New Candlelight Tours for Celebrating Three Centuries of Christmas at the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum
Each year, the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum’s “Three Centuries of Christmas” tours show in fascinating detail how the American holiday season has evolved over the past 300 years. This year, two evening candlelight tours, with costumed guides, have been added for viewing the three elegantly appointed historic houses that comprise the museum.
Candlelight tours are offered on two Fridays, December 12 and 19, from 5 to 8 p.m. Daylight tours will be on Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays, from 1 to 4 p.m., December 13, 2014 through January 4, 2015.
The enchanting and historic view of holidays past begins in the Silas Deane House, circa 1770, where New Year’s Day was the main holiday – due to the Puritanical customs that still lingered in New England – rather than Christmas. The house reflects the preparations for the Deane’s “New Years’ Day Calling,” when prominent gentlemen in the community would call on the lady of the household. It was also the day when individuals who owed the family money would meet privately with the master of the house to settle their debts or make a New Year’s resolution to provide goods or services to settle their accounts in the coming year.
The Isaac Stevens House is decorated to depict the holiday celebrations of a middle-class household during the early to mid-1800s, when many of the Christmas traditions known today were adopted in New England. The best parlor features a charming table-top tree decorated with candles, gilded eggshells and edible treats, in keeping with the era. The Stevens House also includes a special exhibit with enlarged color illustrations by Thomas Nast from the museum’s rare 1888 copy of Clement Moore’s “An Account of a Visit of St Nicholas.” The colorful images tell the tale of how the secular Christmas known today was created in the early 19th century, which coincides with the museum’s interpretation of Christmas at the Stevens House.
At the Joseph Webb House visitors are dazzled by decorations typical of the early 20th century, a period of stunning decoration and celebration. The home is prepared for a Christmas open house that was typical of the times, including a sumptuous dessert buffet set up in the dining parlor. The culmination of several weeks’ work, the lavishness of the dessert and decorations could make or break the hostess’ reputation. Decorations include three Christmas trees, evergreen roping, fresh greens, fruit, and a collection of period ornaments. Also featured are a fine collection of antique iron toys from the late 19th and early 20th century and a charming Victorian doll house.
The public can also explore the Webb-Deane-Stevens Gift Shop, which offers a bounty of timeless treasures, from elegant household items to jewelry, books, stocking stuffers, hostess and children’s gifts and more. Holiday shopping hours daily, except Tuesdays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., December 1, 2014 through the January 4, 2015.
About the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum
Located in the heart of Connecticut’s largest historic district, the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum provides the quintessential New England experience – from the American Revolution to the early 20th century. Tours include the 1752 Joseph Webb House, where General George Washington met with French General Rochambeau and planned the military campaign leading to the end of the Revolutionary War, the 1770 Silas Deane House, built for America’s first diplomat to France, and the 1788 Isaac Stevens House, which depicts Connecticut life in the 18th and 19th centuries. For more information visit: www.webb-deane-stevens.org or call (860) 529-0612. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/WDSMUSEUM