West Volusia Historical Society’s Edwardian Christmas Candlelight Tour of DeLand House
It’s not every day you get to step back in time and see what life was like decades—or centuries—ago. But that’s exactly what the West Volusia Historical Society offered the public when they hosted an Edwardian Christmas Candlelight Tour of DeLand House, the city’s historic home museum, on December 8th.
Today, we’re looking at the thought and careful planning that went into putting on the tour.
The main idea of the tour was for participants to immerse themselves in an Edwardian era family’s Christmas celebration—complete with decorations and party favors. But to do this, lots of time and research went into making sure every detail was as accurate as possible.
Once the planning phase was completed, the historical society took time to decorate the house in the period’s style—which, as you might have guessed, looked a good bit different from what we’re used to in today’s modern age! Instead of strings of twinkling lights, for example, participants found trees decorated with ornaments and other handmade items. There was also plenty of garland and assorted figurines placed throughout the house. To top it all off, the home and tour were lit entirely by (flameless, battery-powered) candles to create a true Edwardian atmosphere.
While the home itself was decorated with thoughtful attention to detail, the live elements made the experience all the more memorable for participants. Volunteers costumed in period clothing were present to add to the Edwardian atmosphere, and to help interpret and explain elements of the tour to visitors.
Larry French, Executive Director of the West Volusia Historical Society, was one such volunteer. In addition to helping plan the event, French acted as a greeter at the door to welcome visitors into the DeLand House and add to the immersion experience.
“That’s what we’re all about,” French said, explaining that his (and the rest of the historical society’s) efforts went into creating a tour that was as enjoyable and historically accurate as possible.
In addition to volunteers like French, others even played music for the guests on both a traditional pump organ and a keyboard in the back parlor. The tour also featured traditional Christmas carols from the time period, a high point for many visitors.
Finally, as visitors realized during the tour, no detail was left out. Everyone got to enjoy traditional time period refreshments, and even went home with party favors (as was customary at the time) that included goodies like chocolates and peppermints.
Reception for the tour was resoundingly positive, and, according to French, even received positive feedback from teens… a notoriously hard-to-please group!
Those who enjoyed the tour also got the chance to come back to the DeLand house on Saturday the 12th for a workshop on making (and bringing home) Edwardian holiday decorations with natural materials.
Director French expressed his excitement to continue the tour in the years to come, after seeing how successful and well-received it was this year.
If you missed out on your chance to experience the Edwardian Christmas Candlelight Tour, don’t worry! You can still visit the DeLand House museum now and throughout the year, and can participate in new events as they are announced—just visit DeLandHouse.com for details and full schedules.
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