator of the event – passed around with the utmost elegance and attention to etiquette. Everyone who attended joked with the Dickens theatrical players whether they were “pinky in” or “pinky out” tea drinkers. The event was catered by Hoag’s Catering & Celebration Hall. Dickens’ characters presenting theatrical pieces and music including interactive poems, songs, and short stories. They also came around to each table to engage in light-hearted jokes and conversation, all with Dickens’s era accents. The Battery B fashion show was a new addition to the tea this year. Nancy Vansaun and Bonnie Berry explained the historical accuracy of the Victorian costuming they were wearing and talked about traditional garb and etiquette of the day. They explained that the look of the era was based on the look of Mary Todd Lincoln. Women were to have round and plain faces, with their hair parted sharply down the middle, with broad shoulders, and a thin waist. They explained that women were to make small humble movements and the hostess would always be underdressed compared to her guests. Nancy, part of a Civil War knitting group, also came around to the tables showing her layers of garb including the knitted petticoat down to the traditional coin holder. Nancy explained the

The Koch family enjoyed the High Tea.

In Victorian costume, the greeter took tickets for the breakfast with Santa.

layers of the union uniform and added that the suit has never actually been retired. Among those attending the “Koch” girls. Rebekah, A lovely brunch was enjoyed by all. Keturah, Tirzah, and Linda have attended Victorian Christmas for several years but, never the Dicken’s High Tea. They each prepared outfits specifically for the event and Rebekah even made her own. The women seemingly loved getting into character and while enjoying the brunch. Linda wore a beautiful and elaborate Victorian hat that she purchased at Victorian Rose in Bellefonte and were interactive in the Twelve days of Christmas song by being the “Six geese a-laying.” The costumes worn by the players, the auxiliary, and the event goers were beautiful and made the event that much more festive. If you are interested in participating in the High Tea and Brunch with Dickens next year, I highly recommend it for a ladies group, motherdaughter outing, or as a Christmas gathering. See our Facebook page for all of the photos Amy took during Victorian Christmas.

Hailey Confer told Santa what she wants.

Nancy Vansaun showed the layers of garb.

12-16-11 Centre County Gazette  

December 16, 2011 issue - Centre County Gazette

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