Happy Holidays from Locust Grove!

Happy Christmas to you all, dear blog followers! Christmastide may be over, but the spirit of the season still persists at Locust Grove! Just check out Weekend Manager Bob playing carols in his flute this past weekend!

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If you’re interested in 18th century holiday traditions, Colonial Williamsburg has a lovely and extensive article on the topic here that I can only hope to emulate. I was delighted to discover that two of my personal favorites might have been sung by the Croghans during this season.  “Joy to the World” was a popular carol originating in Virginia from the 1760s forward, and “The Holly and the Ivy” was a traditional English carol, reflecting two elements of yuletide decorations.

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Now some Locust Grove winter news. As indicated above,  Locust Grove will be closed for tours  the entire month of January. But never fear! I’ll still be blogging away on various and sundry topics, and I’d love your input! What would you like to read about in January? Leave a comment at the bottom of this page! I’d love to hear from you. Locust Grove will be open for tours on December 26, 27, 29 and 30 from 10-4:30 and December 28 from 1-4:30. Stop by to see us and take advantage of the last of the Christmas sale! We’ll keep a light on for you until we see you again.

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Joyfully yours,

Hannah

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Home for the Holidays with the Croghans: Part 3

Christmastide has come and gone, but hopefully everyone who attended left filled with cheer, gingerbread, and the spirit of the season!

Here are some scenes from the event–my pictures are not nearly as wonderful as Heather’s, but I hope you get the effect just the same!

I was greeted on the walk to the house by William Croghan, Jr. and Dr. John Croghan (of 1816). Isn't the house beautiful all lit up?

I was greeted on the walk to the house by William Croghan, Jr. and Dr. John Croghan (of 1816). Isn’t the house beautiful all lit up?

Edmund Croghan, the youngest child, was setting up a game in the Farm Office.

Edmund Croghan, the youngest child, was setting up a game in the Farm Office.

George Rogers Clark's portrait--painted in the year 1816--looks a little more cheerful all dressed up for the holiday!

George Rogers Clark’s portrait–painted in the year 1816–looks a little more cheerful all dressed up for the holiday!

In fact, the General himself could be found greeting guests in his apartment just across the hall from his portrait.

I didn't overhear their conversation so I like to think GRC was recounting his exploits during the American Revolution!

I didn’t overhear their conversation so I like to think GRC was recounting his exploits during the American Revolution!

Friends Eloise Bullitt and Barbara Cosby could be found on the third floor, playing games with guests and enjoying one another’s company.

All dressed up for the party!

All dressed up for the party!

Charles and Nicholas Croghan were also upstairs, hopefully staying out of mischief! Nicholas informed me that he lost his eye when he was twelve after falling out of a tree, but his older brother, Dr. John, saved it in a glass jar for study!

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In the next room, I found the future version of Dr. John!

Dr. John Croghan (1842) met patients...I mean visitors...in his office. He studied under Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence!

Dr. John Croghan (1842) met patients…I mean visitors…in his office. He studied under Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence!

The ladies of the house seemed to be having quite an enjoyable evening. Gales of laughter could be constantly heard from Mrs. Lucy Croghan’s parlor and when I poked my head in, the ladies, including Mrs. Richard Taylor and Mrs. Emelia Clarke, were discussing the scandalous new novel Frankenstein! Certainly not a topic I would think appropriate when a young lady like Miss Eliza Cosby was present!

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Ann Croghan and Diana Gwathmey Bullitt could be found having more subdued conversation upstairs!

Ann Croghan and Diana Gwathmey Bullitt could be found having more subdued conversation upstairs!

I missed the dancing in the Grand Parlor, but when I arrived, the musicians were preparing for much revelry!

102_4960Out in the kitchen, guests were served gingerbread and cider–YUM!

Hearth cook Melissa discusses 19th century cooking practices with guests.

Hearth cook Melissa discusses 19th century cooking practices with guests

Still life with gingerbread.

Still life with gingerbread.

I know I had a wonderful time celebrating the holidays with the Croghans, and I hope you did too! What was your favorite part of Christmastide? And even though the house may not be filled with family, come by and see us this holiday season! We’ll keep a light burning for you!

Many cheerful wishes,

Hannah

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Home for the Holidays with the Croghans: Part 2

Season’s greetings, everyone! Last week, we got an inside look at the initial process of becoming a Locust Grove costumed interpreter and preparations for Christmastide. Now, the day is upon us–Christmastide is today, December 5 and tomorrow, December 6! More information can be found here, but for now, let’s check in with Brian and the cast to learn more about last-minute preparations!

The cast of Christmastide!

The cast of Christmastide!

