Decades of Decorating

Putting “a new twist” on holiday finery, “Old Favorites: Decades of Decorating the Mansion” illuminates the season at Oglebay Institute’s Mansion Museum in Oglebay Park.

Each year since 1973, the Mansion Museum has been trimmed for the holidays by professional decorators and talented amateurs. They decorate 13 period rooms of the former summer home of industrialist and philanthropist Earl W. Oglebay.

Sponsored by WesBanco, this year’s holiday decorating event is open to the public for tours now through Sunday, Jan. 2. Using the “Old Favorites” emphasis, decorators have chosen themes from years past to inspire their room designs. The holiday memories range from 1974’s “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to 2008’s “Holidays in Bloom.”

“Since 2010 is the 80th anniversary of the founding of Oglebay Institute, we thought it would be fun to look to the past for inspiration. The decorators have had a lot of fun putting a new twist on these ‘old favorites,”‘ Christin Byrum, director of museums, said.

The decor ranges from elegant to extravagant. Some of the themed rooms are “A Christmas Fantasy” from 1989, “Christmas Wedding” from 1993, “A Season of Celebration” from 1994, “Sugar Plum Fairy” from 2001 and “My Favorite Things” from 2007.

As visitors’ tours begin in the Reception Room, a “Twas the Night Before Christmas” scene features a larger-than-life active family of mice. The stuffed animals include Papa in his red knit vest and spectacles, Mama reclining on a settee, a daughter in an apron and a son in a stocking outfit.

The Dining Room, depicting “Walking in a Winter Wonderland,” features a snowy mantel bedecked with silver and gold baubles and black ornaments, adorned with sheet music ribbons and an arrangement of sleigh bells. Trees in the room feature white bows and poinsettias with dramatic black accents. At the table, each place setting is topped with a black and white cornucopia filled with oversize peppermint candies.

In the Pioneer Kitchen, a tree is decorated simply with snowflakes, copper ornaments, red bows and strings of cranberries. An arrangement of cranberries and other fruit surrounds an old copper tea kettle on the table.

Moving upstairs, the Victorian Bedroom celebrates “Sugar Plum Fairy” with a ballerina mannequin holding dozens of pink roses. Tutus and costumes are arrayed around the room, while figurines of ballerinas are displayed on tables. The Federal Bedroom recreates “Holidays in Bloom” with sparkling arrangements of golden balls, feathers, flowers and ribbons. With “Sweets for St. Nick,” the Sewing Room features a tree adorned with sparkling golden gingerbread men and red ornaments and topped with a red Christmas cracker.

Recalling “Christmas Past,” the Empire Bedroom is decorated in a brilliant blue and white color scheme. Of special interest are Oglebay family-related decorations, such as an ornament depicting Earl W. Oglebay’s home in Cleveland, a lamp with a painting of a mill owned by Crispin Oglebay and Sons in Bridgeport and a boot painted with a picture of the Old Main clock tower at Bethany College.

“My Favorite Things” in the Child’s Bedroom include nutcrackers, groups of snowmen, old porcelain dolls and other playthings. The Library offers a display of Christmas books and boxes of old-fashioned ornaments under the tree.

Adding to the retrospective theme, Oglebay Institute staff members have decorated the Empire Sitting Room for “Wrapped in Creativity: Eight Decades of Oglebay Institute in the Community,” depicting holiday programs that the institute has presented through the years. Costumes for “A Christmas Carol” represent Towngate Theatre; “Nutcracker” costumes signify the School of Dance; a tree with animal ornaments celebrates Schrader Center; a miniature Sweeney punch bowl and other glass pieces honor the Glass Museum; an arrangement of gifts and toy bears marks the Mansion Museum and a model house symbolizes Stifel Center.

Returning to the main floor, a “Christmas Wedding” is celebrated in the Victorian Parlor, where a satin and beaded wedding gown is draped on a settee, an ornate wedding cake is topped with a trio of silver trees and presents wrapped in silver and gold are displayed. Mr. Oglebay’s Office is decked with large hurricane lanterns holding wine-colored candles, greenery, wreaths and a large inverted V-shaped arrangement over the mantel mirror for “A Season of Celebration.” The Game Room’s “Season’s Greetings” theme features “Teddy Bear Town” populated by every sort of bear imaginable.

“Far-out” decor marks the Oval Sitting Room where “A Christmas Fantasy” is depicted with metallic trees and mannequins wearing sequined mini-dresses and wild wigs. Each display is done in a different color: hot pink, neon green, brilliant turquoise and vivid violet.

The mansion’s hallways, doorways and staircases are trimmed with garland and festive ornamentation.

“We are so grateful to our sponsor, WesBanco, the volunteer decorators and our Mansion Museum committee for making this event possible,” Byrum said. “They invest so much time and money to transform the Mansion Museum into a yuletide dream. This exhibit is a wonderful example of the power of volunteerism and corporate philanthropy.”

Decorators and rooms are as follows: hallways, Scott Klinkoski; Victorian Parlor, Heather McClure; Child’s Bedroom, Lesley Link and Shelly Lewicki; Reception Room, Mary Dorcas Washington Questers; Federal Bedroom, Yvonne Jacobs, Elm Grove Flowers; Sewing Room, Lynn Buch Interiors; Empire Bedroom, Michelle Gorby, Custom Painting by Shell; Library, TJ Maxx; Oval Sitting Room, As You Like It Catering and Florals by Margo; Mr. Oglebay’s Office, Crafts 2000; Pioneer Kitchen, Lenora Turbanic, Cat’s Paw Art Studio; Game Room, Kelly’s Salon & Spa; Empire Sitting Room, Oglebay Institute; Victorian Bedroom, Don and Rebecca Niess; Dining Room, Dawn Kozusnik, Bethani’s Bouquets.

The Mansion and Glass museums are open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m Friday and Saturday. Guests should arrive at least 30 minutes prior to closing to allow time to tour. The museums close at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve and are closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. For more information, call 304-242-7272.