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February, and especially Valentine's Day, is considered a romantic time, and Hower House in Akron has dedicated its display to Victorian romance traditions with "Romantic Notions," which can be seen through Feb. 28.
"We thought we would go with a play on words," said Linda Bussey, assistant director. "There's notions of being romantic, and then there are sewing notions."
People in the Victorian era, particularly women, liked to exchange small but heartfelt and often practical gifts with their friends and sweethearts, Bussey said.
"Many women did sewing," Bussey said. "They did it either as a hobby or as a necessity."
The third floor trunk room at Hower House has a display of small vintage sewing machines, on loan from a volunteer's private collection. Displayed with the machines, many of which were designed for children but could be used by adults, are sewing accessories such as thimble and thimble-holders, needles, stitched items and even an "exploding box" which includes sewing accessories.
"You just pulled up the top, and the sides fall down," Bussey said, demonstrating. "Inside is everything you need for sewing, save for thread and a thimble."
Also displayed throughout the house are vintage Valentines, mostly from private collections, and information on the meanings conveyed with some of the gifts that might have been given, such as flowers and gemstones.
Hower House will have Sweet Saturdays of February on Feb. 16, and 23, when guests will be served gingerbread and hot tea in the dining room at the conclusion of their tour. The gingerbread and tea will be served from 12:30 to 4 p.m.
Guided tours are available Wednesdays through Saturdays from noon to 3:30 p.m. The last tour begins 30 minutes before closing time. Group tours for 10 or more people are available by appointment. Cost is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors 65 and older, and $2 for students. Group rates are available; call for details.
Hower House is at 60 Fir Hill, on The University of Akron campus For details, call Hower House at 330-972-6909 or visit www.uakron.edu/howerhse online.