Christmas at the Miller House

December 08, 1999

If you go...

"A Williamsburg Christmas" will be celebrated at the Miller House, the early 19th-century red brick townhouse at 135 W. Washington St. in downtown Hagerstown.

It is open for tours from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays to Sundays, through New Year's Eve. The Miller House will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Admission is $3 for adults; $2 for senior citizens; free for students younger than 16.

The Miller House will be closed to tours from Jan. 1 to April 5. However, the office and library will be open Tuesdays to Saturdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For information, call 301-797-8782.

Members of Washington County Council of Garden Clubs have decorated the Federal period townhouse, home of Washington County Historical Society.

The garden clubs are:

- Antietam Garden Club

- Chapelwood Garden Club

- Crossroads Garden Club

- Hagerstown Garden Club

- Potomac Garden Club

- Town & Country Garden Club

- Woodland Garden Club

By KATE COLEMAN / Staff Writer

photos: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

In Colonial times - before tinsel, twinkling electric lights and plastic Santas - Christmas decorations came from nature.

"A Williamsburg Christmas," is the theme for Christmas at the Miller House, on display through New Year's Eve. Members of Washington County Council of Garden Clubs have decorated the home of Washington County Historical Society in the manner of our country's early days.

cont. from lifestyle

Boxwood, dried lotus pods, spiky sweet gum balls and prickly teasel blossoms greet visitors at the front door. There are reds of pomegranate and rose hips. Dried yarrow, tansy, milkweed pods and popcorn berries range from deep gold to ivory. These displays were made by members of Potomac Garden Club.

Woodland Garden Club used a Renaissance cherub at the center of its arrangement on the bow front chest in Miller House's entrance hallway. In keeping with the Williamsburg theme, there are apples and pears. Delicate gilt twigs sparkle among magnolia leaves and other greens.

Shiny red apples and shiny red satin bows climb the handrail of the stairway to the second floor decorated by Chapelwood Garden Club. The real-looking roping of greens is decorated with the silvery petals of dried honesty or money plant.

Although a Christmas tree is not strictly appropriate to a Williamsburg Christmas, the towering Fraser fir in the front drawing room is the heart of this year's display. The tree was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Lee Stine of Sharpsburg. Lee Stine is president of Washington County Historical Society.

Miller House front stepsA simple folk-art tree is what Elizabeth Graff and Mindy Marsden had in mind. Graff, Miller House curator, decided to adorn the tree with three-dimensional Moravian stars from white paper. She had a pattern from an Early American Life magazine. Marsden, executive director of the historical society, asked the Hagerstown chapter of Embroiderers Guild of America to help fold the stars.

There are gilded pinecones, dried apple slices or schnitz, handcrafted pinwheel stars and candles. Cinnamon ornaments are inspired by the Miller House collection of Bell pottery. Marsden imitated the pottery's slip decoration by "painting" the ornaments with cake frosting.

To complement the stars, Graff painted little watercolor moon faces similar to the ones on the tall case clocks in the Miller House collection.

Hagerstown Garden Club created the fruit pyramids - apples, pears, boxwood and walnuts topped with a pineapple - that frame the mantel in the front drawing room. Magnolia and rhododendron leaves are the base of the arrangement that also includes dried lotus, tiny apples, red berries and twigs of cotton.

The back drawing room mantel features greens - some juniper and magnolia - as well as apples, lemons and pinecones. Antietam Garden Club used red candles in traditional brass candlesticks for some seasonal color.

At the center of the dining room mantel is a "fruit tree" made of boxwood, apples and pears and fragrant pomanders - oranges studded with cloves. Its crowning glory is a pineapple. As they might have in Colonial Williamsburg, sprigs of white pine and magnolia leaves and pods cover the mantel. Crossroads Garden Club added glass globes to the candlesticks for another period touch.

Town & Country Garden Club created the centerpiece on the dining room table, a large bowl filled with white poinsettias on a bed of boxwood. The arrangement sits on a mat of magnolia leaves decorated with sprigs of gilded berries. Bowls of sugared Granny Smith apples with boxwood garnish are at either end.

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