Blog Archives

Happy Holidays from Currituck to Cashiers (C2C)


Thanks to members of our cultural heritage community across the state for sharing these holiday photos. Our C2C team wishes you wonderful holidays and all the best in 2015!

CurrituckKeepersHouseFt.Fisher-MurrayvilleMiddleA glimmering moon rises to brighten the dark solstice season sky behind the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. The Keeper’s House in the foreground is decked out in Christmas finery. The Murrayville Middle School Jazz Band provided holiday musical favorites at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site’s Holiday Open House.

SampsonCountyHistoryMuseumWinborne country store-MurfreesboroRowanMuseum2Santa rides a tractor at the Sampson County History Museum in Clinton. Meanwhile, the Winborne Country Store in Murfreesboro showcases seasonal greenery and treats. A gingerbread house-making event delights visitors of all ages at the Rowan Museum in Salisbury.

Transylvania Heritage MuseumThe Transylvania Heritage Museum hosted a traveling exhibit of mid-20th-century aluminum Christmas trees, coordinated by The Aluminum Tree and Ornament Museum (ATOM). Visitors enjoyed the display from Saturday, November 29th until December 20th, when the museum closed for the season.

???????????????????????????????LowerCapeFearHistSocBeautiful decorations grace the dining table of the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society‘s Latimer House. Not to be outdone in the realm of fancy adornment, Tryon Palace focuses its annual decorating efforts on a specific theme. This year the peacock (right) was the inspriration.

spinning at John Wheeler HouseZeiglerHouseParlorSimpler ornaments predominate at humbler sites. For example, candlelight illuminates a spinning demonstration at the Joel Lane Museum House in Raleigh. Stockings hang from the parlor mantle at Historic Edenton’s Zeigler House.






A parade of Santa Clause figurines ushers in the season at the Caldwell Heritage Museum in Lenoir. A tall Christmas tree brightens the stairwell at the NC Museum of History in Raleigh.

GraveyardOfAtlanticFestive decorations surround the Fresnel lens at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras.

CashiersHistoricalSocietyA crowd gathered around the pavilion on December 1st to sing carols at the Cashiers Historical Society‘s Lighting of the Town Tree in the Village Green. May your holidays be similarly filled with light, music, and many warm gatherings of friends and family.


Polishing Silver

Kathy Ruse of the Joel Lane House polishes a spoon during a C2C workshop in 2010.

Kathy Ruse of the Joel Lane House polishes a spoon during a 2010 C2C workshop.

Our first rule on polishing silver is to avoid it. Not because collection managers are lazy, but because each time we polish to remove tarnish, we rub away a microscopic layer of the material. Over time polishing can diminish and even deface the historical material. Most of us have seen incidences of this where the engraving on silver artifacts has become barely visible after many years of polishing. Silver plated objects can loose their shiny metal casings readily with polishing and reveal patches of copper or another base metal beneath.

Several storage materials can prevent tarnish by blocking sulfuric pollutants from coming in contact with the silver. 4 products are especially effective:

Still, even with methods to prevent tarnish, there are times when silver artifacts must be out on exhibit, outside of protective cases. Perhaps this is most common within historic house museums, where silver often gleams from table settings and sideboards. When polishing becomes necessary, collection stewards should use the gentlest methods and materials possible. In the past, our “Collection Care Basics” workshops have included practicing with silver plate utensils, and this activity has been one of the hands-on components participants have enjoyed. We have followed the directions outlined in the National Park Service’s Conserve O Gram on silver polishing. First wiping pieces down with cotton rags dampened with ethanol and then stirring a polish made from precipitated calcium carbonate mixed with distilled water to form a cream consistency. (Click here and scroll to page 3 for more complete instructions.) Other great online resources are two videos that the Nebraska State Historical Society’s GeraldR. Ford Conservation Center produced—one on polishing (solution varies slightly from the NPS recommendations) and another on applying microcrystalline wax as a protective coating.

Now, as our C2C project focuses more on disaster preparedness and recovery, our Basics workshop will concentrate more on storage methods as disaster damage mitigation. We will use the hands-on time previously spent on silver polishing to practice creating storage cradle mounts from ethafoam instead. We hope the online resources we have suggested, along with whatever personal guidance we can offer, will help you through the polishing process. NC metals conservator, Jane Bynon, is another local resource and is one of the few experts in the region who has the capability to lacquer objects–another tarnish-preventing option for silver on long-term display.

What methods for preventing and/or removing tarnish have been most successful for the collections under your care?

Creative Fundraising Ideas

Thanks to Laura Ketcham, Coordinator for the Federation of North Carolina Historical Societies, for the ideas presented in this post. Thanks also to Belle Long of the Joel Lane House and John Love of the Belmont Historical Society for their contributions.

Historical organizations, like many other non-profits, have had to get especially creative with fundraising ideas during these tough economic times. A few groups have ventured beyond the well trodden realm of special dinners, concerts, walking tours, and silent auctions. They are trying to address community needs and harness local resources while building their own capacities.

Making rag dolls is one of the possible birthday party activities.

Two years ago the Joel Lane House in Raleigh began offering its site as a birthday party venue. Features include dressing up in period costumes, an age-appropriate guided tour of the 1770s house, a choice of one of 4 staff-led colonial craft activities, and games. Parties last one hour and can include up to 15 people. The Joel Lane House charges $10/ person for this event. Curator Belle Long reports that this continues to be a successful fundraiser.

A view of the Stowe Park Special from a vintage postcard

The Belmont Historical Society, just west of Charlotte, has joined forces with a local business to raise money for a special project. As an ongoing fundraiser, Pace Recycling (between Mt. Holly and Stanley) channels revenues from metal scrap to the Belmont Historical Society upon the individual deliverer’s request. The Society then directs these funds toward restoration of the Stowe Park Special miniature train and one passenger car and the renovation of a shed as a “depot” to house these vehicles. Stowe Park, a popular entertainment destination in Belmont during the mid twentieth century, is an important part of the community’s cultural heritage. In four months the Society has raised $100 as a result of recycling and, in combination with other fundraisers, it is about a quarter of the way toward its goal of $30,000 for the train restoration project.

Sometimes fundraising benefits extend beyond the actual dollar amount raised. The Belmont Historical Society’s project is also raising awareness about the community’s past and encouraging members and visitors to recycle. The Joel Lane House’s idea not only builds on its educational mission but also provides a service to families with school-aged children at a reasonable cost, while reaching out to that important demographic.

What unusual fundraising projects has your organization tried? Were the results successful, whether financially or otherwise?