Chesterton IN 3-15-2011 – Step back in time to October 15, 1889, with a visit to a living history performance at the Westchester Township History Museum, 700 W. Porter Avenue, Chesterton.  “The Voices of the Brown Mansion, 1889” production will take place on May 1 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.  Each performance will be followed by tea, coffee, and refreshments of the period.

Funds raised by the “Voices” production will be used to preserve four original Brown family photographs which the museum recently acquired.  The photographs need to be cleaned and re-backed with acid free material.  Two of the photos need special attention because of acid “foxing” that has discolored the images.

Because of space limitations, only 24 tickets will be sold for each performance, for a total of 48 guests.  Guests will be divided into groups of six to ease movement through the house.  Tickets are $15 and are currently on sale at the museum.  Tickets will not be sold on the day of the performance.

The interactive “Voices of the Brown Mansion, 1889” performances will introduce visitors to four characters located throughout the 1885 home.  Staff members and volunteers will portray the characters.  Additional staff and volunteers will serve as guides and coordinate the refreshment service.

In the parlor, guests will meet Charity Brown who, with her husband, George, built the Brown Mansion into which the couple moved from their large farm in Jackson Township.  Visitors will learn about the Brown family and about the role of women in Victorian domestic life.

A visit with George Brown in his study set up in the current dining room will introduce visitors to this strong-minded and successful farmer and land speculator.  He will explain how he built his fortune and will discuss his views on innovations in farming technology, politics and the future of Chesterton.

Arthur Bowser, the Chesterton Tribune’s first owner/editor, will greet visitors on the second floor of the Brown Mansion.  Although he never actually had an office in the Brown Mansion, the museum’s workroom has been reconfigured to represent his 1889 office, which was then downtown.  He will talk with visitors about the challenge of operating the Chesterton Tribune, current town news, and the growth of Chesterton.  Visitors who are not able to walk upstairs to the second floor will be able to view a video of Arthur Bowser’s presentation downstairs.

Hilda, the Brown’s fictional Swedish cook, will entertain guests in the pump room off the kitchen where visitors will find her cooling off after a busy morning baking.  Actually standing in the “Westchester room” between the museum store and exhibit gallery, Hilda will discuss Victorian menu planning, cooking, and the Brown’s favorite foods.  She’ll also give her own views on the family and on domestic amusements of the day.

After meeting the four characters, guest will adjourn to the exhibit gallery where they will be served coffee, tea from Molly Bea’s Ingredients, and pastries of the period provided by Tonya’s Patisserie.

Westchester Township History Museum, an educational and cultural service of Westchester Public Library, is open to the public free of charge Wednesday – Sunday and by appointment.  For information, call the museum at 983-9715.

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