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Special exhibits part of Muncy’s historic home and walking tour

By Staff | Oct 25, 2013

PHOTO BY Barb Barrett Nella Storm spoke for nearly 3 hours straight to guests in the Sones-Taber Home, 504 S. Main Street as part of the Historic Walking Home Tour on Sunday. She is describing the circa 1835 sofa and the 1825 mantle clock which boasts a carved eagle, an image symbolic of the Napoleonic era.

MUNCY – Every year during the fall season, the town of Muncy along with the Muncy Historical Society likes to open their doors to the public for the Historic Homes and Walking Tour. Held on Sunday from noon to 4, Main Street could be seen with pedestrians and volunteers in costume dotting along the sidewalks to enjoy the tours and guides who explained in detail the remarkable history of some of the community’s unique homes.

Ticketholders stopped first at Muncy Historical Museum, 40 N. Main Street, to view a display of garments and accessories that were often worn by the women when they were in mourning from the loss of a loved one. It was not uncommon for the women to grieve for weeks at a time, sometimes encompassing a whole year. And during that time, they always wore black. Also at the museum the movie “Lincoln” was playing in the Society’s meeting room, where visitors were able to admire a restored pew and kneeling pad from St. James Episcopal Church.

Next stop on the tour was the “Risk House”, 106 N. Main Street showcasing 12 foot high ceilings and a very “impressive stairway.” The Risk family settled into Muncy after embarking on a ship in May, 1810 to come here with their son James, who was born en route. The prepared brochure explained that the Risk family became one of the most successful merchandising families around, selling a general line of products from cottons to carpets. In 1868 the house became property of Dr. William and Sarah Hepburn Hayes who was well known for her artistry and literary skills. The Risks also build the Fort Brady Hotel.

Following the numbered homes, next came the Rissell-Sprout House, 204 S. Main Street, which occupied the Batesville Casket Company’s authentic replica of Abraham Lincoln’s coffin. Actress Pat Jordan portrayed Mary Todd Lincoln who captured visitors with her story. The coffin was adorned with silver colored handles, a white satin interior, and constructed of solid walnut. The house was originally owned by Captain John and Fran Hatch Rissell. Rissell served in the Civil War from 1861 to 1864.

Another highlight on the tour was the Sones-Taber home, 504 S. Main Street, where resident and historian Tom Taber has resided with his wife Barbara for the past 50 years. Nella Storm was a volunteer guide and explained many of Taber’s artifacts and the construction of this clapboard sided home built in 1927. Taber had on display several authentic history books, mainly about the railroad, and his writings on Muncy history. Family heirlooms, notably Empire furniture and portraits could be seen throughout the house. Lithographs also accessorized Taber’s interest in the railroad industry. Family portraits date back to the 19th century.

Bill Corson, dressed in his Civil War uniform, guards the replica of Abe Lincoln's coffin at the Rissel-Sprout House on 204 S. Main Street in Muncy during the Historic Homes and Walking tour on Sunday afternoon. Silver tacks extended the entire length of the coffin's sides.

Many visitors said they enjoyed seeing the Taggart-McBride House on 220 Pepper Street. The Weightman Trolley took passengers to the home that was built in 1848 by Judge Thomas Taggart. His descendants lived there until 1925 when the McBride family bought the property at an auction. In 1991, the home was sold and purchased by the Poultons. The brick home is Georgian with symmetrically placed windows. Dentil work can be seen on the molding at the roof line and graces the ceiling of the front parlor. The kitchen has a built in cupboard and working fireplace that has been restored. The property also houses an original bank barn and decorated with a 19th century Union Block quilt pattern.

After a trip to Muncy’s Heritage Park, Visitors ended their experience at the St. James Episcopal Church where a special presentation was given by Mary Todd Lincoln. This one of Muncy’s finest buildings according to the Historical Society and was designed by well known architect, Richard Upjohn, founder of the American Institute of Architects. The original Episcopal church was built in 1832, but was dismantled to make room for a bigger church in 1858. The church is considered a “masterpiece of Gothic revival style” and is listed with the National Register of Historic Places.

Proceeds from the tickets will be devoted to benefit the Muncy Historical Society’s preservation goals.

At 204 S. Main Street, Mary Todd Lincoln, played by actress Pat Jordan, is in mourning as she points out the decorative painting above the mantel. During the early 1800's, women would decorate walls with still life and landscapes in oil.