Remember the holiday seasons of childhood when nothing more than the bright lights of a Christmas tree helped you see the world in a new way: full of anticipation, excitement and joy?
That’s the sentiment behind this year’s open house at the Eastern Cabarrus Historical Society Museum; its theme is Once Upon a Time, chosen to appeal to children and the child in each of us.
Nestled in the heart of Mount Pleasant, the museum is a treasure of memories and a throwback to Cabarrus County life in the late 19th century. Housed in the former Mount Pleasant Collegiate Institute, 30 rooms depict different aspects of local history, ranging from a general store to a dorm room and a doctor’s office. Each room has been specially decorated for Christmas, aligning the theme of the room with Once Upon a Time.
Historical society member Vicki Isenhour is in charge of this year’s open house. In July, she sent invitations to fellow members, community groups and anyone affiliated with the museum to take charge of decorating a room for Christmas. Her goal was to have an inclusive theme and to let people use their imaginations.
“We want to trigger memories for people,” Isenhour said. “You can go in these rooms and remember what your grandmother’s or great-grandmother’s kitchen was like.”
The only guideline she gave the volunteer decorators was to take visitors to the era or atmosphere of that room.
People took the job seriously, Isenhour said. Many came to just sit and “absorb” their room. With permission and encouragement from the museum, they moved things around, cleaned and found hidden treasures. “They found things that we didn’t know what they are,” Isenhour said.
The result is 30 rooms of surprises, memories and delight. The children’s room has been filled with old photographs of Mount Pleasant children. The tree in the Tuscarora mill room has decorations made of yarn. There are old wreaths in the tool room, canning lids on the tree in the kitchen and pictures of Mount Pleasant athletes and a blue and gold tree in the photography room.
The World War II room will play radio broadcasts from that era and guests will hear music from the Vietnam era.
The goal, Isenhour said, is to make visitors remember things they may have forgotten about. People need pictures to understand and appreciate history, she said. Seeing these things from the past triggers the memories she hopes the open house will inspire.
Guests are welcome to wander through the museum on their own or with a volunteer tour guide from the historical society. The event is free and also includes refreshments provided by members.
“This is our gift to the community,” Isenhour said.
Marcia Morris is a freelance writer: EasternCabarrusWriter@gmail.com
Want to go?
The Eastern Cabarrus Historical Society Museum’s open house will be held 11 a.m. (following the Mount Pleasant Christmas Parade) to 5 p.m., Dec. 12 and 2-6 p.m. Dec. 13. The museum is located at 1100 N. Main St. in Mount Pleasant, but the entrance is on College Street. www.facebook.com/Eastern-Cabarrus-Historical-Society-1442799685980011/.