Historical society taking community back to 1860s

Date Published: 
Dec. 8, 2017

This weekend, community members have the chance to travel back in time — to 1860 — and see what life was like then during the holiday season, thanks to the Ocean View Historical Society.

On Saturday, Dec. 9, from noon to 3 p.m., the Ocean View Historical Society will host its 1860 Coastal Christmas at its historical complex on Central Avenue.

“This is our fourth year,” said OVHS President Barbara Slavin of the event. “It’s good exposure for us. We’re trying to increase our profile… The more people who know we’re here, the better.”

The complex — which features the Tunnell-West House, furnished with period furniture and artifacts; an 1800s outhouse; the town’s first post office, built in 1889; and an exact replica of Cecile Steele’s first chicken house — will be open to the public, free of charge, and decorated for the season.

“We’re calling it a ‘Coastal Christmas,’ because we want to use what they would’ve been able to use back in the 1800s,” Slavin explained. “We’ve decorated the tree — an old-timey cedar tree — with seashells. We have a tree outside that we’ve decorated with popcorn and cranberry.

“Then we made several wreaths out of natural foliage that grows in the area — especially holly, because holly wreaths were made here in the early part of the last century and used as a business. If anyone would like to make a wreath, we’ll have some extra greenery so that if they do want one, we can help them create one similar to what we have.”

Families are being encouraged to bring children, as they can take a walk back in time and learn some history.

“If children come — which we encourage — we have some crafts for them to make a coastal ornament,” she added.

To add to the festive atmosphere, Len Wolek will be playing his mandola. Refreshments, including homemade cookies and warm homemade cider, will be served.

“We have a donation of a Thomas Nast Christmas print that we had framed, and that will be on display,” Slavin noted.

New to the event this year is a Civil War renactor, who took part in a reenactment the society hosted back in June.

“He volunteered to come back and help us out for this event. His main intent is to look like a Civil War soldier coming home for the holidays. Ironically, Mr. Tunnell did have two sons who were in the Civil War.

“I think the Civil War soldier will be a neat addition, because people can ask him questions. He actually performs as a soldier, talking about the war. He won’t talk as if he’s current-day.”

The society is always looking for members to join the organization and help preserve history. Currently, they are working on building Hall’s Store, a replica of one of the area’s general stores, built in 1820, to serve as their visitors’ center, as well as to revamp the Evans-West house, which will serve as the future Coastal Towns Museum.

“We’re not charging for this event but would certainly like to accept donations,” she said.

Slavin noted that the Town of Ocean View will be hosting their holiday event the same day, from 3 to 5 p.m. at town hall, just across John West Park, so families can enjoy both events back-to-back.

“We do hope to see lots of children and lots of families come through,” she said. “If you haven’t been to the historical complex, now is a good opportunity, because you’ll see it in its Christmas spirits.”

The event is free, with parking at Town lots surrounding John West Park. For more information, call or email Carol Psaros at ckpsaros@aol.com or (302) 539-5653. For more information on the Ocean View Historical Society or to become a member, visit www.ovhistoricalsociety.org. The Tunnell-West House is located at 39 Central Avenue in Ocean View.