It might not be exactly what you’re thinking it will be. In fact, it’s probably better. Take time to tour Virginia’s historic homes this season and you’ll walk into various centuries of decor and celebration.
Renowned Historic Homes
Endview Plantation, c. 1769, will be decorated for the 1861 holidays this month. Learn about this home’s Civil War history when you tour daily between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Newport News. $6 per adult; $4 per child aged 7-18.
Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg dates from 1798 with construction of the Federal-style mansion following establishment in 1804. Experience Christmas at Oatlands all month long with grand decorations, but don’t miss the special candlelight tours available from 5 to 7 p.m. December 16, 21-23 and 26. $12 per adult; $8 per child aged 6-16.
The finest Federal home on the Eastern Shore is Ker Place in Onancock, built between 1799 and 1803. Ker Place is now the home of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society, but its previous occupiers consisted of only two families (1801-1960). Join in for a Holiday Open House this Saturday, December 8 from 2 to 6 p.m. and enjoy entertainment, games, homemade sweets, carols and a visit with Santa Claus. Free.
An 1893 Victorian Christmas awaits you this Sunday, December 8. Make time for an Old-Fashioned Christmas at Maymont (noon to 5 p.m.) where the formal rooms are decorated in grand style with ladies and gentlemen to welcome you. Horse-drawn carriage rides, food, drink, music and even St. Nick make this one merry occasion in Richmond. $5 per adult; $3 per child up to age 12. Carriage rides additional $5 and $3, respectively.
A variety of eras are represented at Agecroft Hall in Richmond this Sunday from 12:30 to 5 p.m. Move from 1640s England to 1850s London and of course, 1940s Richmond as you encounter interpreters like Charles Dickens reading his A Christmas Carol. $8 per adult; $5 per child 6-18.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon will be open for candlelight tours this weekend and next, December 8-9, 15-16 from 5 until 8:30 p.m. Mount Vernon has a storied history. The mansion actually began as a modest farmhouse in the 1740’s and was twice re-built and expanded from the foundation up. Today’s Mount Vernon reflects its 1799 appearance. Candlelight tours include fireside caroling with hot cider and ginger cookies, as well as a walk through the first and second floors of the authentically decorated mansion. $20 per adult; $14 per child
Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello dates to 1769 (when construction began) and is open for an intimate evening tour and reception to show you how that presidential family celebrated the season. Enjoy period culinary delights and take home a recipe, too, after you tour the home and the rarely-seen dome room. December 14 and 16 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. $75 per person. Monticello is the only home in the United States recognized by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site.
James Monroe’s home, Ash Lawn-Highland, is decorated all month long with fresh boxwood, fruits and holly to bring a special holiday emphasis to the early 19th century dwelling of the fifth President of the United States. The home Monroe called his “cabin castle” became his primary residence in 1799 though the home conveyed with his land purchase in 1793. Visit daily (closed Christmas Day) between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. $12 per adult; $6 per child aged 6 to 11.
Did you know Monticello wasn’t Thomas Jefferson’s only home? Visit his retreat, Poplar Forest (built between 1806 and 1821) for a free tour this Sunday between noon and 4 p.m. Bring a non-perishable food donation and enjoy period decorations, music and living history interpretations, children’s activities and fun storytelling.
The Father of the Constitution and fourth President of the United States, James Madison, grew up in and made his adult home Montpelier. His father, James Madison, Sr., completed the original portion of today’s mansion in 1764. In 1797 the second portion of the mansion was began by the younger Madison – an “townhouse” style addition to the abode his father still resided in. Upon his father’s death in 1801, Madison inherited the other half and worked to unify the structure. Tour Montpelier by candlelight this weekend, December 7-9, from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Be greeted by Dolley Madison for a tour and enjoy carolers on the front lawn. Period-dressed waltzers will delight guests in the Salon while refreshments and wine await you in the duPont Gallery. $30 at the door
Tour Several Historic Homes at One Price
Homes dating from 1796 to 1888 are on tour in Fincastle this Saturday between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Additionally, a marketplace of 30 local and regional artists can alleviate some of your shopping stress. $15 per person.
Mark your calendars with more Holiday Home Tours.
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