“By the Fireside” brings to life the traditions and decorations used during Christmastime many years ago. Picture yourself sitting by a warm fire with stockings hung from the mantle ready for Christmas surprises. There’s so much to see in seven rooms filled with Christmas of old that you’re sure to find memories that have been tucked away in your mind from years in the past.
The Arms Family Museum in Youngstown presents its 12th annual “Memories of Christmas Past” from November 23 through Sunday, January 5, 2020. This display has been designed each year by the mastermind of Anthony Worrellia, who explores the world for new ideas and rare Christmas decorations. Each year the rooms take on a different theme which gives them a special glow.
Anthony searches all year for the perfect items to display. He borrows from friends and acquaintances all over the country. His connections through a group of international Christmas collectors, The Golden Glow of Christmas Past, help him in his search for new ideas. A team of volunteers and staff begin setting up the displays in late September.
His ideas might come from something as simple as a collection of Christmas cards and postcards. That happened this year when the cards led Anthony to create a dining room setting with an Asian and European touch.
A display of those old-fashioned honeycomb decorations from the 1920s caught my eye. Large red plastic bells hung throughout the exhibit that used to hang in the classroom. A favorite in the library was a seven and a half foot crystal tree containing over 2,000 crystals which was wrapped with blue lights creating a magical feeling.
A fun Scavenger Hunt along the way had you looking carefully for a list of things to be found. Included were 4 snow dogs, an owl with a Santa hat, a bonsai tree, and as many elves as you could find. It also caused guests to interact with each other creating an all-round friendly atmosphere.
The setting is perfect as it showcases the Greystone house built by Wilford and Olive Arms in 1905. Upon her death in 1960, Olive left the Mahoning Valley Historical Society her home and its contents with the stipulation that it be developed as the Arms Museum.
While the first floor has Christmas in every corner, the second floor shows the mansion as it was when the Arms lived there. Children prefer the basement, which resembles an old log cabin, as this is the place where they experience hands-on activities.
In the lower level at “Santa’s Village,” children and adults enjoy getting dressed in Christmas costumes of Santa, elf, or drummer boy. All of these costumes are locally made. Santa’s sleigh, made by another local gentleman, gives the perfect background for a photo opportunity. There are craft tables also where you can make bead or paint chip tree ornaments, holiday cards, or even a miniature Greystone mansion.
Catch the Christmas spirit as you stroll through the three floors of Arms Family Museum. Volunteers throughout are very helpful and answer questions easily. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from noon – 4:00 from now until January 5, 2020, with their display of “Memories of Christmas Past.” In January, they will be rearranging and cleaning to be ready to open the traditional mansion in February.
Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for children with toddlers under 3 being admitted at no charge. Active military, as well as military veterans, are always free. It’s quite a popular spot as over 8,000 people enjoyed the Christmas exhibit in 2018. Something new this year is permission to take pictures without a flash. Everyone enjoys photos of memorable places they visit.
Families have made “Memories of Christmas Past” a family tradition since there’s something new every year. Everyone will enjoy awakening memories and making new ones during a visit to the Arms Family Museum. The magic of Christmas never ends.
The Arms Family Museum is located in Youngstown, Ohio at 648 Wick Avenue. It is near the Youngstown State University campus so watch for their exit signs.