Christmas decorations on display at Pratt County Historical Museum
PRATT — Just last week, Charmaine Swanepoel, Director of the Pratt County Historical Museum, was lamenting the fact that her love of community and Christmas was somewhat disjointed this year because, with the museum closed under COVID-19 regulations, she couldn't share the wonderful Christmas decorations with visitors. But then she got an early Christmas present of sorts from the 9-member board of directors for the museum - a few special days to be open for the public before Christmas.
"They got together for a special meeting and found there were several people willing to be there to open our doors for a few days," she said. "We are so very happy to open for our community, we have such wonderful things here to show."
Christmas-time at the Museum is open (free admission) at 208 South Ninnescah in Pratt from 1-4 p.m. on Dec. 17 and 18; 1-3 p.m. on Dec. 19 and 20; 1-4 p.m. on Dec. 22 as well as one day after Christmas, 1-4 p.m., Tuesday, December 29.
"I just love Christmas, it is my favorite time of the year," Swanepoel said. "We decorated it all before Thanksgiving, no really knowing if we could be open but hoping. I plan to keep up all the decorations through January because you never really know how things will go."
Swanepoel, assisted by Deb Boley, Genny Schmidt and Belinda Gimpel, went all out with lavish red and gold Christmas decorations throughout the multi-roomed historical museum, with special purple and silver displays in the veteran's area, pink and gold themed Victorian-style accents in Grandma's Garden area and a variety of bombastic colors in the Main Street exhibit area. It took them three days to get all of the Christmas decorations in place for the season.
"We didn't have a plan, we just used what we had available here," Swanepoel. "There was a lot of red and gold from the wedding reception we had here last year at this time, and of course we always get a lot of donations from people in the community, so we put everything we could into use. It's just wonderful."
A special display case has been propagated by the Pratt Area Quilters Group, and in it an old Singer treadle machine is surrounded by handmade, hand-crafted Christmas quilts of old and new styles.
"All of the quilts in this area were made by people in Pratt," Swanepoel said. "We have some very gifted quilters who have made these items, wonderful work."
Other items of interest to note include a 1909 holiday dress, hand stitched and displayed near some intricately-created Christmas cards from the early 1900s. A wooden music box with large round discs, donated to the museum by Bill Thompson, plays early-rendition Christmas music in the Main Street boardwalk area, and a Christmas tree decked out in candy cane attire highlights a children's tea table setting from days gone by.
"There is just so much to see here," Swanepoel said. "It really gets me in the Christmas spirit just to step inside the door. It's a great place to be and we are so happy to share it with others."
For those looking for last-minute Christmas gifts, the museum has a good selection of historical books available online or in person. For more information, call the museum at (620) 672-7874.