The Ghost of Christmas Celebrations Past was a combination article. It was about a "Victorian Tea" event and a time in the Victorian period of history. Its point was to explore how Christmas celebrations had changed over the last 100 years, but really, how much it had stayed the same. It was a lot of fun to write and especially research, since I got to "play" with real historical artifacts. And I got to know some of the great people at the Rockford Area Historical Society. I hope to donate some of my time and energy there in the near future as the building and activities there thaw out for the winter.
On December 7th of this year, the Rockford Area Historical Society held its 19th annual Christmas Tea at the Ames-Florida-Stork House, where visitors could experience how Christmas was celebrated in Wright County at the turn of the 20th century. It might seem hard to imagine, but with all the advances in technology and changes in lifestyle that have occurred in the past few years, many Christmas customs have been unchanged for over a century. Most of these traditions can trace their roots to the period known as the Victorian Era, between 1837 and 1901. In many aspects, Christmas is celebrated much the same way now as it was back then.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Ames-Florida-Stork House located at 8131 Bridge Street in Rockford, it is a museum that contains 150 years worth of preserved rural Minnesota history. George Ames, who helped to found Rockford around 1855, began construction on the home in 1860. It belonged to the Ames family until the home was sold after George’s death in 1875 to his friend, Joel Florida. It was passed among members of the Florida family for almost 60 years until it was purchased in 1936 by Clinton and Meda Stork. Realizing how special it was, the house was lovingly restored and maintained by the Storks and its treasures shared with the community. In 1985, the house was purchased anonymously and donated to the city. The Rockford Area Historical Society (RAHS) was created in 1986 to help the city preserve and manage it ever since.
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