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Hormel Historic Home: Unique holiday placements

You probably have a good idea what a chamber pot is, but the one in the collection at the Hormel Historic Home is now being used as a holiday decoration vessel. 

Thank goodness portable toilets are not a part of our daily life any longer, but they did serve their purpose throughout history.

Based on the markings on the bottom of the pot, the one we have on display in the sitting room was manufactured by the East Palestine Pottery Company in the early 1900s. It is made of heavy ceramic and is called Ironstone White.  The Hormels were able to add indoor plumbing to the home when they purchased it in 1901, but it is likely the Cook family before them kept a pot or two at the ready.

An old chamber pot at the Hormel Historic Home, now used as Christmas decoration. Photo provided

Another household item that is now being used to enhance our holiday décor is a metal flour sifter. Invented in 1819 by Jacob Bromwell, the device was and still is used to make flour lighter and easier to mix into other ingredients. The ultimate purpose was and is to help bakers make better products. Ours currently has a cardinal and greenery resting in it, but it is an original Bromwell sifter. We just don’t bake here anymore.

Entertaining guests in the Victorian era often involved the use of all the finest tableware.  Standards among those in high society were followed as to who should sit where, what time you should arrive and how you should dress. 

Tables were set with crystal and silver and etiquette was closely watched. The Hormel Historic Home has crystal and silver, but we don’t adhere to too many strict rules when guests come to visit. Today our silver and special glassware is filled with ornaments and greenery. We can serve you tea from a silver pot, but we’ll have to take the decorations out first.

The items in the collection and on display at the HHH are meant to reflect a time in history. The purpose in sharing them is to teach about the past, to show how progress changes lives, and to help us appreciate the conveniences we have now. 

Many items have been modernized but are still in use, while others have been replaced by mechanics or technology. 

And with a little creativity, some of these outdated items can become holiday decorations!  What do your antiques do for the holidays?


Walk-in holiday tours

  • Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with a few exceptions
  • Free for members. $5 for nonmembers

History Happy Hour: A Dickens of A Christmas presented by Randy Forster

  • 5:30 p.m., social, 6 p.m. Presentation, Monday, Dec. 9
  • Free for members of the HHH, Mower County Historical Society, and the Friends of the Library. $5 for non-members

Healthy Living Series: Healthier Holiday Treats presented by Jen Haugen, Registered Dietician

  • 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 12
  • Free. Samples will be served

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