VIENNA — Luminaries and Christmas lights lit up the evening in Vienna on Saturday, Dec. 21. The town’s 38th Annual Luminaria featured 1,500 luminaries as visitors braved the chilly winter solstice evening to enjoy the event’s activities.
Sponsored by the Vienna Heritage Foundation, the Town of Vienna and with assistance of the Chicone Ruritan Club, the free Vienna tram took visitors to the museum and to other spots in town. Optionally, guests were invited to enjoy the night as our ancestors did with a ride through the streets in a horse drawn carriage.
In addition to the Vienna Heritage Museum, several historical buildings and churches were open along with homes to those with house tour tickets. While at the museum, visitors viewed a variety of memorabilia from the area, including a demonstration by Daniel Martinek, running the button-making machine. This equipment is from the last family-owned pearl button factory in the U.S.
Down the street at 106 Race Street, the former Ferry Tender’s House with pictures from an earlier Vienna. The small building served as the Vienna Town Hall for about 50 years after 1933 when a bridge across the Nanticoke River ended the need for a ferry tender, but, for the evening, was a special place for the young as it served as Santa’s House.
Michael and Patricia Magrogan, 101 Race Street, new to the town, graciously offered to share their home with visitors for the evening. The original 1 ½ story boasts a colonial fireplace, wood panels and enclosed staircase and may be the earliest Vienna home. c1760.The front part of the home overlooking the Nanticoke River was built in 1877 by Dr. S.S. Ewell who operated his practice from the house for about 50 years.
Pat and Candace Donoho at 103 Water Street, opened their beautiful home for this year’s event. Originally from the Western Shore, Pat and Candace have chosen Vienna to spend their retirement years. Pat’s favorite spot can be found on the upper porch that boasts a panoramic view of the beautiful Nanticoke River.
Steven and Leslie Levin 125 Middle Street, Percy’s Purchase, is one of Vienna’s oldest structures. The three-story section built in the late 1700’s and the telescope 1 ½ story built about 1850. Some remodeling changes have taken place but the working fireplaces with beautiful mantels remain.
Justin and Victoria Glessner at 124 Middle Street invited guest to take a break by their fire pit.
The former Customs House, found at the corner of Church and Water Streets, was built about 1791 and reported to be the oldest surviving Maryland Customs House, it serves as a reminder of Vienna’s founding in 1706 and its importance as an early port. From about 1768 to 1866, Vienna served as the official port for customs collection in the area, one of the three on the Eastern Shore.
The Captain John Smith Nanticoke River Museum is located at 113 Ocean Gateway and houses interesting information on the town history and is home to a collection of Native American artifacts. Also, on display is a replica of the original shallop used by Captain John Smith to explore the Nanticoke River in 1608. Researchers have pinpointed three areas along the western shore of the river where the crew of the shallop encountered Native Americans. One site in particular is now the township of Vienna.
Also a stop to admire, the period updates to the exterior of Brad McCready’s home at 401 Linden Lane, circa 1920, as well as the beautiful renovations and antique furnishings in the interior.
The 123-year-old St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Church Street was also open with a special sharing time with seasonal music from select Vienna Elementary School students, directed by their music teacher. Enjoy the hospitality of church members in the Tillman-Wright Parish Hall.
Across the street, members of the 113-year-old Vienna United Methodist Church invited visitors to pause in their sanctuary as one takes in the beauty of the poinsettias and reflect on the origins of the season. Join them in the church hall for fellowship and refreshments.
Another stop, the Dorchester County Sheriff Department’s Police substation located at 109 Market Street, was constructed in 1923 by canner and merchant Winfield Webster for use as his office.
No small town is complete without a local fire department, and the Vienna Volunteer Fire Company, incorporated in 1935 was also open to visitors for the evening.