Luminaria event to light up Vienna on Saturday

VIENNA — Vienna is the place to be on Dec. 16 as the 1,500 luminarias are rolled out to line the streets for the 36th year. Walk, ride the free Vienna tram, or drive to enjoy the spectacle and the decorat-ed homes. From 5-8 p.m., stop along the way to see the museum and get a treat, visit historical buildings, enjoy entertainment at churches, and talk to Santa. A number of homes will be open to those with house tour tickets.

Headquarters for the evening will be the Vienna Heritage Museum located at 303 Race St. This is the must stop place for house tour tickets. The cost is $5 per person with children under 6 free and is the only cost of the evening. While at the museum, visitors can view a variety of memorabilia from the area. The demonstration by Daniel Martinek of button-making on the equipment from the last family-owned pearl button factory in the US is always a highlight. Serving also as refreshment center, partake of a free hot drink and edible treats.

Down Race Street at 106 find the former ferry tender’s house. Inside are a number of pictures from an earlier Vienna time. Ponder how the small building served as the Vienna Town Hall for about 50 years after 1932 when the 1931 bridge stopped the need for a ferry tender. But for the evening it is a special place for the young – Santa’s House. Santa loves to have his picture taken with a special visitor and your camera.

The Ewell House at the end of Race Street adjacent to the boat ramp contains perhaps the earliest house in Vienna. The middle 1 ½ story part with a colonial fireplace and wood panels is circa 1760. The front part of the house, overlooking the Nanticoke River, was built in 1877 by Dr. Ewell who operated his practice from the house for about 50 years. A rear part was added in the 1980s with some remodeling restorations since then. Tim Brower and Brenda Bassford invites visitors to enjoy the home decorated in a 1760 air. Also find The Water Street Gallery.

Elise and Harvey Altergott at 113 Water St. enjoy sharing their home which for many early years was a main center for Vienna hospitality. Operation as a tavern and inn began in the late 1700s. It was probably a welcomed sight as travelers came across the Nanticoke by ferry or the 1828 to 1860 bridge located almost in front of the building. Presently, the authentic and tastefully restored rooms not only contain nice furnishings but will, as for the past 20 some years, be full of a warm receptive spirit from the Altergott’s.

Lynn and Jewell Fluharty welcome guests to their home at 119 Water St. The house built in the early 1800s may have had earlier modifications, but two major renovations occurred in the last 59 years. After 1956, when Ruth & Russell Richardson purchased the house in poor condition, the two side chimneys were removed and the back raised to give a salt box design roof. From 2003 to 2006, Todd and Deborah Fischer extensively remodeled the house. The front porch and siding added in 2013 gives a more colonial outside look. Among their nice decorations inside, Ms. Fairbank, the wooden swan, will give a special silent welcome.

Across the street, the 2012 Gazebo is the highlight of Vienna’s water front park.

The former Customs House will be found at the corner of Church and Water Streets. Built about 1791 and reported to be the oldest surviving Maryland Customs House, it serves as a reminder of Vienna’s founding in 1706 and its importance as an early port. From about 1768 to 1866 Vienna served as the official port for customs collection in the area, one of the three on the Eastern Shore. Presently, the Customs House is furnished simply.

The 123-year-old St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Church Street will have out the welcome mat. At about 6 p.m. there will be a special sharing time with seasonal music from Vienna Elementary School select students, directed by music teacher Richard White. Enjoy the hospitality of church members in the Tillman-Wright Parish Hall completed in 2008.

Across the street, members of the 113-year-old Vienna United Methodist Church invite visitors to pause in their sanctuary as Bob Pinto plays the keyboard. As one takes in the beauty of the poinsettias, pause and reflect on the origins of the season. In the 1953 Fellowship Hall share hot and cold drinks and other goodies.

Brad McCready and Brix, a Golden Retriever, as new residents, welcome visitors to their 401 Linden Lane home. Many upgrades have been made this past summer to this circa 1920s house. Find nautical theme collections, a stein collection, antique furnishings, and traditional Christmas decorations.

Visit the Captain John Smith Nanticoke River Discovery Center on Old Ocean Gateway at Middle Street. In the former Nanticoke Inn, find a Nanticoke River related exhibit and some native American artifacts. Included are items from the Flagel Collection found at the former Chicone Nanticoke Indian Reservation located north of town. Of note is the small reconstructed native bowl.

For ease of parking off the streets, the recommended place to start the evening activities is to park at the Edwin A. Murphy Community Center, 104 Race St., or at the present Vienna Town Hall/ball field, Market Street & Middle Street extended. The Vienna free tram will take visitors to the Museum and to other spots in town.

The 1uminaria event is a special hospitality time for Vienna as it supports customs from the past. The southwestern part of the United States is best known for the custom of 1uminarias, which seem to have come from those of Spanish descent. The exact origin is unknown. One suggestion is that the Luminarias are symbolic of the shepherds’ bonfires the night Christ was born. Or it could be that they serve to guide the Christ Child to one’s door. Other supported customs of a more local flavor are sharing, the visiting of others, and the receiving of guests into our homes at Christmas time.

Sponsored by the Vienna Heritage Society with assistance of the Chicone Ruritan Club. Thanks go to the Chicone Ruritans and helpers who will be setting out at dusk and collecting later the luminarias.

Information is available from 410-376-3442.

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