Gift shop developed by a volunteer helps keep Paca House open Rose Marie Siriano: 'I like historic places' ANNE ARUNDEL SENIORS

November 03, 1993|By Amy P. Ingram | Amy P. Ingram,Contributing Writer

It was only two years ago that the rooms William Paca used as law offices during Colonial days stood empty in the 200-year-old restored mansion where he once lived on Prince George Street in Annapolis.

But that was before Rose Marie Siriano came along and turned it into a gift shop filled with replicas of antiques, wooden hoops and tops, collector sets and jewelry worth thousands of dollars.

Now, it brings in most of the revenue needed to keep open the house of the former governor, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

"I like historic places, especially old houses," said Mrs. Siriano, 65. "I didn't know anything about the area I lived in until I began working here."

The Paca House project was the Annapolis resident's second effort.

Three years ago, she helped develop a gift shop at the historic Shiplap House on Pinkney Street.

Since then, Mrs. Siriano's fascination with history and the display of Colonial artifacts has increased and her love for the work is evident, said Trudi Barris, a Paca shop volunteer.

"She's great to work with," Ms. Barris said.

"She's been here three days a week for years dusting, displaying and meeting people as they come in. That's dedication!"

Mrs. Siriano, who has worked about 25 hours a week for the last two years as a volunteer at the shop, encourages the addition of new items to the shop, helps create displays and keeps everything running.

She's even arranged the shop to make it more attractive to children.

The hoops, tops and nesting spheres are kept in the open where curious youngsters can get to them easily.

And Mrs. Siriano is only too happy to demonstrate the objects.

While the toys are easily accessible, the walls of the shop are lined with books by local authors, such as Arthur Pierce Middleton, and paintings and postcards created by local artists, such as Anne Bell Robb.

"This shop is not just for those interested in replicas of Colonial times, it's for collectors, artists and even builders interested in renovating homes," said Mrs. Siriano.

She said her favorite object is their best seller -- the Prince Edward Tippling Stick. The cane, used more than 100 years ago, has two secret compartments, one for a compass and one for a vial of liquor.

Mrs. Siriano, who has won two awards including Volunteer of the Year last spring for her work at the museum shop, said that volunteering has always been a part of her life.

"Ever since I was a teen-ager, I was always offering my help somewhere," she said. "I just love to meet new people and learn. Here at Paca, I've met at least 100 people a day from all over the world. It's a lot of fun."

Mrs. Siriano says she will continue to work at the shop as long as she can.

"I learn something new each day," she says.

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