By LAURA MCFARLAND
The Winchester Star
The 19th century manor house is harkening back to 1850 for inspiration for its holiday decorations, tours, activities, and even food, said Nicholas Redding, executive director.
“I am hoping people learn something about how our Civil War ancestors experienced Christmas, what things remained the same, and what changed,” he said.
The open house will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the manor house, 830 Long Branch Lane, Millwood. Admission is $5 for adults and free for 10 and under.
There will also be an 1850s Christmas Night from 5:45 to 8 p.m. Sunday following a Lessons and Carols Candlelight service at nearby Old Bethel Church. Admission to the reception is free and open to the public.
Staff and five local garden clubs worked to get the house ready this week, decorating using natural elements that might have been seen in the house during the mid-19th century, said Cassie Ward, director of public programs at Long Branch.
The Greenway, Old Fredericktown, South River, and Winchester-Clarke garden clubs and the Little Garden Club of Winchester were responsible for decorating mantels in four rooms in the house as well as the south porch, she said.
“Everybody is following the 1850s theme, so it will be a lot of greenery and fruit,” she said.
The staff focused on the main hall, where the banisters of the three-story staircase and columns have been wrapped in white pine roping and the door and window casework has been adorned in cedar, spruce and magnolia branches, she said. They also decorated the upstairs hallways and master bedroom.
The main hall also features a small tabletop tree decorated in popcorn garland, candles, and paper cones with candy and nuts, Redding said. “In the 1850s, it was very uncommon to see a tree of the size most Americans use now. Most were tabletop trees.”
Many Christmas traditions celebrated today weren’t adopted until the early and mid-1800s, Ward said. “Since Long Branch is becoming so focused on its history now, this 1850s theme is more in line with our mission and new strategic plan.”
To help people understand those changes and how they relate to Long Branch and its history, Redding will give “Christmas on a Plantation,” an indoor and outdoor tour, at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, he said.
“Any time we go deeper into our story, visitors appreciate that. We are going to be doing a lot more of that,” he said.
Both days, there will also be a tin punch activity in the master bedroom upstairs so people can make an ornament to take home using a tradition from the time period, she said.
The weekend ends with the Christmas Night reception, which follows the Old Bethel Church service. The evening will feature old time string band music from the group Tuckered and Plum, warm drinks, and appetizers inspired by recipes from and 1847 cookbook, Ward said.
Long Branch Plantation, 830 Long Branch Lane, Millwood, will have a Christmas Open House from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. There will be tours and activities. Admission is $5 for adults and free for 10 and under.
An 1850s Christmas Night will be held from 5:45 to 8 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free and open to the public.
For more information, contact 540-837-1856 or go to visitlongbranch.org.
— Contact Laura McFarland at
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