Gather Haus Winesburg takes you back in history

Gather Haus Winesburg takes you back in history

Image Credit: Chris Snow

When you walk into Gather Haus Winesburg, you instantly feel like you’ve gone back to a simpler time in history.

And that’s exactly what owner Gail Crites wants you to experience.

“When someone comes here, they’re not just experiencing what our services are, but they’re experiencing a little step back in time,” Crites said. “That’s our mission here. And that’s why people come to Amish Country because they like to enjoy the old-time values and the self-governing part of this area, where your handshake and your word are your bond.

“That’s what we emulate here, and that’s what we want them to experience.”

Crites opened Gather Haus, located in the old Antique Mall building on Main Street in Winesburg, in March. She rents the property through the Winesburg Historical Society.

Before the building was an Antique Mall, it was a general store owned by Dan and Fortuna Kinsley. Dan Kinsley was a successful entrepreneur who originally built the building and its adjacent property, where he, Fortuna and his three children lived in the late 1800s. When Fortuna died in the 1960s, the building became an antique mall a few years later.

“They contributed a lot to the area,” Crites said of the Kinsleys.

When you walk in the front door of the Gather Haus, various items for sale line the walls and shelves on both sides of the gift shop. Each item is owned by a local vendor, who is either an artist or a collector.

“We just like to have unique things in the gift shop,” Crites said.

As you walk further into the shop, you enter the online shopping cafe. Several computers and antique desks are on each side of the walkway, with teacups lining one wall and books for sale on the other one. It costs $7 per hour to use the computers.

“This space is kind of like a library,” Crites said. “The computers are protected internet, so people in the area can come and shop and print documents and pictures. We wanted to give that service to the local Amish community.”

Next is the Fortuna Kinsley Tea Room. People can rent the room, which seats 30, for their small groups, holiday meetings or holiday gatherings, among other things. Catered meals will be provided for a group if desired.

Victorian dinner parties, which include a Victorian tea service, also are offered. The Victorian parties feature all the things used during the parties in the early 1900s including mixed china and specific foods. The menus are customizable and can include dairy-free or gluten-free foods, depending on what a group wants.

“The tea parties were known for their scones, their cucumber sandwiches and their small, delicate, little pastries,” Crites said, “and especially the cucumber sandwiches on white bread. Because if you had white bread and cucumbers in those days, you were considered to be incredibly wealthy. And that’s the same with mixed china. I have all kinds of different china sets. In those days it was imported from England. If you had different sets of china on your table, you were considered to be incredibly wealthy (during the Victorian era).”

It doesn’t cost a certain amount of money to rent the tea room. All services including catered food are by donation. You must schedule an appointment time to rent the room, though.

Crites will host Victorian dinner parties that are open to the public on Dec. 9, 16, 23 and 30 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Those parties also are by donation, and reservations are taken through Facebook and by phone.

A classic bicycle museum is underneath the tea room and features an assortment of old-school bicycles. A room filled with old agricultural machinery is beside the bicycle museum.

Both rooms are open during store and event hours.

“These are just different agricultural implements from long ago,” Crites said. “People come down to remember their grandma and grandpa’s farm.”

Beginning in January, Crites is going to start offering training in Microsoft Word and Excel. Training in Word will take place each Thursday from 4-8 p.m. Training in Excel will take place each Friday from 8 a.m. to noon. Each session is limited to 10 people.

The Gather Haus is open Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but people can visit on different days if they schedule an appointment with Crites. She can be called at 330-704-3952.

Find the Gather Haus on Facebook at Gather Haus Winesburg.

“My calling from God is to create healing experiences for people that encourage them and (provide them an opportunity to experience) more simple times,” Crites said. “I also like to talk about Dan Kinsley. He and his wife operated in faith and simple values, like this area is known for, and my heart is to preserve the simple values that have put this area on the map.

“We like to tell the stories of people of Winesburg that were honest and hardworking and had integrity. I love to do anything that creates an opportunity to keep the values and principles of God alive in people’s hearts and minds.”