Historical Society holds annual luncheon

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By John Barnhart

The Bedford Historical Society held its annual Hanging of the Greens Luncheon at the Bedford Historic Meeting House last week.

Hanging of the Greens refers to putting up Christmas decorations incorporating greenery. It was traditionally done just prior to Advent. The decorations would remain up through the 12 days of Christmas and would be taken down after Epiphany.

In this case, the Historic Meeting House had already been decorated. The luncheon is used by the Historical Society to raise money that will be used in restoration projects.

About 80 people showed up to eat lunch and listen to Christmas music played on the Historic Meeting House's vintage organ. Built by The Packard Co., of Ft. Wayne, Ind., it's been the Meeting House's organ since the church was built in 1838. The organ still works, and playing it gives the organist a good workout. Mary Markham, who played it, had to continuously pump the organ's bellows via two foot pedals.

The organ has its original bench, which slants forward. Markham is not sure of the reason for this, but notes that it gives the organist something to watch out for while playing.

"You have to be careful not to slide off of it," she noted.

What does the Bedford Historical Society do?

"We just advocate for preserving the rich history we have in Bedford," said Betty Gereau, the society's treasurer.

Right now, a major concern is what happens to Old Yellow. A survey conducted by the Department of the Interior, prior to the designation of Bedford's historic district, makes note of the "Spanish Colonial Revival Bedford Elementary School."

"Due to the school's high degree of architectural quality and the rarity of its style, the Bedford Elementary School is one of the finest of its type in Virginia," it states.

"It was the style of the day back in 1912," Gereau commented.

According to Gereau, the building is eligible for tax credits to whoever restores it. She said that, if the city continues to own it, the city could sell those credits.