Christmas trains and trees in Salem
“It’s an entirely new exhibit,” Burchfield Homestead Museum Director Janis Yereb said.
The boyhood home of the famed American artist Charles Burchfield, located at 867 E. Fourth St., is the place to go for the Trees — about a dozen or so decorated in a wallpaper theme to match pieces of original wallpaper designed more than 100 years ago by Burchfield and recently donated to the museum.
For Trains, stop at the makeshift station known as Salem attorney Fred Naragon’s office and enter through the Sugartree Alley door into a world of model trains of every size and see imaginative scenes along every inch of track. This year’s new feature is a 1929 standard gauge steam engine that Naragon recently acquired.
Admission is a $3 donation and gets visitors into both venues. Children under 10 accompanied by an adult get in for free. Trains and Trees serves as the annual fundraiser for the Burchfield Homestead Society, the group dedicated to preserving Burchfield’s boyhood home as a museum. Burchfield grew up in Salem, graduated from Salem High School and soon made a name for himself as a watercolorist, recreating many scenes from his own neighborhood on Fourth Street and around Salem on canvas.
Yereb said they were very lucky to receive a donation of about a dozen pieces of original wallpaper designed by Burchfield from Sandy Cimenero and Jeanne Elser, great-grandnieces of his wife, Bertha Burchfield. A lot of the wallpaper dates back to 1918 and is original. To protect the wallpaper, the pieces were placed on pieces of foamcore and shrink-wrapped.
She also explained that she found a printer, Joe Rudinek of Boardman, who was able to create ribbon paper based on some of Burchfield’s paintings, then the ribbon was used to decorate some of the trees, situated near prints of the paintings. There’s a painting in the front room of the family’s Christmas tree in that room and Yereb always has a tree decorated to resemble Burchield’s own Christmas tree. This year, the tree is decorated with ribbon paper created from the painting.
Another tree created to resemble the painting known as Autumnal Fantasy also has ribbon paper using the Autumnal Fantasy painting. Besides Yereb, people who helped with the displays include Ginger Grilli, Robert Viencek, Denise Bryarly, Paul Kapusta and Cheryl Mattevi.
The trees will remain on display during subsequent weekends from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays long past the Christmas holiday.
The trains can be seen this weekend only in Naragon’s office. Naragon has been a model train collector for a long time and was excited about his new toy: the 1929 steam engine. A guy he knew from the Train Collectibles Association meeting in Pittsburgh found the engine for him.
He explained that standard gauge is the largest size model train you can buy, but they quit making them in 1942 because of better technology from the war, going smaller with what’s known as O gauge, the size many people are likely familiar with when it comes to model trains. Then there’s HO gauge, which is half the size of O, then an even smaller size known as N gauge and then the tiny Z gauge.
The display also includes a model of the Japanese bullet train, which operates on magnets and air, and a trolley. Almost as much fun to see as the actual trains, which travel along several elevated tracks besides the main track, are the accessories that set the scenes next to and within the tracks.
The event includes a 50/50 raffle and refreshments. For information, call 330-337-9578 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday or the museum at 330-717-0092.