By Rick Skeens
Special to The Greenup Beacon
Saturday evening, Dec. 13, the Heritage Arts, Science and Tourism Center(HASTC) hosted it’s annual Christmas open house at the historic McConnell House in Wurtland, Ky. The house was decorated so beautifully by Claudine Williamson and her Committee that it was truly a breathtaking site.
Christmas trees lit up the rooms with their flashing bulbs that glowed off of the freshly shined hardwood floors. Candles glistened as they flickered off of the perfect, period correct, plastered walls and sounds of many people talking, laughing and enjoying each other’s company in general filled the air. We can only imagine that over the past eighteen decades there were many, many nights surrounding the holiday season just like this one.
The HASTC hosts several events through the year as opportunities to bring the community in, let them enjoy the McConnell House, and even interest them in getting involved with the organization, which, is always willing to accept volunteers.
The house was opened up for tours and continued until folks stopped showing up around 9 p.m.
Throughout the course of the evening, the lower rooms of the house were full with people waiting to take tours of the home.
There was a group of re-enactors present adorned in 19th century dress which was led by Colonel Charles Dahnmon-Whitt of Flatwoods, Ky.
This addition to the open house truly gave us a feel of the history that this house has been witness to. It is amazing to think of how the dress, the customs and even the gifts that would have been given at Christmas time have drastically changed.
The re-enactors talked and visited with those who came for tours of the home as all the children went in to a very special room.
Santa Claus was even at McConnell House on Saturday evening taking requests from the little ones. Bringing Santa in as part of this event was a great way to get the children interested in the history that dwells within the walls of this Federal style, pre-Civil War era dwelling.
As the evening wound down, there were still a few very pleased people present at the home. Many of the HASTC board members were sitting around the dining room table talking about the evening’s success.
HASTC President Ralph “Bud” Matheny said “This is by far the best open house that we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
Matheny has been President of the organization for three years and has led many long waited ventures since his taking office. Several house updates and improvements have been made under his leadership, many restoration projects have been completed and a website has been launched giving the McConnell House an online presence that had never existed. The 2014 Christmas open house was definitely a crown jewel in his Presidency.
In the closing minutes of the evening Matheny said “We had a great turnout this year, but, we will do it bigger and better next year.”
The McConnell House is a popular event venue, tourist attraction, educational establishment and welcome center located along US 23 in Wurtland, Ky. You can learn more about the historic structure and all of it’s operations by emailing at email@example.com or visiting the website www.mcconnellhouse-ky.com. Attending one of these events will definitely spark your interest in all of the history that homes like these bear witness to.
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