Mining the Victorian era for an old-fashioned Christmas


December 11. 2013 12:45AM
By Joe Sylvester From The Times Leader




Victorian Christmas: Dec. 14-15, noon-4 p.m., Sharpe House, Eckley Miners Village (2 Eckley Main St., Weatherly). Free. For more info, visit eckleyminersvillagemuseum.com or call 570.636.2070.



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If you like an old-fashioned Christmas, you can enjoy the decor and atmosphere of one even older than, well, the 20th century.


Eckley Miners Village Associates have recreated a Victorian Christmas in the Sharpe House, an 1854 Gothic Revival home at the historic village in Foster Township. Costumed re-enactors will portray people from the 19th century while visitors enjoy tea and home-baked cookies or shop for handmade Victorian Christmas ornaments and antiques. A Chinese auction and raffle are also planned.


The free trips back in time started last weekend and will continue this Saturday and Sunday afternoon.


Karen Esak, programs coordinator at Eckley Miners Village, said Queen Victoria’s Court, a fashion show group, is expected to show Victorian-era clothes during the weekend. Others also will fill the roles in costume among the Victorian Christmas decor.


“We have different people that come in costume,” Esak said. “The Eckley Players are off and on during the four days. We usually have seven people there.”


Volunteers play various roles, from serving tea to greeting visitors to working in the gift section.


Visitors are encouraged to bring a camera and take photos of the volunteers in Victorian dress.


This is the third year of the Victorian Christmas in the historic home, which is on the far western end of the village.


“This was actually my idea to do these,” Esak said. “They never used the Sharpe House before.”


The house was formerly owned by Richard Sharpe, who lived there from 1854 until 1874, Esak said. He was one of the founding partners of the village and mine operations at the Council Ridge Colliery. The home was designed after the Gothic Revival of the early 19th century. Sharpe, his family of eight, and a number of servants occupied the home’s 14 rooms.


During the 1950s, the house was divided into apartments, and two families lived there for a number of years. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission later took over the village, and the house eventually was restored to a one-family house, as it appeared when Sharpe lived there.


Eckley Miners Village is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. There, the volunteers depict the lives of the immigrants who came to live in the mining towns of Northeastern Pennsylvania and work in the anthracite mines.




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