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Published: Monday, 12/31/2012

Maumee museum displays spirit of holidays past through toys

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Tour leader Mary Frances Berger  listens to a question from Todd Zielinski  of Maumee, left, as his family tours the Wolcott House Museum. Today is the last day for the Christmas display. Tour leader Mary Frances Berger listens to a question from Todd Zielinski of Maumee, left, as his family tours the Wolcott House Museum. Today is the last day for the Christmas display.
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With a fresh frosting of snow, the Wolcott House Museum Complex was perfectly decked out Saturday to greet visitors seeking a little more Christmas spirit.

The Wolcott House, which was built between 1827 and 1836 by James Wolcott, a prominent businessman, is decorated from top to bottom for the holidays with a special exhibit dedicated to “Toys of Christmas Past.”

“Now everything has batteries or it’s done for you,” said volunteer Mary Frances Berger, who was leading a tour through the 14-room Federal-style mansion. “In the mid-1800s, toys showed children how to do something — how to build, how to ride a horse, how a train works, how to be a mother with a doll. It was tied into being educational.”

The local history museum, home of the Maumee Valley Historical Society, will be open for one last time today from noon to 4 p.m. before closing for the winter. Guided tours are available at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Among the more unusual toys on display is a “goat cart” that Mrs. Berger said was indeed pulled by a goat and carried the Wolcott children around the yard. An antique wooden swing and jumping chair — “that’s nothing new,” she said — sits nearby.

Her husband, John Berger, who also was in period costume to greet visitors at the front door, said another attention-getter is a three-wheeled buggy that dates to 1900. With its red velvet seat and small iron pedals, it is more like an elaborate tricycle.

A small wooden doll and a Santa Claus are among the toys on display  at the Wolcott House Museum in Maumee. A small wooden doll and a Santa Claus are among the toys on display at the Wolcott House Museum in Maumee.
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“That catches a lot of interest,” Mr. Berger said.

Next to the buggy is a portrait of a young descendant of the Wolcotts seated on the buggy, which is described as “a favorite toy.”

Today is the last day to see the museum for the season and it also is the final day of the inventory clearance sale at the museum store.

Amy Danforth, special events coordinator, said those interested in history and antiques are invited to the historical society’s annual antiques show and sale Jan. 26 and 27 at the Lucas County Recreation Center. Some 90 dealers will be at the show, which costs $7 for admission.

Ms. Danforth said proceeds go toward the upkeep of the historic buildings at the Wolcott complex and for programming there.

The Wolcott House Museum Complex is located at 1035 River Rd. in Maumee. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, $2.50 for students, and free for historical society members.

For more information, go to wolcotthouse.com.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.



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