How to see Fredericksburg's grandest homes decked out for the holidays
There’s nothing like seeing a grand old house decked out for the holidays. Whether the décor is inspired by the home’s history, or is the work of modern designers, touring these historic homes is a treasured holiday activity for many people. That’s especially true here in the Fredericksburg region, which has a wealth of beautiful homes full of history, each of which offers its own special holiday welcome.
Here’s my guide to seeing the best holiday homes in the Fredericksburg region.
Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont – This eighteenth-century estate, once home to American painter Gari Melchers, will hold its annual Holiday Open House on Wednesday, Dec. 10, from 6 – 8 p.m. Tour the house and studio and be drawn into the holiday spirit by interior decorations inspired by Corinne Melchers and exterior decorations by the Fawn Lake Garden Club. There will be light refreshments, harp music and a cash bar where you can try the Melchers Cosmopolitan, a signature cocktail inspired by New York’s Cosmopolitan Club. This is where the cosmopolitan cocktail started, and Melchers was a member. This event is open to the public. Admission is $10; Friends of Belmont are free. You can also enjoy the décor and grounds on a tour of the home at any time during the holiday season. Find more information here. (As an aside, the museum shop at Belmont could very well be your secret weapon for finding unique holiday gifts. Among other art-themed gifts, you’ll find some beautiful prints of Melchers’ paintings of scenes from Stafford and Fredericksburg.)
44th Annual Candlelight Tour – This is always a highly anticipated holiday event in the Fredericksburg area. On Dec. 13-14, seven historic homes in downtown Fredericksburg will open their doors, decked in holiday splendor. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 on the day of, and may be purchased from the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation Inc. here. You may also purchase tickets on the day of the tour at the Fredericksburg Visitor Center at 706 Caroline St. and the Candlelight Tour Gift Shop at 1414 Caroline St. (entrance on Princess Anne St.) Featured homes on this year’s tour include the Rising Sun Tavern, the Schooler House Bed & Breakfast and more. This is a great way to see some of the city’s most charming homes, while also gaining a new perspective on local history.
A Wee Christmas at Kenmore – This stately plantation home to Fielding Lewis and Betty Washington Lewis will play host to a dollhouse and miniatures show from Dec. 8 – 30 (closed Dec. 24 and 25). You can always find a highly detailed miniature replica of Kenmore mansion in the Crowninshield Museum Building, to your left as you enter the property from Washington Avenue. This holiday season, that dollhouse will be joined by several others, on loan to the George Washington Foundation. Marvel at the detailed work that goes into these little worlds, and then tour the real-life Kenmore in all its holiday beauty. Learn more here.
28th Annual Gingerbread Contest and Exhibit at Ferry Farm – Prepare to be impressed with what can be done with materials made essentially from flour, butter and sugar. This annual exhibit, on the grounds of George Washington’s boyhood home, is a long-standing holiday tradition in the Fredericksburg area. The theme for this year is “Home Sweet Home,” and you can view the entries from Dec. 7 through Dec. 30 (closed Dec. 24 and 25). As you walk through the exhibit, you’ll enjoy the fragrance of gingerbread, sweet treats and fresh greenery. This is a treat for young and old alike. Find details here.
Washington Heritage Museums – Three of the historic homes owned by this Fredericksburg-based organization will be dressed up for the holidays, with décor inspired by their rich history. Plan your visit to Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop, Mary Washington House or Rising Sun Tavern here.