Downton Abbey event features night of pageantry
‘Downton Abbey’-inspired evening offers a chance to practice genteel British manners and support the library foundation
By Karen Kennedy
As the PBS television series “Downton Abbey” enters its fourth season, more and more Yankees are becoming obsessed with the show.
You may or may not be in that group, but unwittingly mispronouncing it as “downtown” abbey at a cocktail party might elicit shouted, outraged corrections.
The genteel British lifestyle and opulent castle featured in the show have inspired paint and fabric collections and even a new hybrid rose.
And so it should come as no surprise that “A Downton Abbey-Inspired Evening” at the Palladium on Jan. 29 is nearly sold out.
The Carmel Clay Library Foundation will present “A Downton Abbey-Inspired Evening” in conjunction with its 100-year anniversary celebration, and all proceeds from the event will go directly to the foundation.
The event features a multimedia presentation by speaker Jessica Fellowes, a best-selling author and niece of the show’s creator, Lord Julian Fellowes, who has written “The World of Downton Abbey.”
It features insights into the storylines and characters, on-set photos of the cast and, most interestingly, the socio-historical context of how the mores and interpersonal relationships of time correlate to our society today.
“Fellowes is delightful,” said event chair Megan Gregor. “She is vivacious, witty and oh-so British.”
The evening is presented by the Gregor Jacobs Group and will feature actors in period costumes (both “upstairs” and “downstairs” characters) interacting with the guests.
According to Gregor, attendees are encouraged to wear period clothing or may choose to try on costumes available that night for photo opportunities. Period-inspired food, prepared by Sullivan’s Steakhouse, will be served at the VIP reception.
This theme’s selection for the anniversary celebration is no accident, Gregor said, as the show’s time period parallels the era when the library first came into being. And although the lifestyles of Carmel’s residents at that time (not too many years after the town’s name was changed from Bethlehem) might not have been quite so luxurious, the moral and social issues they faced were much the same.
Carmel’s first library began as a library club called the Wednesday Literary Club, which loaned out books from a room in the telephone company building on Main Street. The first librarian was Mabel Wells.
In 1911 the library received a grant from the Carnegie Corporation for a building, which was located at 40 E. Main St. and dedicated in June 1914.
The collection of books at the time totaled just under 6,000.
Over the years, the library grew several more times. In 1972, a new facility opened at 515 E. Main St., and a group of volunteers called “The Book Brigade” moved the collection of books, now at more than 21,000, from the original Carnegie building.
By 1980 the library had outgrown its confines again, as the collection had increased to nearly 52,000 books and 1,600 recordings. In 1986 an expansion was completed which doubled the size to 34,000 square feet. At that time, the name was officially changed to the Carmel Clay Public Library.
Over the ensuing years, the library continued to expand, and had soon outgrown even its expanded facility. In 1996 planning began on the site where the library now resides, a 116,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art building at 55 Fourth Avenue S.W., with shelving space for 300,000 books (a whopping 51 times the number of books in the original library) as well as 46,000 audio-visual items and 665 periodicals.
The Carmel Clay Public Library Foundation works to raise funds for the special programming offered in the library, which the library’s $6.3 million annual budget doesn’t cover, such as tutoring, literacy programs, movie nights, children’s services and seminars.
The foundation has set a capital campaign goal for 2014 of $200,000, and Carmel residents Jim and Joyce Winner have pledged to match initial contributions up to $100,000. Anyone interested in donating to the library foundation should contact Director Ruth Nisenshal at 814-3905.
The 100th anniversary celebration
“A Downton Abbey Evening” is the first in a series of celebrations of the 100th anniversary that will culminate in a grand finale celebration at Woody’s Library Restaurant in June. Upcoming events will be posted on the library’s Website, www.carmel.lib.in.us.
A Downton Abbey Evening ● 5:30 p.m. Jan. 29 ● The Palladium in Carmel ● Tickets start at $25 ● For more information call 843-3800 or visit www.thecenterpresents.org.