Fearing House decked out for holidays

KATE YORK The Marietta Times Washington County Historical Society member Mary Jo Hutchinson talks to a group of Harmar Elementary fifth graders Tuesday at the Henry Fearing House Museum. Behind them is the home’s folk art tree.

Those who want to find the Henry Fearing House for its holiday open house this weekend need only look for the little sprigs of holly decorating each window.

“When you look back at the history of decorating for Christmas, that’s probably the first Christmas decoration,” said Washington County Historical Society member Glen Wolfe. “It started in a tavern in London. We try to keep with what Henry would have had.”

The home of prominent businessman and philanthropist Henry Fearing, built in 1847, will be dressed in its Victorian holiday finery for tours from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. That includes a nine-foot folk art tree with handmade ornaments and stands of popcorn and red felt, a Nativity made by students of the one-room Rainbow School in the early 1950s and silhouette ornaments of notable figures in local history, from the Putnams to the Blennerhassetts.

On Tuesday, as part of an annual tradition, the fifth graders from Harmar Elementary School made the short walk over to the Fearing House to put ornaments they’d made on a small tree in one of the front rooms.

“They’re made out of popsicle sticks, glitter glue and those little fake jewels,” said Connor Schnell, 10. “Some people really overdid the glitter but I think they look good.”

One by one, the students got to add their brightly-colored snowflake creations to the tree.

“I’m really proud of mine,” said Lilly Roe, 11. “I tried to make it a little bit different than everyone else. I used more sticks to make it a hexagon and make it look like a real snowflake.”

Another Marietta student, Marietta High School senior Matthew Mason, will also contribute to the holiday open house, as he’ll be playing the organ there for the third year during the event.

“He’s an excellent musician,” said Washington County Historical Society member Mary Jo Hutchinson. “He plays the organ in the parlor, which is from the Stevens Piano and Organ Company which was located at the end of the street. We know it’s over 100 years old because they went out of business after the flood of 1913.”

Along with the festive music and decorations, the open house will feature light refreshments, including cookies, hot chocolate and spiced cider.

There will be a tour guide in every room, said Wolfe, and most will be in costume. Most of the decorations are consistent with the Victorian period, although there are lights on the Christmas trees and a few other exceptions.

Along with the trees downstairs, there is a feather tree and a Victorian tabletop tree upstairs, as well as holiday touches throughout the museum.

There is no charge for the holiday open house but donations are appreciated.

If you go

¯ What: Holiday open house.

¯ Where: Henry Fearing House Museum, 131 Gilman Ave. Marietta.

¯ When: 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

¯ Includes: Large folk art tree, tree decorated by Harmar Elementary fifth graders, light refreshments, seasonal music.

¯ Cost: Free, donations appreciated.

Source: Washington County Historical Society.