Riding Through Time

Victorian Christmas highlights city's history

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Committee members and home owners are gearing up for the 21st Annual Victorian Christmas, presented by Preservation Williamsport on November 22-24. This year's theme is "Riding Through Time" with tours of historic homers, churches and buildings. Shown on the Hiawatha river boat are committee members and home owners from left: Nan Young, committee members, home owners Maurice and Mary Jo Bower, committee members Jill Confair, and Valerie Lundy, and home owner Bob Elion.

If one could travel back to the bygone era of the lumber barons and their mansions lining West Fourth Street, young and old alike could learn about the rich history of Williamsport. Victorian Christmas offers the community a chance to transport through time, enjoy music from local musicians, tour homes and churches and shop a juried artisan market.

Presented by Preservation Williamsport, Victorian Christmas is “dedicated to preserving and protecting Williamsport’s architectural heritage” and will be held on Nov. 22, 23 and 24, said Nan Young, one of the founders. Highlighting the area’s transportation history this year’s theme is “Riding Through Time.”

To set the tone, William Nichols Jr., general manager of River Valley Transit, will discuss “Traveling Through Time” in the City of Williamsport and surrounding communities, from rivers to rails, to electric street cars, trolleys and busses. Nichols will speak at 6 p.m. Nov. 22 in the sanctuary of Trinity Episcopal Church, 844 W. Fourth St.

Homes and churches

A perennial favorite of the Victorian Christmas experience is the Tour of Homes scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 23. Seven private homes in the Williamsport area will be fully dressed for the holidays and adorned with fresh floral arrangements provided by local florists. This year’s homes have “great architectural detail, some with modern adaptations, some with historical significance and some with legendary interest,” according to this year’s brochure.

Seven churches and five historic buildings and sites are also on the itinerary with free hop on-hop off trolley transportation from the Penn College Bush Campus Center, 115 College Ave. There are two loops passengers can take, Loop A and B.

Loop A takes passengers to the YWCA and Covenant Central Church, followed by the Saving Grace Shelter (the former Grace United Methodist Church on Campbell Street), The Cox Douglass House, Tine Ridge, the Tonkin Phillips House, the Lamade Reynolds House and four stops in one at the Park Place Gazebo: Peter Herdic Transportation Museum, Trinity Episcopal Church, the Oxford House and the Thomas T. Taber Museum, and then back to the Penn College Campus Center.

Ticket holders not riding the trolley to Tine Ridge should park at Cochran Elementary School on Cherry Street and take a shuttle to the site.

Loop B will provide transportation to Christ Episcopal Church, followed by James V. Brown Library, the Community Arts Center, City Alliance Church, the Hiram Rhodes House, St. Joseph the Worker Church and the Rowley House Museum. Before returning to Penn College, passengers on Loop B can also visit the four-in-one stop at the Park Place Gazebo.

Tickets can be purchased at the Community Arts Center, Genetti Hotel and Suites, Lycoming County Visitors Center and the Peter Herdic Transportation Museum. On the day of, tickets can be purchased at James V. Brown Library or at Penn College’s Bush Campus Center. Tickets are free for students with college ID and children through age 18.

Music and art

A lighting of the tree on the Park Place lawn is set to be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 22. Students from Lycoming College will lead the caroling, and hot chocolate and cookies will add some sweetness to the fun for the kids. Evening music can be enjoyed at Backhouse Cafe Coffee and Tea, 901 W. Fourth St.

Saturday, music will continue as there will be performances by the Williamsport Music Club at the Penn College Bush Campus Center from 9 a.m. to noon. The Minor Modes Saxophone Quartet will take the stage from 1 to 3 p.m. followed by the Hawthorne Opera Theater from 3 to 5 p.m.

The annual Artisan Holiday Market will have live wreath and ornament offerings from the DuBoistown Garden Club from 2 to 7 p.m. Nov. 22 at the YWCA, 815 W. Fourth St. The Artisan Market and the DuBoistown Garden Club will again be available at the YWCA from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 23

Throughout the weekend, Wine and Design, 357 Market St., will hold events for the community to unleash their inner artist. From 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 22 there will be an adult class in canvas painting. On Nov. 23, there will be a kids’ and adult winter-themed painting with walk-in youngsters from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and adults from 5 to 7 p.m. On Nov. 24, Wine and Design will also offer a DIY wood pallet construction. For the Wine and Design classes, advance registration and a fee are required.

Toy Train Expo

The Will Huffman Toy Train Expo, a traditional kids’ favorite, will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 23 and noon to 4 p.m. Nov. 24 at Park Place, 800 W. Fourth St., and also at the Peter Herdic Transportation Museum and Thomas T. Taber Museum.

Community effort

“The history we have here is so impressive,” said board president Jill Confair, who got involved with Victorian Christmas 10 years ago. Confair has always been interested in history and architecture.

The larger purpose of the events is to educate the community about the area’s rich history. The funding for Victorian Christmas comes in part through a competitive grant process, Confair said. Grants this year have been awarded from the Lycoming County Visitors Bureau, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and Bradford County Regional Arts Council.

Proceeds raised through Victorian Christmas are used to beautify the historic district with the hanging flower baskets that adorn the lampposts on West Fourth Street in the warmer weather and the 105 lit wreaths with ribbon and garland that hang in the winter, along with the maintenance involved in its care, Young said. Funds also helped with the ongoing roof replacement of the Rowley House Museum, which required different colors of slate shingles for authenticity.

Young, who founded the events with Gloria Miele Wood, the late Marie Miele and the late Tom Lyon, is pleased that over the years there are more men and families coming out to enjoy Victorian Christmas, she said. Every year the event seems to get bigger and better, with talented committee members taking on different roles and responsibilities to make the event a success.

“If I start something I want to see it grow, and it certainly has,” Young said of Victorian Christmas.

“It’s a passion,” she added. “Who can explain a passion?”


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