Kaplon Building Windows Recapture Excitement: Journey Stories opens in Frederick County August 31.
By Rebecca O’Leary, Curator at the Brunswick Railroad Museum.
Brunswick is gearing up for Journey Stories in a big way. The Smithsonian exhibit is rolling into town on August 31 and will feature six weeks of exciting programming and events and will offer visitors the chance to enter an iconic Brunswick building – the site of the V. Kaplon Company, which was Brunswick’s premier department store throughout most of the Twentieth Century.
“We’re especially excited about housing Journey Stories in the Kaplon Building,” said Journey Stories committee co-chair Robin Bowers, of the Brunswick Branch of the Frederick County Public Library. “We participated in the “Stories From Main Street” Youth Access program, during which local students took oral histories from a number of longtime Brunswick residents to produce a feature length video called Brunswick, which will be part of the Journey Stories exhibit and will also be treated to a “red carpet” premiere at the Brunswick Library on October 11.
During this process, we learned that Miss Fanny Kaplon made a yearly trip to New York every November to check out the Christmas displays at stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, and Macy’s. She would return to Brunswick, cover the display windows with paper, and begin preparing the Kaplon Store’s display windows. People in Brunswick anticipated the moment when the paper would come down and the window displays would be revealed for days, and would gather on the streets for the big moment. We’re going to try to recapture that moment by covering the windows in mid-August and then loading in window displays celebrating local traditions and hot spots such as Brunswick’s baseball heritage, our railroad connections, and iconic local businesses such as the Imperial Theatre and the V. Kaplon Co. These window displays will feature artifacts from the Brunswick Railroad Museum and on loan from local citizens. The windows will be revealed at 10am on August 31st during a ribbon cutting ceremony.
In addition to the window displays, the Journey Stories committee has also created an interactive exhibit focusing on the popularity of mail order catalogs like Sears and Roebuck in railroad communities like Brunswick. “Mail order was huge around here,” said Journey Stories committee co-chair Rebecca O’Leary. “People ordered everything from musical instruments to sewing machines to houses.” Visitors will be able to see examples of typical mail order items and will learn more about the area’s Sears and Roebuck homes.
The action isn’t just limited to the Kaplon Building. Journey Stories events will be taking place all over the City of Brunswick. A full day of opening celebration events on August 31st include a Brunswick Stew cook-off contest in downtown Brunswick, displays of Native American hoop dancing, Irish dancing, and raks sharqi, and a special kickoff concert made possible by the Community Foundation of Frederick County featuring GRAMMY nominated performer Ray Owen in Brunswick’s Square Corner Park. Other events included living history demonstrations, festivals, and a gala celebrating the mid-century glory days of the Hawaiian Nightclub (a favorite haunt of Patsy Cline’s!), featuring the Star-Spangled Big Band and the Hub City Lindy Hoppers, courtesy of the Harry George Family Trust. Finally, Journey Stories will end on a high note with Project Run-a-Way, a dynamic living history performance based on the experiences of runaway slaves presented by the Historic Annapolis Foundation and made possible by the Tourism Council of Frederick County.
Journey Stories Brunswick offers something for everyone! Check us out at www.journeystoriesbrunswick.org.
This post was contributed by Rebecca O’Leary, Curator at the Brunswick Railroad Museum, and provides an overview of programs and events which tell Frederick County’s Journey Story. MHC is thrilled to bring the Museum on Main Street program to great cultural institutions across the state.