BARNESVILLE — Each year for the holiday season, the Belmont County Victorian Mansion Museum invites the public to tour the facility and experience the “Magic of Christmas.”
The tours are set to begin Nov. 27 and run through Jan. 9.
For more than 30 years, the Belmont County Historical Society has put on the tours for the holiday season. Last year was the exception, when they were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Historical society President Emery Stewart said the group was unable to open the museum at all last year.
“We’re back now and looking forward to a new, healthy and prosperous year,” he said.
The “Magic of Christmas Tours” welcome attendees to take a glance back in time and view traditional holiday decorations that would have been seen in the late 1800s. Stewart said the tour is for anyone interested in history and exploring old holiday traditions.
“People can step back 125 years and see Christmas on a maybe less commercialized basis than we have today. Christmas was celebrated with one or two gifts back then, stockings were always filled and Father Christmas always came on Christmas Eve. It’s different from what we have today,” he said. “It gives them a chance to see what it was like 125 years ago at an upper class Victorian mansion. … It’s a chance for people to experience their grandparents’ holiday experience.”
Things will be slightly different this year — only the main level of the museum will be decked out in traditional holiday decorations as opposed to all three floors. Stewart said this was done to limit exposure to COVID-19.
“It will still be decorated in the spectacular manner it’s been done before, it just won’t be the whole three floors because of COVID,” he said. “The first floor includes the parlors, dining room, inglenook, entry area, kitchen and the growlery, which was the men’s (recreation) room.”
Although only the first floor will be decorated, Stewart said attendees are welcome to tour all 26 rooms of the museum. Decorations can make the smaller rooms on upper levels more cramped.
The tours will begin from 1-4 p.m. Nov. 27 at the museum, located at 532 N. Chestnut St., Barnesville. Tours are open from 5-8 p.m. Fridays, 1-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday through Dec. 19. Tours will be by appointment only from Dec. 21 to Jan. 9. Those interested in scheduling an appointment can call 740-425-1457, 740-425-2228, or 740-695-0766. There is a small fee for the tour, or attendees are welcome to make a donation.
Also, Victorian Teas are set for 11:30 a.m. Dec. 3-4. The events are catered by Donna Clark. Stewart said organizers had to cut back to only two tea dates this year due to COVID-19.
“We don’t want to have to cut back but for the public’s interest, and COVID is not much further than it was a year ago. It’s not that we want to discourage people from coming out — we do want them to come, we just want them to be safe and celebrate a Christmas we weren’t able to celebrate last year,” he added.
For the past 10 years, Stewart said, he has baked hundreds of sugar plums for the tours and the tea dates. Sugar plums are a classic Victorian treat, he said.
Deadline for reservations for the tea dates is Dec. 1. Stewart recommends that interested parties call and reserve spots, and he said they tend to fill up fast.
Masks are required to enter the museum and will be available at the door.