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Palmer resident makes a difference at Dallas Heritage Village

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Submitted photo: Doctor’s Office Team was made up of Melissa Prycer, Director of Education, Dallas Heritage Village; Raquel Phillips ; Evelyn Pennings ; Kaitlin Valentine, Grace Enda; Kyra Miller; Isabel Brown; Caroline Margolies; Sydney Abdo. Submitted photo: Doctor’s Office Team was made up of Melissa Prycer, Director of Education, Dallas Heritage Village; Raquel Phillips ; Evelyn Pennings ; Kaitlin Valentine, Grace Enda; Kyra Miller; Isabel Brown; Caroline Margolies; Sydney Abdo.

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PALMER - Next time you visit the 19th century Dallas Heritage Village Doctor’s Office, Alice (the real skeleton hanging around in the office) will give you a personalized tour via your cell phone, written by Dallas Heritage Village Junior Historians; and you will, without a doubt, leave grateful for modern medicine advancements. 

Palmer resident Evelyn Pennings along with nine other Dallas Heritage Village Junior Historians – students ages 11-18 who volunteer throughout the year in a variety of areas – recently reimagined the 19th century Doctor’s Office, one of 38 historic structures at Dallas Heritage Village, sponsored by Baylor Healthcare System. 

A team of ten of the 30-plus Junior Historian members tackled the project, dividing into teams which researched and labeled medical tools, identified and researched medicines used for the Apothecary Shop, and narrated a tour from the perspective of the skeleton, which historical records indicate was named Alice. The exhibit re-opened to the public on Monday, July 4. 

Evelyn Pennings, 16, researched information about each of the types of medicine in the Apothecary shop and categorized them by illnesses to treat. She also worked on the formatting and layout of the medicine information booklets, medicine labels, and signs.

“It has been so interesting to learn all about how medicine was used in the past and how much we have advanced since then,” added Pennings. “It’s also amazing how some plants are still used today!”

“From a museum perspective, this is top quality museum work, making the Doctor’s Office a very informative, realistic, and interesting attraction at Dallas Heritage Village,” said Gary Smith, Executive Director, Dallas Heritage Village. “We couldn’t be more proud of their work and want to thank each of them for an outstanding job, along with our Director of Education Melissa Prycer who led the youths throughout the project, as well as the students’ families for all of their support.”

The Doctor’s Office, a house originally located in Oak Cliff at 1017 E. Jefferson at the corner of 6th Street and built between 1885 and 1890, was moved to Dallas Heritage Village and restoration completed in 1976, helping to expand the Village for the bicentennial. While the house, now furnished as the office of a general practitioner, complete with an Apothecary Shop in the rear, was not originally a doctor’s office in Oak Cliff, it was common for such homes to be converted. A simple version of a Queen Anne house, it has three rooms and two shed rooms added in the back. The property was originally owned by Thomas L. Marsalis and his Dallas Land and Loan Co, the developer of much of Oak Cliff but went to auction (selling for $500) to pay off debts in 1896. Dallas Heritage Village acquired the home from a realtor and his wife, D.D. McDonald and Lona Mae. Mr. McDonald had a tenant at the time paying $16 a month to live there. Previously, the house had a few different owners such as an electrical engineer at Sanger Bros. and then a school teacher, and seems to have become a rental property by 1930. 

Since its inception in the early 1980s, the Junior Historians program has evolved from only a volunteer opportunity to a full-fledged program with a wide range of activities. In 2009, it became an official chapter of the Texas State Historical Association’s Junior Historian program and won the “Outstanding First Year Chapter” award in 2009. Junior Historians volunteer throughout the year in a variety of positions - some only volunteer at special events, some regularly give building tours, some help with hands-on activities and some dress up and act out the historical roles. 

“Dallas Heritage Village gives me the opportunity to be a part of living history,” added Pennings. “I love dressing up and giving tours to visitors. I’ve worked in numerous buildings and enjoyed helping in Mrs. Blum’s house as well as working in the Renner School House where I could show children what school was like back in the 1800s to 1900s. It’s always a great experience when I come out here.”

“What’s wonderful about the Junior Historian program is that it gives these kids the opportunity to really experience history and not just learn about history,” said Melissa Prycer, Director of Education, Dallas Heritage Village. “Because of their hard work, visitors will actually see what it was like to go to the doctor at the turn of the century. We are indeed very proud of them and this amazing exhibit. It has been such fun to watch their work from start to finish. A tribute to each participant hangs by the front door!”

For more information about becoming a Junior Historian, contact Melissa Prycer at 214-413-3671 or mprycer@dallasheritagevillage.org. New historians typically join in the spring and attend a one-week training camp during the month of June. Applications open in February, with a deadline in mid-May and training in early June. The Junior Historian program helps participants develop leadership skills, give back to the community and meet new people of all ages. For more information, visit www.DallasHeritageVillage.org.

Dallas Heritage Village, located at Old City Park, is a nationally accredited history museum, depicting life in Dallas from 1840-1910. The grounds showcase 38 historic structures, including log cabins, the pre-Civil War Millermore home, a Victorian Main Street, a railroad complex, an 1860 farmstead with livestock, a 19th century church, school and more. Visitors discover how crops were grown, animals cared for and how family living progressed from log cabins to grand manors and Victorian homes. Dallas Heritage Village is supported, in part, by the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, and the Texas Commission on the Arts, as well as individual and group donations. Dallas Heritage Village is located at 1515 South Harwood, one block south of Farmers Market in Downtown Dallas. Hours of operation are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday, noon – 4 p.m. The Village is closed the months of January and August. Regular admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors 65+ and $4 for children ages 4-12. Children under 4 and members of Dallas Heritage Village are admitted free of charge. For more information call 214-421-5141 or visit www.DallasHeritageVillage.org.

 


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