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Mannequins bring life to museum

Log Cabin Museum Mannequin.  - Brett Cihon
Log Cabin Museum Mannequin.
— image credit: Brett Cihon

Marsha Watson has just returned to her home in Port Orchard after an ill-fated trip on the RMS Titanic. She left for the trip with two of the Grumble brothers, well-known local boys. Sadly, only one of the Grumble brothers survived the sinking.

The Orchard family will host an open house May 5 and 6 at their home on 416 Sidney Ave. to celebrate Marsha’s return to Port Orchard.

But don’t expect much from poor Marsha. Her nerves shot, she’s lying in bed under the watchful eye of her mother and grandmother.

“Marsha is up in bed,” said Maxine Spillinger, a volunteer at the Log Cabin Museum. “She’s looking like she had quite an attack of the vapors.”

Of course, Marsha Watson didn’t really return from a trip on the RMS Titanic. Marsha Watson is a mannequin. So too are the handful of other “residents” that  crowd the museum all summer long.

“They’re a fictional family,” Spillinger said. “But they tell quite a story.”

The mannequins are a crucial element to the Log Cabin Museum’s seasonal opening Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Owned and operated by the Sidney Museum and Arts Association (SMAA), the Log Cabin Museum joins the Sidney Art Gallery and Museum, as a downtown spot to learn about Port Orchard’s history.

Built in 1914 by Allen Bartow, the cabin was purchased by the local arts association in 1971 as a way to inform the public about daily life in the pioneer times to present day.

Soon after the building’s purchase, a group of mannequins was introduced to the cabin as a way to make the cabin come alive.

Every May when the cabin opens for summer visitors, the mannequins are arranged in a scene, said Spillinger. The mannequins, all members or friends of the fictionalized Orchard family, help better tell Port Orchard’s history.

“It makes everything come alive,” Spillinger said.

Volunteers for the museum have arranged the mannequins in various weddings, wakes, christenings and all other sorts of events. This year, the story of the Orchard family coincides with the 100th anniversary of the RMS Titanic sinking.

Upstairs, a mannequin “survivor” rests in bed working on a classic hair wreaths donated to the museum. Downstairs, the surviving Grumble brother mannequin spends time in the kitchen among old-fashioned ice boxes, an old stove and a classic Victrola Record player; all donated to the museum by local residents.

“The mother and grandma are consoling Mary upstairs,” Spillinger said. “She’s having a hard time.”

Along with positioned mannequins, this weekend’s free opening will feature a slideshow of pictures from the Titanic, cookies and drinks and a live band. Pam Heinrich, the president of the SMAA Board of Directors, said many look forward to the cabin’s summer opening.

“We’re always excited to open the cabin,” Heinrich said.

Heinrich hopes the cabin will soon be placed on the National Register of Historic Places, joining other buildings in  Port Orchard to earn the distinction, such as the Sidney Museum and Art Gallery. To align with the opening, Mary Peterson, a historian and volunteer at the arts museum, will speak about the cabin at the Kitsap Regional Library in Port Orchard on Tuesday at 2 p.m.

The cabin will be home to many more events throughout the summer. The cabin will stay open Saturdays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and also by special appointment.

And the mannequins, Spillinger said, will always be ready to greet visitors at the door.

 

“People love them,” she said. “Different people come

each year to follow the story.”

 

 

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