Plumb Grove on display for the holidays

December 09, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - Hundreds of people strolled through the Plumb Grove mansion near Clear Spring on Saturday to get a taste of the way Christmas was celebrated in the 19th century.

David Wiles, president of the Clear Spring District Historical Association, said Plumb Grove by Candle Light is held one day every year so people can better understand the importance of historic preservation. The mansion, which was built in 1831, was deteriorating until the historical association gained ownership in 1981, he said.

About 800 people visit the mansion every year around Christmastime.

"There is a tremendous craving to see how their ancestors lived," he said. "If you've been here before, you have to come back again. The atmosphere is so relaxing."

The historical association's 700 members volunteer their time to decorate the mansion as authentically as possible, Wiles said. The Christmas trees, for example, were cut fresh and later decorated with handmade paper stars, among other things.


"(In the 19th century), they used what they had," he said.

As guests walked through some of the mansion's doorways, they were greeted by Christmas music and a rush of heat from burning fireplaces. Visitors were free to handle mantel pieces and other antique knickknacks.

Wiles said the historical society collects donations and holds various fundraisers to pay for renovations at Plumb Grove. They're in the process of trying to raise more than $12,000 to buy shutters and hardware for the mansion's 40 doors.

"They've done a great job," said Kathy Thompson of Fayetteville, Pa. "I love old houses. I love to see that people are keeping them restored."

Thompson's friend, Marian Foster, agreed.

"It's our heritage," she said. "We need to preserve it."

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