Places to Explore

Holiday Historic-Home Tours Are Back!

After a pandemic-year break, three of Maine’s most impressive historic homes reopen their doors for holiday tours.

the Victoria Mansion decked out in holiday decor

ABOVE Last year, holiday decorations at the Victoria Mansion were limited to the exterior. This year, with some pandemic precautions, holiday tours and events are back.

the Victoria Mansion decked out in holiday decor

ABOVE Last year, holiday decorations at the Victoria Mansion were limited to the exterior. This year, with some pandemic precautions, holiday tours and events are back.

the Victoria Mansion
the Victoria Mansion decked out in holiday decor

Photographs courtesy of Victoria Mansion

Victoria Mansion

PORTLAND

“It’s kind of wild for a few weeks in early November,” Victoria Mansion acting director Timothy Brosnihan says. “That’s when the house gets transformed.” No other historic property goes as all-out for the holidays as Portland’s extravagant National Historic Landmark. A volunteer crew that includes some of the state’s best florists, interior designers, and artists decks the halls of the pre–Civil War brownstone Italianate villa. The mansion retains more than 90 percent of the objects that filled the house when it was completed in 1860, and during the holidays, these are augmented with forests of lavishly decorated trees and wreaths, garlands lining gilded cornices in the newly restored parlor, strings of ornaments and lights draped across the six hand-carved marble fireplaces, and more. Self-guided tours Nov. 26–Jan. 9, Tues.–Sun., 10 A.M.–3:30 P.M. Advance timed tickets and masks required. $16 (discounts for seniors, students, and more). 109 Danforth St. 207-772-4841. 

Photographs courtesy of Victoria Mansion

Victoria Mansion

PORTLAND

“It’s kind of wild for a few weeks in early November,” Victoria Mansion acting director Timothy Brosnihan says. “That’s when the house gets transformed.” No other historic property goes as all-out for the holidays as Portland’s extravagant National Historic Landmark. A volunteer crew that includes some of the state’s best florists, interior designers, and artists decks the halls of the pre–Civil War brownstone Italianate villa. The mansion retains more than 90 percent of the objects that filled the house when it was completed in 1860, and during the holidays, these are augmented with forests of lavishly decorated trees and wreaths, garlands lining gilded cornices in the newly restored parlor, strings of ornaments and lights draped across the six hand-carved marble fireplaces, and more. Self-guided tours Nov. 26–Jan. 9, Tues.–Sun., 10 A.M.–3:30 P.M. Advance timed tickets and masks required. $16 (discounts for seniors, students, and more). 109 Danforth St. 207-772-4841. 

Advertisement

White Columns

KENNEBUNKPORT

White Columns in Kennebunkport
Photograph courtesy of the Kennebunkport Historical Society

Merchant and shipyard owner Eliphalet Perkins built this majestic Greek Revival home in 1853, and the Kennebunkport Historical Society has maintained much of the décor that he and his descendants filled the place with, from hand-painted original wallpaper to various 19th-century fixtures and furnishings. For the town’s Christmas Prelude celebration, volunteers decorate each room with trees and other trimmings according to a theme; this year’s belatedly observes Maine’s bicentennial, so expect lighthouses, lobsters, and other totemic Maine symbols. “Our docents tell the stories of the Perkins-Nott family, but it’s more about having fun than about showing a Victorian New England Christmas,” KHS executive director Kristin Lewis Haight says. The fun includes a ticketed champagne gala on December 2 and storytime visits from Mrs. Claus on December 4 and 11. Guided tours Dec. 3–11, 10 A.M.–4 P.M., 30–40 minutes, $12 (discounts for students, veterans, and more). 8 Main St. 207-967- 2751. 

Advertisement

Knox Museum

THOMASTON

Montpelier at the Knox Museum
Photograph courtesy of the Knox Museum

Founding Father Henry Knox built his grand estate, Montpelier, in 1794; today’s Knox Museum is an impressively authentic re-creation, though the museum doesn’t try to re-create a colonial Christmas, since the holiday was little celebrated in early America. “We don’t do the whole Williamsburg thing,” museum board chair Anne Perkins says. “It’s more like, if Henry and Lucy Knox were alive today, how would they decorate it?” Volunteers, local garden clubs, and other community groups put up trees, flower displays, and ornaments throughout the manor, and bell ringers, harp players, and other musicians set the mood. Get an early look during a ticketed gala on December 4. In the evenings, the three-story manor’s stately facade is fringed with holiday lights for drive-by admirers, with electric candles in the tall windows. Self-guided tours Dec. 5 & 11–12, 1–4 P.M. Free with food-pantry donation. Lights Over Montpelier Dec. 3–Jan. 9. 30 High St. 207-354-8062. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *