It’s time to party like it’s 1679!
Seven borough landmarks offer glimpses into past Christmas celebrations during the 29th Annual Holiday Historic House Tour on Sunday, Dec. 11, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors can walk or take a chartered bus to the sites, which are in Flushing and Corona.
Most venues will offer time-honored activities and refreshments, and they will be decorated as they were during their first holiday seasons. For example, Corona’s Louis Armstrong House Museum will be brightly illuminated as per the design style of the jazz legend’s wife, Lucile. Visitors will be able to listen to Satchmo reading “’Twas the Night Before Christmas, A Visit from St. Nicholas” in 1971 and other recordings. (Expect free candy canes.)
The other venues are in Flushing.
Kingsland Homestead, which dates back to the 17th century, will offer live music throughout the afternoon and a gift shop with local history books. Plus, the organizers will display its new exhibit, “Toys and Games from the Attic and Beyond,” which contains everything from an antique Chinese pinball game to a Star Wars collection.
Just a few steps away is the Voelker Orth Museum, which was built in 1891 and first provided shelter to three generations of a family with German roots. As such, the Victorian property will be dressed up in a traditional Teutonic style with gingerbread houses and gum drops. Pianist Kenneth Gartman will lead singalongs, and visitors will be able to eat cookies, drink hot cider, and peruse a gift-and-plant sale.
Expect an Old England feel at the nearby Bowne House, which dates to 1661 and was inhabited by nine generations of the Bowne and Parsons families before becoming a museum in 1945. The event’s program has not been announced yet.
Flushing Town Hall will trade history for last-minute shopping and host a craft market with everything from handmade clothing and jewelry to paintings, figurines, and ceramics. Meanwhile on the other side of Northern Boulevard, the Friends Quaker Meeting will open its doors for people who want to explore the property and cemetery. Built in 1694, this is NYC’s oldest structure in continuous use for religious purposes.
At the Lewis H. Latimer House Museum, guides will give tours of the antique lamp collection, garden, tinkering lab, and interactive poetry installation. Latimer, whose parents were fugitive slaves, was an inventor who helped develop the telephone and the incandescent light bulb.
Editor’s note: Due to the tour’s popularity, buying $15 tickets in advance is recommended. They cost $20 at the door.
Photos provided by individual houses