If you love historic houses and you’re in a holiday kind of mood, see if a historic house museum near you is decorated, vintage-style, for the holidays. You’ll get a feel for Christmases before plastic tinsel and the crazy Target lady.
Run a web search or check the events section in your newspaper for events at museums near you, or tours of private homes. You also can browse the historic house museums in the MuseumsUSA directory. I did a little Web surfing, and my personal jet, if I had one, would fly me to these holiday houses:
- Belle Meade Plantation, Nashville Tenn. A Century of Christmas: 1853-1953, shows how Christmas celebrations here evolved from fresh greens and a simply decorated tree in 1853 to 20th-century electric tree lights and characters.
- Glessner and Clarke House Museums, Chicago. Two museums display different aspects of holiday celebrations. Clarke House exemplifies emerging holiday customs of the 1850s with simple decorations, and more elaborate decor at Glessner House reflects the growing interest in the celebration of Christmas.
- Pabst Mansion, Milwaukee. This beer baron’s mansion features a nationally recognized Christmas display representing America’s Gilded Age.
- Kimball House Museum, Battle Creek, Mich. A lovely Victorian house museum features lavish decorations.
- Aiken-Rhett House, Charleston, SC. This home re-creates the Victorian Age in its holiday decor.
- Mackenzie House, Toronto. This row house belonging to Toronto’s first mayor is decorated in holiday greenery.
- Christmas at Arlington, Birmingham, Ala. Flowers transform this Antebellum home, built by one of Birminghams founders, into replicas of Christmas past.
- A Christmas Story House, Cleveland. So this isn’t exactly pre-outdoor electric lights, but it’s definitely nostalgic for those who remember Ralphie’s quest for an air rifle and Randy’s immobilizing snowsuit. You can tour the house where much of the 1983 movie was filmed and and get your own version of the Old Man’s leg lamp.