Remembering Springfield’s Victorian Opulence

Exhibit Shows How the Rich & Famous Lived in Springfield

Exploring the lives of the rich and famous of Springfield’s past, the Springfield Museums’ newest exhibit is made up of items demonstrating the luxury with which Victorian-era elite lived their lives. Explore the exhibit to use material culture as a lens for learning about the people behind Springfield’s 19th century economic success!

For some members of 19th century Springfield’s community, the Victorian Era was an especially lavish and luxurious time. Artifacts from the results of the booming industries of 1800’s Springfield are showcased currently at a newly opened exhibit at the Springfield Museums. Titled, “Victorian Opulence: Springfield’s Industrial Elite,” the exhibit includes a wide variety of high-end items once owned and used by some of the most prosperous families of Victorian-era Springfield.

Open through early April of 2016, the exhibit uses examination of material culture to teach about the city’s industrial history and provides a look at day-to-day life in the households of the time period’s most elite. The items included in the exhibit – everything from top hats and jewelry to ornate grandfather clocks – project an obvious air of wealth, and their origins speak volumes to the economic privilege that their owners enjoyed. Read the rest of this entry »

The Magic of History: Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum Summons the Spirit of Victorianism

Magic of the Victorian Era in the Berkshires
Family Day at the Susan B. Anthony Museum
Saturday, July 28th in Adams, MA

“Family Day” will kick-off the townwide “Susan B. Anthony Days” with two shows, 1:00 pm and 2:30 pm, Saturday, July 28, at the Birthplace Museum, 67 East Road, Adams, MA. (>$)

Did you know that Adams was once home to an important female historical figure?  Susan B. Anthony was born there, and the town is now home to the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum!

The museum, opened in 2010, is located in the home that Anthony spent her childhood in, and is full of memorabilia, artifacts, and more – all to help visitors learn about her role in American history and the history of the local community.

On Saturday, July 28th, the museum will host Family Day, a special event featuring a children’s performance and opportunities to tour the museum.  Old Sturbridge Village’s Robert Olsen will perform as Mr. E. A. Davis, a popular late 19th century magician.  His tricks, once prime entertainment during the Victorian era, will amuse and astound families, and the show will help kids learn to appreciate history!  There will be two shows, at 1pm and 2:30pm.  Visiting the museum to learn about local history can help children put their community into a larger context of American history, not to mention the fascinating and beautiful early 19th century architecture!

ABOUT THE SUSAN B. ANTHONY MUSEUM

The Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum is a Federal-style house, on the National Registry of Historic Places. Anthony was born in the house, built by her father, in 1820. The house was bought in 2006, restored and opened in the spring of 2010 as a museum. For more information, visit www.susanbanthonybirthplace.com.

Victorian History Comes Alive During the Holidays

Victorian Holiday Traditions & Events

According to the Wistariahurst Museum, "During the Victorian Era, a London newspaper published a drawing depicting the royal family of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert adorning a Christmas tree with lighted candles, tinsel, ribbon and paper chains. With this, Christmas bloomed into a season rife with tradition." Families can make orange pomanders during the museums Victorian Crafts for the Holidays Youth and Family Program this Saturday, Dec. 10th from 1-3pm in Holyoke. And Wednesday, Dec 7th from 4-5pm, families can make lemon pomanders at the Pine Point Branch Library in Springfield. - Want to make pomanders at home with your kids? Click on the image above for a DIY pictorial

Did you know that many of our holiday customs have origins from the Victorian era?  From Christmas trees decorated with candies and fruits and presents placed under the tree, to plum pudding and Wassail, many of our modern day traditions can be traced back to the Victorian age.

Christmas in the 1800’s was authentic, and celebrations weren’t distracted by commercialization as our modern day Christmas observances can be.  The holiday focused on celebrating with friends and family.

According to the BBC, “The Victorians transformed the idea of Christmas so that it became centred around the family. The preparation and eating of the feast, decorations and gift giving, entertainments and parlour games – all were essential to the celebration of the festival and were to be shared by the whole family.”

During the holiday season families can take a step back into history with Victorian influence singing, crafts and productions that happen throughout Western MA. Tomorrow afternoon, families can meet at the Pine Point Branch Library in Springfield and make lemon pomanders to give as gifts while learning about the history of this Victorian craft.  And this coming Saturday, Dec. 10th, the  Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke hosts Victorian Crafts for the Holidays where families can make orange pomanders, Christmas crackers and other Victorian crafts.

Christmas by Candlelight at Old Stubridge Village happens for three weekends in December where families can enjoy  horse-drawn sleigh rides, hands-on art activities, visits from Father Christmas, readings and listening to Victorian carolers.

Families can further enjoy Victorian caroling all weekend long this coming Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 10th-11th, in the Berkshires at the Lenox Caroling Festival, and in the evening on Saturday, Dec. 10th the Victorian Singers will be singing holiday carols in period-costume at St. James Place in Great Barrington at 6pm.

Starting December 17th at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, families can journey back to Victorian England and experience the classic story, A Christmas Carol, performed by the Berkshire Theatre Group for eleven shows scheduled through December 30th.

Check the Hilltown Families list of Weekly Suggested Events every Thursday afternoon for more non-commercial events for the holidays.  And be sure to sign up for or weekly eNewsletter to have an updated mailed right to your inbox once a week.

Have a Victorian tradition your family enjoys?  Share in our comment box below.

[Photo credit (ccl) Aprile Clark]

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