The Victorian House Museum’s Holidays at the Mansion
by Denice Rovira Hazlett
There’s nothing like an elaborately decorated foyer, a finely festooned grand staircase, or a beautifully appointed holiday table to jump-start the Christmas spirit, and an afternoon trip to the Victorian House Museum in Millersburg during Holidays at the Mansion is just the ticket to inspire the decking of those halls and the hanging of that mistletoe.
The Victorian House Museum, located just minutes north of shopping, dining and lodging in Historic Downtown Millersburg, is a stately 28-room Queen Anne style home built in 1902 by industrialist L.H. Brightman. One step inside, especially during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and it’s no surprise that the expansive house, with its gorgeous white oak staircase and authentic antique decor, has been featured in Victorian Homes Magazine and the HGTV show Victorian America.
During two weeks in November, busy little elves from organizations and businesses in Holmes County transform the Victorian House into three delightfully decorated period-style floors for guests to enjoy. Each year, more than two dozen rooms, which are already filled with the collections of the historical society year-round, are decorated according to treasured tradition, with a few fresh themes and new favorites added. From Mrs. Brightman’s elegant suite and morning room to the beautifully decorated tea table prepared with settings for the home’s former female inhabitants, Lena, Lessie and Lucy Lee and Mrs. Mary Brightman herself, the community’s volunteers exercise their creativity to gussy up every corner and trim each holiday tree throughout the home.
And then, on Saturday, Nov. 17, the huge front doors will swing open to welcome guests, free of charge for that evening only, for the grand open house. The evening will include the traditional outdoor lighting ceremony, tours of the mansion, refreshments, and a variety of tea tastings including the Victorian House’s exclusive tea blended especially for the mansion by Vickie Boley of World Cup Teas and available for purchase in the gift shop.
And as of April 2012, there’s even more to see during a visit to the Victorian House Museum, thanks to the spring purchase of the former Castle Nursing Homes property adjacent to the Victorian House and the recent establishment of the Holmes County Cultural Center Complex (CCC). The two-building complex is also home to the Holmes County Genealogical Society and the new location of the Millersburg Glass Museum. The CCC will have a few goodies to offer just in time for the holiday season as well.
The big change this year, according to Mark Boley, executive director of the Holmes County Historical Society, will be the addition of the new 50-seat dinner, luncheon, and tea venue, housed on the main floor of the CCC in the former home of Lessie Lee, whose sister once lived in the stately Victorian House. The venue will offer a variety of gatherings for bus tours, providing everything from simply elegant tea and scones to deliciously upscale meals prepared by an expert team of local caterers. While the venue is currently available only to bus tour groups, Boley said there might be plans down the road to make it available for other gatherings as well.
Following the Nov. 17 grand opening, Holidays at the Mansion will continue to be open for self-guided tours Monday through Thursday, from 1-4 p.m., and Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 1-8 p.m., through Dec. 31. The Victorian House is closed on both Thanksgiving and Christmas. For more information, visit victorianhouse.org or call 330-674-0022.