Take a step back in time during the holiday season

BARNESVILLE — Looking for more “tradition” in your holidays? Does time seem to speed up on Nov. 1 while you frantically search for the latest, greatest gifts and coordinate out-of-town trips or visitors? The Belmont County Historical Society and Victorian Mansion Museum invites you to slow down and step back into this area’s history during the Christmas season.

Since 1973 the museum, the former Bradfield home at 532 N. Chestnut Street in Barnesville, has offered “The Magic of Christmas” tours throughout the 26-room mansion. Volunteers have been busy filling the rooms with elegant ribbons and trees and lights, showcasing period furniture and opulent architectural details rarely seen today.

The oak fretwork is hand carved; there are 11 fireplaces, some referencing mythical figures; the original light fixtures that use both gas and electric were cutting edge in the 1890’s. It took five years to build the home, and Nancy Moore, curator, notes that great care is taken in preserving the authentic Victorian atmosphere. Several pieces of furniture and glass belonged to the home’s original family.

This year the tours begin Nov. 27 and 28 from 1 to 4 p.m. and will be open each weekend through Dec. 19, Fridays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. After Dec. 26, tours will be conducted by appointment until Jan. 9, 2011. Tour fees are $5 for adults and $2 for children ages 6 through 18. Historical Society members and volunteers are invited to a preview party on Friday, Nov. 26 at 7 p.m.

In addition, on Friday, Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. the Historical Society will host its fifth annual holiday Victorian Tea at the mansion. Reservations, required, can be made until noon on Thursday, Dec. 2. Cost for the tea is $15 per person. Tours will be available for the applicable tour fees. Make reservations by calling (740)695-0766 or (740)425-2273.

Decorating Committee chair Jeffrey Van Horn says he appreciates the time and energy of the volunteers for this year’s Christmas season: Jeanette Hissom, Denise Jones, Jill Stephen, Carolyn Stephens, Emery Stewart III, Susan Fulmer, Erin Alexo, Cheryl Elliot, Troy Biery; Beth Stephen of Bless Your Heart Folk Art & Gift Shop; the Flushing Garden Club; Nancy Combs of Quizno’s Ohio Valley Mall; Brenda Ponzani and Nicole Ponzani of Ponzani Florists; Crafts 2000 Ohio Valley Mall; Lori and Doug Hocking of Hocking Eye Care, and the Ohio Valley Hospice.

The Belmont County Historical Society is an all-volunteer charitable organization, with 15 trustees and 45 volunteers from Belmont and Monroe Counties. Throughout the year the mansion hosts themed public events as well as private parties such as luncheons, showers, weddings and teas. Private tours for groups of 10 or more are available at a reduced rate by reservation only. Call (740)425-2926, (740)425-2273 or (740)484-4716 for reservations or more information.

Valenti may be reached at gvalenti@timesleaderonline.com.