According to Brian Cushing, the Locust Grove program coordinator, Christmastide this year “should feel like a party.” Guests will be welcomed through the front door into the year 1816 to find the house all decorated for the holidays, thanks to the hard work of our volunteers. Guests will find whist playing and dancing in the Great Parlor, refreshments in the hearth kitchen, and lively conversation everywhere! In the visitor’s center, Bob Pilkington will captivate audiences with his storytelling, children can make traditional crafts, and everyone can shop for gifts at the book sale or in the museum store. (Remember, everything in the museum store is 20% off through December 7!) Crafting Christmastide has been two years in the making, as Locust Grove went about building a different holiday event than its previous iteration, Candlelight. Focusing on presentation and authenticity, the Locust Grove team used the guiding question “How does a party look 200 years ago and how do you recreate that?” Other museums and events, such as the Dickens Fair in California, provided inspiration for presentation and decoration, but everything else came from the Locust Grove archives and meticulous research by the cast. Brian is most excited about seeing everything come together, and is filled with praise for the Christmastide cast, saying “We have such a proactive talented group of people that I’m looking forward to seeing people become their characters. This takes a special kind of dedication and these people have that.” And what a cast! Twenty-two individuals will be sharing their talent and historical knowledge this year.

The Locust Grove household Front row: Emilia Clarke, Eliza Croghan, Gen. George Rogers Clark, Ann Croghan. Back row: Edmund Croghan, William Croghan, Jr., Dr. John Croghan (1842), Dr. John Croghan (1816), Lucy Clark Croghan, Charles Croghan, Nicholas Croghan.

The Locust Grove household
Front row: Emilia Clarke, Eliza Croghan, Gen. George Rogers Clark, Ann Croghan.
Back row: Edmund Croghan, William Croghan, Jr., Dr. John Croghan (1842), Dr. John Croghan (1816), Lucy Clark Croghan, Charles Croghan, Nicholas Croghan.

But what can visitors expect when greeting members of the Clark, Croghan, Gwathmey, Bullitt, Taylor, and Cosby families? The cast has been put through their paces with what Brian calls “sensory experiences of daily life”–spending time in the house, playing games, eating food in the kitchen, dancing, and getting to know one another not just in the early 19th century but in the 21st century as well. Everyone is portraying a family member of someone else in the cast, so Christmastide is a sort-of family reunion! To that end, Christmastide is meant to be interactive, living history theater. Instead of being scripted, cast members use their knowledge of their character’s life and the context of 19th century life to respond to one another and to modern guests.  Many of the cast members also make their own costumes, which, according to Amy, “involves many hours of dedicated research.” Heather Hiner, a Locust Grove volunteer who provided all of these lovely photos, was instrumental in teaching historical games to cast members, and Melissa did her best to track down spices used by our ancestors, such as currants and blades of mace to give the food she cooks an authentic flavor. In other exciting news, there are two interpreters playing the same person–we have two Dr. John Croghans this year! Brandon Vigliarolo will be Dr. John in 1816, and will be downstairs in the main house, while Keith Stevenson will be upstairs on the third floor in the doctor’s office in his role as Dr. John in 1842.

The two Dr. Johns. The resemblance is uncanny.

The two Dr. Johns. The resemblance is uncanny.

For many of our cast members, their historical family members may be their real family members in the 21st century. The Hiner, Stevenson, and Bache families are all involved in Christmastide. In fact,  Catherine Bache and her real-life sister Julia portrays historical sisters Eliza and Ann Croghan, while their younger sister takes on the role of Barbara Cosby, daughter of Fortunatus Cosby, the Croghan family lawyer. In turn, Jason Hiner portrays Fortunatus Cosby while his son Noah is Charles Croghan and his daughter Jocelyn is Eloise Bullitt. Jocelyn’s historical mom is Diana Gwathmey Bullitt, played by Kelly Stevenson. Kelly’s husband and son are also in the cast–her son Tom portrays Nicholas Croghan while her husband Keith Stevenson plays Nicholas’ older brother Dr. John Croghan in 1842. Confused yet? It is a little complicated, but it just makes Christmastide more fun! In fact, in the words of Jocelyn, “I’m going to have fun, but mostly it’s about the guests’ experience.” Even our youngest cast member is here to make sure all visitors have fun!

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Eloise Bullitt and Barabara Cosby at play.

So, why should you come to Christmastide? If you ask Mary Beth, our Curator of Collections and Education, she’ll say “For the cookies! And because it’s one of the only times you can see the house at night.” Brian wants guests “to lose themselves in the joy and cheer of another time.” I don’t think I can put it any better than that. Hope to see you all there!

With much joy and cheer,

Hannah

All photographs in this post courtesy of Heather Hiner and Story Moon Photography.