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History with a holiday flavor

Mikaylee Preuss
Delaware Public Media

Delaware Public Media works with aspiring high school journalists across the state through our youth media program Generation Voice.

Over the coming weeks, we are featuring work produced by Polytech High School students Mikaylee Preuss and Kenny Guy, including this visit to the the Johnson-Victrola Museum in Dover during the holidays.

Sweet melodies fill the air at the Johnson Victrola Museum in Downtown Dover. Various types of record players are on display, dating back to the early 1900’s, all featuring different designs and functions.

The museum’s site supervisor, Chris Hall, says each player has its own personality.

“There are two types, one’s called a talking machine which has the big horn on top, the other one is a Victrola. They’re simply just hand cranked machines. You’d have to wind up the motor that’s inside” said Hall. “And that’s pretty much what we feature here, giving people the chance to hear the earliest records on very early record players, and experience what music use to sound like back then.”

And at this time of year, the museum takes on a holiday theme, giving visitors a taste of of what this time of year was like in the 1920s.

"We’ve set up a store with lights and some kind of decorative storefronts. We have a tree set up. We have holiday music that we can play on our machines for people who come in," said Hall. "So really, just recreating what we found, especially in old photos and descriptions of what storefronts were like at that time."

Hall notes the holidays were a big deal for stores during that era.

"The idea being that this was when everybody made the majority of their money, so companies leaned very hard into the holiday season. We’ll also be featuring holiday music throughout the month as well," he said.

The museum is open to the public every Wednesday through Saturday’s from 9:30-4pm for anyone to hear the many hymns and harmonies of the season.

For more information, you can reach the museum at (302)739-3262.