McWhorter House has new additions, plans for Christmas

Posted October 31, 2012 at 11:17 am

McWhorter nativity set.jpg

The McWhorter House Museum is gearing up for the holidays. The Hand County Historical Society wants to promote several acquisitions over the summer as well as upcoming activities.

Connie Schroeder, president of the Historical Society, pointed out a front-porch pillar that had been blown down during the strong winds of October 16-17. It is an original pillar, says Schroeder, but it was not a load-bearing column. “We want to restore it accurately,” she said, “but we want to assure museum friends that the rest of the entry area is intact.”

If you haven’t visited the museum recently, Schroeder says several items were donated over the summer. The hospital donated an operating table, an anesthesia machine and an infant incubator from the old 1948 hospital. Those items are presently in the depot area.

On the second floor of the house, in the children’s area, a toy farm home, barn, and field implements are new acquisitions.

Schroeder related that Jerry Alexander, McPherson, Kan., donated the farm set. His parents both taught in Hand County at different rural schools. He donated the lesson plan book his mother, Marion Wilson, had used. Everything is recorded in perfect penmanship.

His father, J. Ernest Alexander, taught at Center School from 1928 to 1938. He built the farm buildings and implements, putting everything together in great detail. Once done, he took it to school and had students construct like objects, which won first place at the State Fair.

“If someone has something in their attic that looks like what we’ve received, it could be the replicas made by students,” Schroeder commented.

The McWhorter House has received a stereoscope, which was a popular home entertainment from the 1850s to the 1930s. A stereoscope allows viewing of separate images, as a single three-dimensional image. The Historical Society Board would appreciate receiving stereoscopic cards that might be hidden away in a trunk. “We’d like to have the stereoscope set up so visitors, especially students, could have a hands-on experience viewing the cards,” Schroeder said.

The next item on the agenda is McWhorter House’s nativity display. Anyone who would like to share their nativity set is invited to bring it by November 17 or 18. Anything goes…the set may be old, new, traditional, handcrafted, whatever. If there is a story, a memory or tradition to share, please include it on a card.

The nativity display will highlight the museum open house the evening of Christmas on the Prairie, December 6. The sets will continue to be displayed the evenings of December 7, 8 and 9.

“The nativity display was Mary Christopherson’s idea,” Schroeder said. “This year’s display will be a tribute to Mary’s memory.”

Schroeder says the museum is now “spruced up,” thanks to the exterior paint job last summer, and the colors are the same as the original house paint. But more work remains to be completed.

“We’re planning to have a photo of the McWhorter House on wood available, with a history of the museum on the back, similar to what was done when the old high school was demolished,” Schroeder explained. The hospital is doing a similar project with the 1948 hospital.

The historical society is dedicated to restoring and maintaining the museum and depot, because each is an important part of Hand County history, and are depositories for all types of historical items.

Dr. Port McWhorter was a son of Arno L. McWhorter, who came to Miller in 1882 and platted an addition to the fledgling town. Port received his medical degree in 1904, served in World War I, and then resumed his practice in Miller. He took the first steps toward establishing a hospital, first on the second floor of a building that was at one time the post office. In 1925, it was moved to the second floor of the old opera house, the Bohning Building (where Coss parking lot is located), and continued operation there until Hand County Memorial Hospital opened its doors in 1948.

When Dr. and Mrs. McWhorter moved to Los Angeles, Calif. they gave their home to the Miller School as a gift. The school used it as a dormitory, and it also was where hot lunch was served for many years.

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Ruth A. Moller|The Miller Press

CHRISTMAS IS COMING. Connie Schroeder shows a “loaned” nativity set that will be on display December 6-9.


MRS. PORT McWHORTER by their front entry. At the time, the porch was screened in.

Holiday Open House featuring nativity displays

December 6, 2012 during Miller’s ‘Christmas on the Prairie’

Bring your Nativity set to the McWhorter House Nov. 17-18 to share for the display.