Wine, women and song

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Virginia City will spotlight its past, present and future, as well as the state of Nevada during Comstock Historic Preservation Weekend at the Historic Fourth Ward School and Piper's Opera House Friday though Sunday.

The Historic Fourth Ward School Museum exhibits will feature 1870s fashions, letterpress printing, a walking tour, a Victorian Tea, a fundraising kickoff party and a concert.

Piper's Opera House will offer a wine-tasting featuring Nevada wines, appetizers, an exhibit of works by Nevada artists and music by local and visiting performers.

Historic Fourth Ward School

At the Historic Fourth Ward School, a long-ago resident's life will be examined through the clothes she wore.

Executive Director Barbara Mackey said the wedding dress of Mary Sullivan Holland, who got married in Virginia City in 1870, is on display, along with other dresses, capes and clothing demonstrating the style of an 1870-1890 Comstock miner's wife.

"These clothes, they were here, they went down streets in Virginia City in 1870, when the place was at its height," Mackey said.

She said the wedding dress was not white, which was typical for that time.

"We have a day dress of hers and capes and her daughters' graduation dresses," she said, explaining that the daughters graduated from Butte, Mont., schools, where the family moved in 1883.

"They had seven kids, and from what we can piece together, Mary survived all the kids but (daughter) Kaitty," Mackey said.

Mary eventually went to live with Kaitty in San Leandro, Calif. Kaitty kept her mother's dresses in perfect condition, until her death, when they were passed on to a neighbor, because Kaitty had no relatives left.

"The neighbor gave them to her daughter, who knew the story," Mackey said. "Then she said, 'These need to go back to Virginia City.'"

The dress exhibit is part of the Fourth Ward School Changing Gallery, and will be open 10 a. to 5 p.m. daily through Oct. 31.

Other Fourth Ward events include the kickoff party for the museum's Parties of the Year fundraisers from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Friday. The 30 parties include dinners at places ranging from the Wild Horse brothel in northern Storey County, to the Dangberg Ranch, St. Mary's Art Center, a Sutro town tour, and more.

Saturday's events will feature a narrated walking tour around Virginia City; a Letterpress printing workshop by Chic DiFrancia and Carol Clifford, with a demonstration on the Chandler press used to print Fourth Ward School newspapers; an "Out of the Closet" roundtable brown-bag lunch, where visitors will be asked to tell what's in their closet; and a concert by the Comstock Children's Chorus, led by director Squeek LaVake.

On Sunday the Nevada Preservation awards will be given by Ron James, State Historic Preservation Officer, followed by a Victorian fashion show by Paulette Grune, that was one of the most popular events last year.

Finally the Carol Morgan Page Memorial Silver Tea, featuring tea and pastries. The Tea's namesake was at the forefront in Comstock historic preservation work.

Piper's Opera House

The venerable hall has always done something for Comstock Historic Preservation Weekend in conjunction with the Historic Fourth Ward School, said creative director Bill Beeson.

This year the opera house will hold two events, a jazz-blues concert on Friday evening, and an open house, wine-tasting, Comstock Arts Council Spring art show and local performers on Saturday.

"We are featuring living Comstock artists and celebrating Nevada," he said. "We are pouring Nevada wines and hope to feature some of those wines in our bar. The focus for us is to help complete the renovation of the Old Corner Bar downstairs."

On Friday, the Lulu La Fever Duo of Phoenix, Ariz., will play their jazz, blues and swing sounds at 7:30 p.m.

"Her CD is really wonderful," Beeson said. "Really lyrical and jazzy-bluesy."

The Open House on Saturday will feature wine, music and art.

He said the wine will be from Tahoe Ridge Winery in Genoa, Churchill Vineyards and the Pahrump Valley Winery. There will be hors d'oeuvres offered as well.

Local musician Glenn Buschine, formerly of the Comstock Cowboys, will be among the local performers on stage.

Art will be exhibited in the upper part of the entry as well as the performance hall.

"The art show is all about Nevada artists and how the legacy of the arts continue from the 19th century into the 21st century," Beeson said.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or call 881-7351.


WHAT: 22nd annual Comstock Historic Preservation Weekend

WHEN: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Historic Fourth Ward School Museum and Piper's Opera House, Virginia City.

CALL: 847-0975 or 847-0433




10 a.m.-5 p.m. - Fourth Ward School Changing Galley Exhibit Openings: The

Kaitty Holland Clothing Collection The Kaitty Holland Collection includes her 1870 wedding dress, day dress and numerous ensembles demonstrating the clothing and style of an 1870-1890 Comstock miner's wife.

5:30-7 p.m. - Kick Off Party for PARTIES OF THE YEAR at the Fourth Ward School: Your first opportunity to reserve your space at the most extraordinary

adventures, outings, activities and feasts all packaged with themed cuisine in unique locations and individually hosted by community donors and friends. The Parties are offered throughout the Year and you cannot experience them anywhere else.

7:30 p.m. - Lulu Lafever Duo at Piper's Opera House: Sizzlin' Jazz, Blues and Swing. Tickets are $15 in advance; $20 at the door. Call 847-0433 or 1-866-422-1956.


10 a.m.-3 p.m. - Historic Comstock Walking Tours by DeTours: Includes entry to Mackay Mansion and Piper's Opera House. Donation: $25.

11 a.m.-4 p.m. Letterpress Printing Workshop at Fourth Ward School:

Letterpress Printing with Chic DiFrancia and Carol Clifford. Demonstration on Chandler Press used to print the Fourth Ward School newspapers and annuals. Take home a printed souvenir. Museum admission.

Noon-1:30 p.m.: Out of the Closet: The Kaitty Holland Clothing Exhibit

Conversation Roundtable Lunch: "What's in Your Closet?" Brown bag lunch. Free with museum admission. Brown bag lunch.

2-3 p.m. - 14th Annual Comstock Children's Chorus: Schooldays in Virginia

City 1878: Squeek LaVake directs the acclaimed Comstock Children's Chorus in a

medley of songs. Their performance is always one of the highlights of the weekend. Museum admission.

3 p.m. - Piper's Opera House Open House, Music, Art Show and Wine Tasting: Features Nevada wines, local musicians, artists and hors d'oeurves. Benefits the opera house. Tickets are $30 in advance; $35 at the door. Call 847-0433 or 1-866-422-1956.


1-1:30 p.m. - Nevada Preservation Awards: Nevada State Historic Preservation Awards presented by Ron James, State Historic Preservation Officer. The awards recognize individuals and organizations that have made a significant contribution to preservation in Nevada. Museum admission.

2-3 p.m. - Victorian Fashion Show: A promenade of authentic historic fashions and finery during the Victorian era. Paulette Grune commentating. Many of the costumed participants are members of the Nevada Civil War Volunteers. Museum admission.

3-4 p.m. - Carol Morgan Page Memorial Silver Tea: Carol Morgan Page, who was instrumental in Comstock preservation, started serving tea and locally-prepared treats at the Fourth Ward School Museum to bring people and history together during the national celebration of historic preservation. Museum admission.


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