The Victorian Era - which stretched from 1836 to 1901 during the reign of Great Britain's Queen Victoria - brings thoughts of women in dresses with high necks and puffy sleeves and men with walking sticks, mustaches and pointed beards in suits with top hats, all straight out of a Charles Dickens novel.
Those scenes will be brought to life April 16 at the Calvin House in Duncansville, as the Blair County Historical Society holds its annual fundraising gala, with this year's theme being "Victorian Faire."
"Baker Mansion [in Altoona] was built in 1849, part of the Victorian Era, and a lot of the rooms are still decorated in that genre, so [the era] is near and dear to our hearts," said Jeannine Treese, executive director of the the historical society. "It was also the heyday of the iron furnaces here in Blair County, and the iron furnaces are what brought people here, what brought the railroads here.
Mirror file photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Baker Mansion in Altoona, which was built during the Victorian era, houses the Blair County Historical Society. The society’s annual fundraising gala, “Victorian Faire,” will be held April 16.
"The Victorian Era is a very nice historical era, very colorful and very recognizable."
The event will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. Tickets cost $70 each or $130 for a couple for members; $75 each or $140 for a couple for nonmembers; or $650 for a corporate table of 10.
The gala, according to both Treese and Monica Dietrick, the president of the historical society's board of directors, will feature small games of chance, raffles, punch cards and a silent auction with items donated by local businesses, in addition to music and other entertainment.
"Being at the Calvin House, there will be good food and a good time," Treese said. "It's a time to party with your friends and help the historical society."
Despite the theme, Dietrick said patrons are under no obligation to dress in Victorian fashion.
"It's up to them," she said. "We don't care if they come in jeans. We just want people to come, but if they want to dress up, it's the perfect opportunity."
Both Treese and Dietrick stressed the fundraiser is all the more important this year. The historical society has suffered a drastic financial challenge, as the state's funding last year was completely cut.
"They used to contribute to general operating support, heating, maintenance, etc.," Treese said. "The county contributes a little, but we get nothing from the state. We are trying for private grants, but [the different foundations] are getting bombarded. There are just more and more nonprofits going for a piece of a smaller pie."
"It's really hurting us," Dietrick said.
All the proceeds for the event help the historical society, which in turn cares for Baker Mansion, as well as Royer Mansion in Williamsburg, the Etna Furnace in Catherine Township and the Dick Schoolhouse in Martinsburg.
"As one of our board members likes to put it, we are the memory keepers of Blair County," Treese said. "We have the stories of the county's fathers and grandfathers and great-grandfathers, and we have artifacts from all over Blair County. [This fundraiser] helps preserve them and keeps the society going."
Mirror staff writer Cory Dobrowolsky can be reached at 946-7428.