Museum gets ready for holiday season

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Cathryn Chancellor hangs ornaments created by area artists on one of several trees at the Carter House Museum.

The calendar might say November 20th but inside the Carter House Museum, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

The museum is being readied for the annual holiday open house Friday, November 22, from 5 to 8 p.m., and each room—plus the Annex—will reflect this year’s theme: Gifts.

“This year’s theme has come together beautifully, and I think our guests will enjoy the house and how each room celebrates a gift—from music to nature, food, friendship, poetry, pets, humor, and community service,” said Carter House board member LaVonne Augustson.

“The food tree has many delicious recipes attached to the branches, plus cherished cookbooks are displayed in the kitchen where the tree is located,” LaVonne continued. “The pet tree will be done by the second-grade students with each doing a 4x6 card about their favorite pet. Books about pets will be displayed in this room too. The nature tree is decorated with natural products and the room has books by Larry Stone and Emily Stone, just to mention the authors that pop in my mind.”

Also featured is a tree that pays tribute to the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote. That will be the theme of the 2020 Carter House season, as well.

Members of Clayton County Artists are decorating one of the trees with original works of art. In the spirit of giving that marks the season, these ornaments will be sold with proceeds going to the Carter House. To showcase the ornaments, Cathryn Chancellor hung them from the branches of a dead tree. And not just any dead tree, either.

“Cathryn said she wanted a dead tree—no needles, just branches—and as it happened, we had one,” said board member Mary Lammers.

Mary and her husband, Chuck, brought the tree from their daughter’s home in Cedar Falls to their home here.

“She still had it weeks after Christmas,” Mary continued. “Since she didn’t have a truck to haul it away we brought it back here thinking she might want to use it in a fire sometime. We never got around to that, which was fortunate because it was exactly what Cathryn was looking for.”

Cathryn wanted the art to be the focus of the tree and not the tree itself. Its fragile looking branches are adorned with nearly 30 pieces from artists in two states. In addition to members of Clayton County Artists, there are pieces by artists in Cathryn’s Wednesday watercolor class taught in McGregor.

“There are also ornaments by individuals that aren't a part of any group.  This tree is about our local artists from Iowa and Wisconsin,” Cathryn added. “I am really impressed by the generosity of our local artists. They were all very willing to participate. We have a very talented community.”

The ornaments will be sold during the open house and the two open weekends. However, they will need to remain on the tree until December 15 in order to give all visitors a chance to enjoy them.

Decorating the 18-room Greek Revival house for the holidays is a lot of work but as the open house neared, LaVonne was pleased with the team’s efforts.

“It is a process getting the museum ready, but a rewarding process,” she said. “All the volunteers are dedicated and inspire me with their talents: gifts. And, I would like to encourage anyone who is interested in helping, they would be most welcome!

In addition to the November 22 event, the Carter House will also be open two weekends in December: December 7 and 8, and 14 and 15, from 1 to 4 p.m. on all dates.




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