Montpelier Mansion holiday preparations


November 26, 1998|By Lourdes Sullivan | Lourdes Sullivan,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

HELEN BAILEY -- known to her friends as Babs -- is a friend of Laurel's Montpelier Mansion.

She is one of a corps of volunteers -- the Friends of Montpelier -- who conduct guided tours and raise funds for the restoration and maintenance of the 18th-century house on Montpelier Drive.

They help preserve our history.

Bailey has served the group in a number of positions, including president.

The group has been busy at the mansion. A Nov. 18 meeting featured a lecture on indentured servants in early America.

The group's meetings, which resume in the spring, are open to the public and free.

But the Friends of Montpelier sponsors other programs, too. Now it is preparing for the holiday season at the mansion.

On Saturday, Anne Brooks of Brookside Gardens in Montgomery County demonstrated how to make colonial-style wreaths and garlands.

All the materials she used were, of course, natural -- no plastics were allowed.

By using citrus fruits, apples, evergreens and boxwoods, Brooks showed how to create elegant decorations that Abigail Adams herself would have admired.

Adams did stay at Montpelier en route to her husband's inauguration as president.

The lessons learned from Brooks' demonstrations will come in handy in two weeks when garden and other clubs descend on the mansion to decorate its halls and hyphens for Christmas. A hyphen is a small hallway that leads from one part of a Georgian-style building to another -- a sort of enclosed breezeway.

Among the community groups involved in the decorating project are the Fort Meade Garden Club, Beltsville Garden Club and Burtonsville Garden Club.

Having just put their own gardens to bed for the winter, club members now have another horticultural outlet for their energies.

Other community groups also are participating. Pat Witkowski from Bowie and some of her friends will be there, as will the Wednesday Club (a women's group from Montpelier Woods, a small neighboring community).

Of course, the Friends of Montpelier Mansion are involved, and the Knights of Columbus from the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Bowie.

Members of these organizations will be busy Dec. 6 getting the house ready for its annual candlelight tours.

The Montpelier tours are a holiday delight.

Costumed docents will lead visitors through the decorated house, illuminated by candlelight, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 9 through 11, and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 12.

Seasonal music will be provided by the Parkdale Bell Ringers (a hand bell choir), the Bowie High school concert choir and the St. Nicholas Church choir.

While the evening tours have the most "atmosphere" -- candlelight loses some of its aesthetic effect at 11 a.m. -- those who attend in the morning will have the opportunity to hear John Tarrafas and his group playing 18th-century music on horns and recorders.

Admission is $3 for adults; $1 for children.

On Dec. 13, the mansion will hold a Christmas dinner.

This traditional holiday meal -- to be held in the first-floor hall, parlors, hyphens and wings -- will be catered by Bobby Mitchell of Putting on the Ritz in Savage.

The event features strolling lute player John Durant.

The cost is $30. The dinner is recommended for people age 12 and older.

Reservations are required.

Information or reservations: Mary Jurkiewicz, 301-953-1376.

Future activities at the mansion include a six-week series of Saturday morning programs on colonial girls' lives, for girls ages 9 to 12.

A dancing master is coming to teach the girls the "latest" minuets.

In one session, the girls will dress in Colonial garb; in another, they will learn how to make confections such as marzipan.

The series concludes with an elegant tea to which the girls may invite their dolls.

The sessions are from 10 a.m. to noon. Jan. 9 through Feb. 18.

The cost, which includes a light refreshment and materials for the crafts, is $45.

The program is limited to 12 participants.

Information or reservations: 301-604-8789.

Pub Date: 11/26/98

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