'Music of Christmas' heard at Miller House Museum

Open house features music boxes and a preview of holiday decorations

December 02, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION |
  • Miller House Christmas theme features music decorations and antique music boxes and mantels decorated by area garden clubs. This mantel features a "drum" made of moss, dried roses, and money plants.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

Just their look harkens back to a different era.

Old glass in some of them reveals intricate workings and the old-time sound emitting from them gives a decidedly holiday feel.

The music boxes displayed throughout the Miller House Museum on West Washington Street Sunday during the museum’s annual holiday open house were representative of life in Washington County in the 1800s.

Music boxes, which predated phonographs, were common in local households as a source of entertainment, said Linda Irvin-Craig, executive director of the Washington County Historical Society.

The music boxes displayed in the museum reflected a variety of styles and they typically require the user to crank them up before they play.


“This one, you have to crank it and put a penny in it,” said Irvin-Craig, laughing as she described one built in 1886.

Officials at the Miller House Museum, who have hosted an annual open house every year since 1966,  welcomed about 126 people to the museum during the event, which was held from 1 to 3 p.m. The theme of the event was “Music of Christmas.”

Sunday’s event was largely held for members of the historical society to give them the “first look” at the museum’s holiday decorations, Irvin-Craig said.

In addition to the music boxes being displayed, each of the mantels in the house, as well as significant pieces of furniture were decorated by seven local garden clubs, Irvin-Craig said.

Ernest and Jan Wetterer of Sharpsburg said they often come to the event.

Jan Wetterer said exhibits of the museum’s collection are “so well done, and they have taken such good care of it.”

Visitors strolled around the museum and heard about new initiatives there, including a fundraiser known as “Dinner for Eight.”

For a $20 ticket, people will have three chances to win dinner for a party of eight at the Miller House Museum. Drawings for the dinners will be April 4 and the dinners will be held in spring, summer and fall, Irvin-Craig said.

Starting Wednesday and continuing Wednesday through Fridays from 1 to 4 p.m. during the holiday season, tours focusing on the museum’s holiday decorations will be offered.

On Dec. 7, 14 and 21, lunchtime tours will be given from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for people who want to take a quick glance at the house, Irvin-Craig said.

While admission to the museum usually ranges from $3 to $5, admission for the lunchtime tours will be reduced to $1 as long as each visitor brings a nonperishable food item. The food will be donated to local food banks, Irvin-Craig said.

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