Though I saw it all around
Never thought I could be affected
Thought that we'd be the last to go
It is so strange the way things turn

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Wayback Machine

Like I said, last weekend was Christmas in Zoar. And like I said I took pictures. To start us off, a little history lesson.


The Zoarites also had an iron smelter and made ceramics to sell to the outside world. For Separatists they didn't live very separately from the rest of the world. However, they did last most of the 19th Century (longer than any other religious communal experiment).

But much of the interpreter services are now gone, so it's mostly buildings and people in costume now. However, the Village itself isn't locked off. Most of the homes are in private ownership and many of them are antique stores, bed and breakfasts, or other kinds of shops. Part of Xmas in Zoar is you get to tour some of these homes, which are in various stages of restoration, revamping, or completely gutted and rebuilt. They are, however, all damn expensive.


This one is now a home and a hair salon (formerly a doll shop). The owners have done a great job with updating the house, most of it being kept original, but the kitchen is all new (and quite fab). Of course it doesn't hurt to be able to have custom built wood cabinets (and I mean custom).


But much of the appeal is the "old Ohio" flavor of the town. These are some of the doors into the church (now UCC). In the basement of the church they have good food for not a lot of money. They also hold concerts inside, including organ music on their antique organ (which is a work of art).


Here we're looking out of Number One House (a communal living center and for this weekend the main crafter market, the one where they need to dress in period costumes) at the Village Hall (now historical museum).


One of the events on Saturday is the lighting of the tree in the center of the garden (Zoar's community garden, still kept up by the historical society). You can see the luminaries which line the roads (including torches at intersections) and the large tree and smaller trees that form the garden center (did I mention it's a formal garden?). You can also see the candlelit procession recessing (the procession comes down the hill from the church after a holiday service).


One of the big draws, however, is the bread and cookies baked in the original bakery using the original oven. It's pretty much an art to make this bread, and they sell a few varieties (oatmeal, black, and stollen). They don't often fire up the ovens, it takes a long time, but once warmed they stay hot for a long time. Basically they're a brick cave.


One of the differences with this oven is how it's heated. like most ovens of the time, you build the fire inside the oven itself (not underneath or on the side). Once the fire burns out you scrape out the ashes and bake the bread right on the bricks. This year was slightly different than before in that they had several bakes (which necessitated new fires being set in the ovens, typically they do one bake). The first fires are started at 1am for an initial bake at 10am. Like I said, it takes a bit. However, they sell a boatload of loaves and cookie.


Here they are fulfilling orders (and it pays to order the bread early in the morning, and I think this year they accepted orders earlier in the week) by oil lamp.


And finally the oven room work table at the end of the night. When we picked up our bread they still had about an hour to go until the end of the event, but we bought the last available stollen (even after placing our order). So, like I said, they sell out even when they have three bakes instead of one.

And the stollen was excellent, by the way. Think of it as a light fruit bread (with raisins, apples, and some other dried fruit) with spices. Yum.

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