If you can find a dry day this March, take a walk down Calder Avenue near Seventh Street and you’ll inevitably come to the elegant Chambers House Museum at 2240 Calder Ave.
The tall, white pillars, large windows and high ceilings have stood the test of time, a testament to the early craftsmanship of some of Beaumont’s early homes.
If you haven’t seen the home or the grounds on which it stands, the perfect opportunity is coming at the end of this month, and the event will not disappoint.
The second annual Moonlight Masquerade Ball will be held at Chambers House on March 29 starting at 6:30 p.m. and will have patrons dancing in the moonlight until midnight.
The event is one of the most important fundraisers for the Beaumont Heritage Society, whose mission is to help preserve Beaumont’s most important historical buildings and educate Southeast Texans about their heritage.
“Last year, we did the theme of the 1920s, so this year, we’re doing the 1920s and 1930s,” said the Beaumont Heritage Society’s executive director, Darlene Chodzinski. “The reason we do that is the Chambers House Museum; we interpret the period of 1920 to 1945, and since we are a history organization, we tie in that historical period. Masquerade balls were very, very popular during that time period. That’s why we decided to add a little bit of flare to it and have it as a masquerade ball.”
Ticket prices are $100 for members and $125 for non-members, but each ticket comes with a great value, including complimentary valet parking, a full-course meal, open bar and dancing under the stars to The Night and Day Orchestra. Non-members who purchase tickets will be automatically added to the member rolls for 2014, Chodzinski said, adding patrons should bring their black-tie attire and favorite masks to start the night off right.
“Generally, the masks are taken off right after the cocktail hour, but it’s really fun when everybody comes in wearing masks,” she said.
If you come to this classy event, be sure to come hungry.
“After hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, we’ll have a salad. The entrée is beef tenderloin with green beans, and desert will be strawberry crepes,” Chodzinski said. “We actually had the tasting last Tuesday and it is delicious — totally wonderful. Then after dinner, the waiters and waitresses will walk around with port and brandy as an after-dinner drink.”
But the party won’t stop once dinner is over.
“At that point the band kicks in — the Night and Day Orchestra, really impressive, a full orchestra,” said Beaumont Heritage Society’s vice president, Mark Phelan.
Attendees in the mood to dance can do just that to tunes that swung partygoers during prohibition and still do today.
“They have a male and female singer. They play a lot of 1920s and 1930s jazz, foxtrot. We had someone last year that kind of taught everyone the dance moves of the time period,” Phelan said. “After that they’ll go into the classics, like tango, big band. I’m sure they’ll do some Frank Sinatra at some point.”
Proceeds from the sale of tickets go to the Beaumont Heritage Society’s mission of continued support for the aging homes and historical buildings that still dot Beaumont’s cityscape. The society has some big plans for the future, and Chodzinski said it’s important that young people become involved in this, the society’s most important fundraiser of the year.
“Right now what we’re trying to save is the Terrell Park Recreational buIlding,” Chodzinski said.
The building was one of the first gathering points for the early Beaumont community and was built during President Roosevelt’s New Deal by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935. Chodzinski and others are working closely with the city to help preserve the building, whose roof has partially collapsed after Hurricanes Rita and Ike.
“That is just so significant. Only the roof is falling in,” Chodzinski said. “Except for the roof, it’s solid as a rock.”
Phelan said he too is excited about the prospects of restoring the building, saying without funds from this year’s Masquerade Ball and other fundraisers, the society isn’t sure what place they’ll have in helping to preserve the aging structure.
“There’s a lot of history behind it and we’re exploring the options of getting involved,” Phelan said. “We don’t know to what degree, whether it’s going to be our baby or we’re just going to be involved in some sense. But there’s a lot of work that needs to be done there.”
In the meantime, Chodzinski said it’s important for Beaumonters to come see the Chambers House Museum, as it will be closed during the Moonlight Masquerade Ball.
The Chambers House was built in 1906. In 1914, C. Homer and Edith Fuller Chambers purchased the house and moved in with their two daughters, Ruth and Florence. After Florence’s death in May 2004, the Beaumont Heritage Society got the first glimpse of the interior of the house. It was a treasure trove of furniture, personal items and artifacts that had survived nearly 100 years. Although it has been referred to as a restoration, it really is a conservation project since nothing had been changed in nearly 100 years. Entering the house is truly like stepping back in time
“Everything that was in the house — and of course is in there now — dates back to the late 1800s and the early 1900s,” Chodzinki said. “Truly a time capsule.