Come to St. Clement's
Island - Potomac River Museum during the month of December to find a
respite from the hurrying and scurrying of holiday preparations and
gatherings. Bring the whole family to view the special doll and train
exhibits that will evoke your precious childhood memories and hopefully
create new ones.
The museum's halls will be decked with twenty-seven sparkling Christmas
trees. "The centerpiece tree will be decorated with, of course, dolls,"
says Lydia Wood, Historic Sites Manager and exhibit designer. "We're
very proud that this is our nineteenth year to do this and we've chosen
"Home for the Holidays," as our theme, in honor of our brave soldiers
serving in the military. We're very grateful that members of the
Black-Eyed Susan and Southern Maryland Doll Clubs as well as other
contributors will allow us to display their collections. Some dolls are
priceless! The Clubs are featuring German China dolls in some exhibits
China dolls are made from a very fine, white clay called Kaolin which is
what Bisque dolls are made of. What classifies as a China doll is a
second firing after the hair and other features are painted producing a
high glossy finish. The bodies can be a composite of paper and wood
products or cloth fiber. Germany is known for the best quality of these
types of dolls.
There will also be several collections of fine German Bisque makers such
as Simon-Halbig, K*R, Kestner and Handwerk on display.
"In the big seven foot tall by seven foot wide dollhouse we will have a
special Civil War doll and memorabilia exhibit," Lydia adds, "such as
books, purses, eyeglasses and mannequins dressed in Civil War uniforms."
Other Civil War additions will be Madam Alexander and Franklin Mint
dolls in the "Gone with the Wind" series to symbolize the south and
"Little Women" series to exemplify the north.
Some of the German Bisque dolls will be set up in outdoor scenes in
coats with snow and sleighs. Others will be indoor scenes with household
"We will also have theme displays such as emergency workers like
firemen, nurses, and policemen," adds Kimberley Cullins, Marketing and
Program Specialist. "There will also be patriotic dolls in red, white,
and blue costumes. Included in that group are the girl and boy scouts."
Other collections include Robert Conner dolls known as "Conner Kids"
from the April cartoon strip including Betsy McCall and Estelle Ann.
"Sunshine Family" dolls, made by Mattel in the 1970s. "Chicago" dolls,
with characters from the movie and "Sandy Sue" dolls in their special
house with furnishings. Rich Woods Toys produced Sandy Sue in the 1950s
in Annapolis, Maryland.
Four featured dollhouses, including the large one with Civil War
memorabilia mentioned earlier, an original 1932 dollhouse, a Victorian
dollhouse and a log cabin dollhouse will be completely furnished and
ready to capture the imagination of any child.
The Little Red Schoolhouse, on the grounds of the museum will be
transformed into a hustling, bustling train station complete with bells,
whistles, and chugging remote control toy trains. Children are
encouraged to take the controls under the watchful eye of the conductor,
museum volunteer Richard Gould. A private collector and toy train
enthusiast, Mr. Gould has operated the trains every December for the
last five years and has donated several of his collections to the
museum. "As long as I have trains, I'll never grow up!" There are four
train sets with scenery including a Buck County farm complete with
barns, animals, windmills and tractors. A turn of the century Christmas
village, a Thomas the Engine set and a train that turns the Carousel.
While your little conductor is driving the train you can view him or her
on a train cam.
Dolls in holiday costumes other than Christmas will be displayed in the
Schoolhouse, including souvenir dolls from foreign lands.
The gift shop offers a few collectible Christmas ornaments. One with the
original St. Clement's Island Blackistone Lighthouse and another is a
glass etching of the island.
The St. Clement's Island - Potomac River Museum is located in Colton's
Point at the end of Route 242 south, just off Route 5 south. Museum
hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 12 noon to 4 p.m. There is a nominal
admission fee for adults and children 12 and under are free. The museum
is operated by St. Mary's County's Department of Recreation, Parks, and
Community Services and is handicap accessible. Please call the museum at
301-769-2222 for more information.