When the Vinton History Museum first submitted an application to decorate a tree for the annual “Fashions for Evergreens” event at The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, it was put on a waiting list.
History Museum Executive Director Judy Cunningham says that someone dropped out at the last minute, giving the museum the opportunity to enter the prestigious United Way fundraiser, but little time to prepare the tree.
The museum volunteers brainstormed about a theme and Cunningham remembered they had “some gorgeous Victorian ornaments donated by Nancy Morris, so we decided to have a ‘Victorian’ theme.”
Volunteers, members of the museum’s board of directors, and Cunningham worked on the design, including Debbie Pitts, Mary Beth Layman, Ann Hewitt, Jan Dickens, and Becky Miller.
After researching ornaments during the Victorian era, the group put together the display beginning with Morris’s donated ornaments. KB Mercantile in Vinton loaned them a garland of pearls and lace, a tree skirt, and porcelain doll ornaments.
The museum had lights and some miscellaneous ornaments to add from the collection. The volunteers decided to make some ornaments themselves–including the Victorian “Tussie-Mussies,” which are decorated cones filled with bouquets of flowers and fragrant herbs.
They felt the tree should represent the Town of Vinton, as well, so photographs were framed from the museum archives of people, places and things in the Vinton area and are hanging on the tree.
Not on the tree itself, but part of the total display is a Victorian house, on loan from Jan Dickens, a sleeping cat and rocking horse from Ann Hewitt, and standing porcelain dolls from the museum’s collection.
“It was quite a community project,” said Pitts, Vinton Historical Society treasurer.
The tree was decorated on Sunday and Monday, November 21 and 22. In addition to those who worked on the design and the gathering of supplies, Judy Kelley, Becky Cundiff and Randy Layman helped with the actual decorating.
The public is invited to stop by The Hotel Roanoke to view the display. The Vinton History Museum tree is No. 9, located on the Hokie Wall in the Conference Center. Visitors are encouraged to vote for their favorite tree for the People’s Choice Award – with donations of any size. All proceeds benefit the United Way of Roanoke Valley.
Over the past decade, “Fashions for Evergreens” has raised more than $62,000 for United Way of Roanoke Valley and its nonprofit partners.
“Fashions for Evergreens” opened on Thanksgiving and will run through New Year’s Day.
The Vinton History Museum would like to thank The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center for allowing it to have a tree in the exhibit.
“We feel it is a great honor recognizing the museum and the Town of Vinton,” said Cunningham.
The Hotel Roanoke describes “Fashions for Evergreens” as a “timeless holiday tradition. It’s especially relevant this year as families and our entire community work to stay connected and help each other through tough times. While online visitors may only be donating a dollar or two when they vote for their favorite tree, by pitching in together the event helps us extend a hand to many families throughout the Roanoke Valley who are struggling to keep a roof over the head and food on the table,” said Abby Hamilton, President & CEO of United Way of Roanoke Valley.
To vote and donate online, visit https://www.uwrv.org/fashions.
The Vinton History Museum has many Christmas items for sale during the month of December.
Volunteers have created gift baskets full of goodies for sale, in addition to Town of Vinton tapestry throws, Vinton t-shirts, collector Vinton Christmas tree ornaments, Roland E. Cook notecards, commemorative engraved bricks to be placed in the pergola, vintage Black Swan yearbooks from various years, and museum memberships.
The Vinton History Museum is located at 210 E. Jackson Avenue in downtown Vinton.
You may also contact the museum at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 342-8634.