Holiday tours of the Oatlands Historic House and Gardens will begin next Monday through Dec. 30. This year’s event will focus on children at the mansion, with a number of toys and dolls from different eras on display.
Lori Kimball, director of programming and education, said that a theme is usually chosen a year ahead of time and children are a big part of Oatlands’ history.
George and Elizabeth Carter had two boys, George II and Benjamin, who grew up on the property, she said. George II eventually took over the inheritance and raised a family with his wife, Kate.
William and Edith Eustis, owners from 1903 to 1964, had five children who spent weekends and summers at Oatlands, Kimball added. Numerous enslaved were also born and brought up there.
"We have lots of vintage toys, ornaments, books and other items that will interest both children and adults alike," Kimball said. "We are not interpreting a specific period, such as the Eustis time period only. Rather we are interpreting the broad range of time when people lived here (1798 to 1964) before the property was donated to the National Trust for Historic Preservation."
The mansion will also be decorated with historic and handcrafted decorations, some featuring materials from the gardens, as well as an abundance of greenery and decorated Christmas trees.
Visitors can expect to see beautiful decorations and hear about Christmas customs of the Carter children in the late 1800s, Kimball said.
During this annual holiday celebration, guests will be able to enjoy a number of special events including an art show, theater, candlelight tours, centerpiece making workshops and a gingerbread house contest.
Candlelight tours will be held on Dec. 16, 21, 22, 23, and 26, where guests can enjoy cider and cookies in the Carriage House and background music in the drawing room of the mansion.
A variety of holiday gifts will also be available for purchase at the Carriage House Shop.
Tours will be held on the half-hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and Saturday and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Tours are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $8 for children 6 to 16.
Visit www.oatlands.org to view a full schedule of events.