The Jefferson Township Historical Society officially began their season Sunday, opening the George Chamberlain House and Miss Elizabeth’s Shoppe to the public.
Both will be open the first Sunday of each month until October, when members scramble to get the building ready for their Christmas showing.
According to JTHS president Christine Williams, on average, twenty to thirty people visit the gift shop and the museum when they are open during the year. “We usually have a steady stream of people come through,” she said. But come Christmas time when the museum decks out in red and green and stays open for two days, Williams estimates that between 200 and 300 people stop in for a visit to the 143 year old Victorian home.
The gift shop is named after Ruth Elizabeth Speaker, the first bride of the house. The surrounding garden is also named after Elizabeth. The shop is located on the bottom floor of the house in what was the original kitchen and features a dumb waiter used to transport meals from the kitchen to the dining room above.
The most recent renovation to the kitchen has been to the walls and floors. Years of linoleum and other flooring were lifted up to reveal wide-planked pine floors with soft warn edges and imperfect spacing.
The walls were stripped of years of paint and patch jobs and repainted, with the help of a local paint shop, with the original happy yellow paint color. But despite the latest renovations the building still does not have running water said Williams.
The gift shop is stocked with lots of vintage, unusual, seasonal, and locally made items, said Williams. It’s the only location that sells Historical Society tee shirts and aprons and the Historical Society cookbook. The shop is scheduled to hold their annual Mother’s Day plant sale on Saturday, May 11.
Williams mentioned that the museum and the gift shop would not be able to survive on its own without the financial help from the township. In addition, the historical society also applies for grants to help defer costs of renovation projects and maintenance issues.