Victorian Christmas Committee
members ham it up a little in front of one of the hanging
baskets which the annual event provides for the historic
area of town. Behind them is the Edmond Metzger Home which
will be part of the Candle Light Tour this year. From
left is Ashley Bogart, House Chairperson for Victorian
Christmas, Tony Phillips, his wife Connie Phillips, and
Yvonne Roskowski. Phillips' home at 1513 Campbell Street
will also be part of the tour.
Come and experience Williamsport's
rich cultural and architectural heritage in the heart of the Millionaire's
Row Historic District!
and see Williamsport's Victorian Secret: A Peek Into Wardrobes Past!
November 18, 19 and 20,
Victorian Christmas Church
& House Tours ~ Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011, 10
a.m. to 5 p.m.
Homes decorated for the holiday with
entertainment at most sites.
Tickets are $15 per person, cash
or check. For credit cards, call the Lycoming County Visitors Bureau
at (800) 358-9900. Tickets can be purchased at the following locations:
The Community Arts Center, 220 West Fourth Street or The Lycoming
County Visitors Bureau, 210 William Street.
The birth of Victorian Christmas (and
the renaissance of Williamsport's fabled Millionaire's Row) all
began, appropriately enough, in the historic bar of the Peter Herdic
House Restaurant, 407 West Fourth Street, in March 1999.
Nan Young, one of the founders of Victorian
Christmas, remembers it well.
"Gloria, Ted and I were so active
in trying to achieve restoration in the Historic District.
One day, over a glass of wine at the bar, we decided to have a little
candlelight tour. We did it all ourselves and had a few houses,
dragging our friends in to guide. Then we added a luncheon
at Park Place. Oh, the first year we had a carol sing in the
lawn of Park Place and lit a tree on Friday evening. It was
Sisters Gloria and Marcia Miele, owners
of the Peter Herdic House Restaurant and other West Fourth Street
mansions, and Edward (Ted) Lyon, Jr., also a Historic District property
owner, share Young’s passion for historic preservation.
Energy and enthusiasm spread, as the
small group of determined mansion rescuers grew. They added
new events to the tours to maintain public intrigue, such as a crafts
fair in the gothic gym at Trinity Episcopal Church.
Soon, they were joined by Fran Visco,
her sisters and mother, who organized a bridal gown fashion show
at Park Place. Gown models portrayed well-known Williamsport
personalities. Some of the gowns were very old and made of gorgeous
silk and satin, recalls Young. Capitalizing on the success
of this show, the group organized more, featuring lovely authentic
Victorian clothing and hats and emceed by the mayor and other city
dignitaries. As an added attraction, Visco's family decorated
the prettiest tree at Park Place.
In the second year of mansion tours,
the group put their profits into enlisting local florist Diane Zeidler
to produce and maintain the lovely hanging baskets that now grace
the period light posts during summer months. The results were,
in Young's words, changes in the district.”
Fire-burned buildings were bought
by preservationists. Single families, such as Carlos and Melinda
Saldivia, Tim Levan, and Hank and Mary Collings moved to the heart
of Millionaire's Row.
Victorian Christmas committee members
joined on, adding music, decorations, teas, luncheons, carriage
rides, and appearances by Father Christmas in his elegant hand-crafted
They received grants from the Pennsylvania
Council of the Arts, Lycoming County Visitors' Bureau, and the Williamsport-Lycoming
Foundation to continue and enhance the festivities, which had become
a much-anticipated annual event. According to Young,
“the best celebration of all" occurred when Victorian
Magazine featured five of Williamsport's historic houses in several
of its issues. Everyone's hard work had put Victorian Christmas
and Williamsport on the map as a serious Victorian destination.
The first year we gathered our money
from the tickets in our muffs and went to the Herdic House to rejoice.
We put the money out to count and toasted each other, we were so
pleased,” recounts Young.
Although new faces and enthusiasm keep
events fresh, the Mieles, Lyon, and Young are to be applauded for
continuing to carefully tend the bright flame of preservation that
has its roots in Victorian Christmas.
a Scottish Christmas in 2008!
Nan Young, Ted Lyon Jr. and Gloria