The magic of Christmas comes alive this season at Robbins Hunter Museum in ways more lavish and welcoming than ever before. Stand on the nighttime sidewalk and gaze up at the massive pillars of this impressive tour de force facing Broadway, illuminated for the first time ever with thousands of tiny lights. Then step inside into Christmas.
The house lights up for the holiday on the eve of Saturday, Dec. 5, during the Candlelight Walking Tour, and remains open through December 19.
Six trees representing different periods of time stand ready inside. Jean Jankowski, program co-chair, admits this is her favorite volunteer experience of the year. “A group of us come together sharing the gifts of our individual talents to interpret Christmas during the period the house was occupied,” she said.
“The Civil War Commemorative Tree, which was so beautifully researched by the Licking County Genealogical Society and the Granville Historical Society, was especially moving for me,” she said. “The stories of the 53 Granville men and boys who gave their lives to a cause they believed in so deeply, along with the hardships brought to the families they left behind, meant a lot to me.”
But perhaps the most anticipated tree for the period of the house museum is the 1870’s tree, decorated as it might have been during the years the house was a private residence.
Each of the ornaments made from period patterns or descriptive accounts is documented for its authenticity. “This tree isn’t an exact example of what the tree in this house would have looked like in 1870, but it is a complete exhibit of handmade ornaments and gifts of that period. The electric candles we use are meant to give the viewer a magical sense of what it must have been like when the parlor doors were opened on Christmas morning.”
Much of the historic documentation for the 1870’s tree and others in the house is done by Jankowski’s co-chair, Rebecca Dungan. Her own personal collection, for example, decorates the 1950’s tree in the octagon room. “An endlessly tall tree in an endlessly tall room sparkles jewel-like when the colored Christmas lights in the ceiling are reflected by the old fashioned lead icicle on the tree,” she says.
“This glorious tree represents the end of war and scarcity and the beginning of a new way of celebrating Christmas. Shiny Brite ornaments, the first mass produced American-made ornament in our history, hang from the tree.”
Throughout the wonderful old house, halls, mantles, trees and all the nooks and crannies will sparkle with the artifacts of Christmas, past and present.
“Our goal is to be a destination during the Candlelight Walking Tour, but more than that, we want people to come back and spend time exploring Christmas through the trees and decorations in the house,” Rebecca says.
“To take it all in, one must really come into the museum for a special tour, conducted by one of our knowledgeable docents. The hours are 1:00 to 4:00 Wednesday through Saturday until December 19,” Jean concludes.