An Old-Fashioned Christmas at Historic Hearthside House

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The holiday season is upon us and there’s no place like the historic Hearthside House on Great Road in Lincoln, RI to bring out the joy and spirit in young and old alike.  “An Old-Fashioned Christmas” celebrates the traditions and nostalgia of this favorite time of year with stunning decorations, twinkling lights, festive music, a cozy fire, and the delicious aromas of hot cider and home-baked cookies. 

The season opens on Sunday, December 8th, and continues the following weekend on Saturday the 14th and Sunday the 15th.  The Sunday openings are between 2-6 p.m. and the Saturday evening is between 4-7 p.m.  Self-guided tours allow visitors to enjoy the house at their leisure during these times. 

The featured attraction is a Victorian-style Santa Claus, with Mrs. Claus by his side, helping Santa keep track of all the wishes coming his way and passing out peppermint candy canes.  Families are encouraged to bring children along with cameras to capture the unforgettable moments and perhaps a picture by one of the dozens of decorated trees throughout the house.

The sounds of the season are brought to life with music performed on the harp, acoustical guitar, and antique piano at different times at each of the openings.  On Saturday, December 14th, there will be a special appearance by local vocalist Kelley Lennon, who will greet visitors with a variety of favorite holiday songs from her Christmas CD’s between 4-5 p.m.

Every wonder why we hang Christmas stockings, why poinsettias, holly and mistletoe became symbols of the holiday, or why a pickle ornament is so special among all the others on the tree?  Costumed docents explain these and other traditions which have become part of our holiday celebrations today.   Several items being displayed come from the museum’s collections including antique toys, artifacts, and clothing. 

Hearthside’s holiday events also extend next door to Chase Farm Park for “A 19th CenturyChristmas at the Schoolhouse” that takes place on Sunday, December 8th and Sunday, December 15th.   Step inside the recently restored, one-room Pullen’s Corner School which dates to 1850 to be welcomed by youth docents dressed in period attire and experience a Christmas program as students would have performed during the late 19th century. The children’s recital of poems and songs will take place at 1:00 and 2:00 at each of the Sunday afternoon openings.  The schoolhouse will close at 4:00 p.m.  Space is limited at the schoolhouse performances, so reservations are suggested.

What can you expect to see at Hearthside?  Upon entering the front hallway, a tabletop tree in the foyer is decked out with beautiful ornaments and spins slowly around as a delightful tune comes from the antique silver German music box tree stand. A cozy fire in the parlor is not only a scene out of a Christmas card, but it will also be a welcome relief coming in from the cold.  The dining room table will be set for an elegant Christmas dinner, complete with a Yule Log and Victorian Crackers at each place setting to end the festive meal.  The Colonial kitchen with its simple decorations is the spot where holiday cheer is served up with a yuletide treat of cookies and hot cider.

Old-fashioned toys and dolls along with bright paper packages sit under the trees as they would have been at the turn of the century in many of the rooms.  Upstairs in the bedrooms, fancy dresses are displayed as if they are about to be worn for a special holiday party; wrapped packages sit on the bed ready for delivery; a Christmas stocking is hung on the corner of the bed filled with oranges; Victorian dolls are dressed in their finery; a train runs along a track under a Christmas tree, a pair of small boy’s boots are stuffed with hay and carrots with hopes that Santa’s reindeer will be enticed to stop by.  There are decorated trees in every room throughout three floors, even the attic where the looms and spinning wheels are draped with pine boughs and cranberries. 

A more recent historic look at Christmas is in the library where the time period is the 1950s.  Here, locally made mercury glass ornaments by the former Coby Company of Lonsdale, located just a short distance from Hearthside, adorn the tree that is trimmed with tinsel icicles and bubble lights.  Gifts under the tree include the most popular toys of that era, such as Raggedy Ann and a BB gun, along with some favorite gifts for adults at that time such as a mink stole, spilling out of an antique local department store box. What better place for a Memory Book for guests to record their favorite childhood memories than this room.

A stop in Hearthside’s Gift Shop is a must for picking out a special gift, such as an ornament, Christmas decoration, doll clothes, pretty tea cup, a Rhode Island Trivia game, perhaps a gift certificate for a hand forging class at the Hannaway Blacksmith Shop, or a one-year family membership to Hearthside.

“While Hearthside’s Christmas events are our most popular, many miss out because of busy schedules.  So, once the holiday rush is over, there is still time to visit Hearthside to enjoy the decorations with special “Home for the Holidays” tours given on Saturday, December 28thand Sunday, December 29th, states Kathy Hartley of the Friends of Hearthside.  “These candlelight tours will be the only time during the month that fully-guided tours are given by the costumed interpreters.  With out-of-town family members visiting for the holiday, we find these tours to be quite popular,” she adds.  

Reservations are required for the Home for the Holiday tours since space is limited for each tour.  Tours begin every half hour starting at 4:00 p.m. with the last one at 6:00 p.m. and generally last one hour.  To reserve, call 726-0597 or email

Hearthside is decorated and managed as a museum by the Friends of Hearthside, an all-volunteer organization that has worked to preserve the Town-owned historic house and other nearby properties along Great Road, known as “The Great Road Heritage Campus at Chase Farm Park.” Funds raised through the tours and events support the efforts of the volunteer organization to keep our history alive.