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Webster House hosts its first wedding

--- 170 years and never a wedding--until this week

Doris Reinke /Contributor

(Published Nov. 5, 2007, 1:24 p.m.)

They wanted a simple but memorable wedding.

They wanted it to be in Elkhorn where the bride's parents lived.

They searched the Internet for a historic place and Webster House appeared and fit the bill completely--Elkhorn, historic and memorable.

Was it available?

Yes. And so on Oct. 31 a beautiful ceremony took place in the front parlor of the house where Joseph Philbrick Webster lived and wrote music 150 years ago. Coincidentally, Webster House Museum had just celebrated its 50th anniversary as a museum.

Brenda Bednarski and Robert Peryea, both of Green Bay, were the bride and groom. Witnesses were Eugene Bednarski, father of the bride, and Amy Boyd. Jean Bednarski, the bride's mother, was also in attendance. An antique lamp gleamed overhead as the bride in a white gown, carrying a bouquet of red roses, and the groom, in Coast Guard uniform, exchanged vows.

Kristine Drettman, judicial court commissioner of Walworth County, officiated at the pretty ceremony at the museum. Friends, who would have been part of the celebration where it was planned for New Orleans, were present via a laptop video presentation, a surprise for the bride and groom.

When plans for the New Orleans wedding had to be changed, Peryea, petty officer, First Class, United States Coast Guard Reserve, contacted the Walworth County Historical Society to learn whether a marriage could be solemnized at the Webster House Museum. As pictured on the Internet, under historic sites, it looked ideal. This was a first for the society, which has hosted parties, meetings, dinners and tours for many years. The idea of a wedding was a new one and approval was granted.

It is believed that this was the first wedding ever to take place in the 170-year-old house. Joseph Philbrick Webster, the 19th century composer, purchased the house in 1857 from LeGrand Rockwell. From that time, the Websters were the only family who lived in it. So far as it is known, no Webster marriage was celebrated there. The composer was already married when he decided to make Elkhorn his home. Four children grew up there, but only one of them ever married. Frederick wed Mary Bird in 1918, but she lived in the East and that was the place of their wedding.

Needless to say, the strains of Webster's most popular ballad, "Lorena," played softly in the background during the ceremony.



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