The Seneca County Museum, 28 Clay St., is to be open for holiday guests 1-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The museum docents, Seneca County Historical Society volunteers and groups from the community have added festive decor for "Christmas Magic at the Museum."
Just inside the front door, visitors can view the enormous Christmas tree in the main parlor. Decorated by Paula Crum, it is draped with brightly colored ribbons and dotted with butterflies to illustrate the magic of nature.
Museum director Tonia Hoffert said butterflies are a traditional symbol of hope, new life and freedom, as promised by the Christ child.
"Without Christ, we wouldn't have Christmas," Hoffert said. "When I see a butterfly, it represents beauty and light and hope. ... It starts out ugly and grows into something beautiful, even though it's only here for a second and then gone. It's like family and friends. They come into your life, make an impact, make memories with you, and then they're gone. But do you ever forget them? No, because they're always in your heart."
Hoffert said she also is mindful of all the deployed military personnel who are away from their families for the holidays. Months ago, volunteers purchased the butterfly ornaments without knowing how they would be utilized, Hoffert added. Shortly after that, Mark Levans donated a collection of tree ornaments in memory of his wife, Cyndy.
Crum brought in more items and combined everything to assemble the glittering evergreen.
"I've got a feeling this is a unique tree. I don't think you're going to find another one like it," Crum said. "Cyndy's memory is in that tree. ... I'm very proud of it."
The Blossoms and Butterflies Garden Club also included butterflies on the tree they adorned with red, white and gold in the upstairs front hall. Although butterflies often are associated with Easter, that celebration began with the Christmas story.
Hoffert said Thanksgiving and Christmas remind her to be grateful for weathering family health crises in 2013 and having support from many people during that time.
"The Historical Society this year really stepped up. Nancy and Mike Ringle and a lot of them have been in here putting a lot of love and effort into the museum when I have not been able to be here this year. It's been very appreciated," she said.
A collection of porcelain Santas is on display in the bookcase of the secretary desk next to the museum's staircase. Crum shared the history of the figures, which came from the Crum family in memory of her husband's aunt, Eunice Crum Borer Jones.
Crum said her aunt started out making and painting porcelain but later concentrated on creating the blank porcelain pieces. She had hundreds of molds and shipped her work to artists all over the country.
"She had the business of making porcelain for china painters to paint. She had a cottage business in her house. Everybody wanted her porcelain because it was so fine, so thin. Very few people could pour porcelain as thin as she could, and the china painters loved her work," Crum said.
An antique wicker doll carriage is the focal point in the other front room at the museum. Crum decorated much of that room in pink and purple ornaments and lights with dried hydrangias on the mantle.
The Heritage Quilt Guild has loaned coverlets and quilts to accent the rooms throughout the museum.
In addition to the tree ornaments, Levans also donated some angel figures and Santas to the museum in Cyndy's memory. Local artist Richard Rochester has brought in hand-carved wood Santas and wooden bowls for display, as well. More Santas can be seen in the upstairs hall. The staircase and tree in the main hall have been arrayed in red and white to coordinate with the Santas.
Across from the Gibson Bedroom, the museum's Victorian toy furniture is a highlight to note. It was crafted in 1830. The music room, pioneer bedroom and Junior Home room also are decorated in the "Christmas Magic" theme.
Refreshments are to be served in the Fort Ball Room.
The museum also is to be open 1-5 p.m. Dec. 7 and 8 during Victorian Christmas Weekend and again 1-4 p.m. Dec. 14 and 15.
Hoffert is working to complete an exhibit of local grocery stores for holiday visitors. She and historical society members have been collecting old advertising, photos and other artifacts for that display. Descendants of the store owners have been contributing many of the items.