Fredericksburg Features

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History calendar


Curator’s Chat, National Museum of the Marine Corps. 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26. Learn about the contributions  American Indians made to the Marine Corps. Free program; all ages. 18900 Jefferson Davis Highway, Triangle.  703/784-6116;


“From Patriots to Carpetbaggers: Kenmore Before, During, and After the Civil War,”  Kenmore Plantation & Gardens, at 1 p.m. Fridays  through November. Visit Kenmore on Friday afternoons for a special Civil War tour. Learn how it    changed from a majestic, 18th-century plantation to the home of a carpetbagger after the war. Topics  include Civil War artillery damage, hospitals, nurses, female spies  and food.     For all ages.  Regular admission. 1201 Washington Ave., Fredericksburg.; 540/373-3381.

“A Christmas Evening at Montpelier,” 5–7 p.m. Dec. 2–4. Enhance the holiday spirit with a special visit to the home of the father of the U.S. Constitution, starting with   a candlelight mansion tour. Dolley Madison will welcome you in the drawing room  where she and James Madison  received guests. Experience early 19th-century Christmas customs and see the latest finds from the “Presidential Detective Story,” the global search for the furnishings and décor that  graced Montpelier. See “Dolley Madison’s Life through Fashion: Dressing the Part,” a special exhibit 

of period gowns   created for the PBS “American Experience” series, “Dolley Madison, America’s First Lady.”

 Experience an 1860s   Christmas, enjoying songs and stories around a yule log with re-enactors from the  Army of Northern Virginia (weather permitting). Stroll  to the Grand Salon for a festive 20th-century holiday celebration including light refreshments, live music, and a  performance by the Assembly Dancers of Madison County, N.C. $25 in advance; $30 at  door. Members, $20 in advance, $25 at  door. For advance sale price,   RSVP at or call 540/672-2728, ext. 112.

First Friday at The Museum Store. 5–9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 2. Drop by  for  an evening of cheese, wine and shopping. 215 William St.

Special appreciation at The Museum Store, Dec. 2–4.  10 a.m.–9 p.m. Friday,   10 a.m.–6 p.m. Saturday, 12–5 p.m. Sunday. The Museum Store is offering special sale prices for members  and former e.e. smith customers. Saturday is member appreciation day. Not a member? Join! 215 William St.

“A Monroe Christmas,”   Dec. 3 through Jan. 2. This exhibition  transforms the  James Monroe Museum into a festive display of Christmas as James Monroe and his fellow Virginians might have enjoyed it. Features 18th- and 19th-century greenery, including holly, ivy, mistletoe, and mountain laurel, with details on   customs such as the “kissing ball,”  made out of mistletoe. A buffet  showcases  holiday dishes such as candied fruits, sweetmeats, oysters and plum pudding. Learn about Virginia’s  Christmas customs, such as the shooting off of guns and firecrackers, the kinds of presents exchanged between parents and their children, and how slaves might have experienced the  festivities. Admission fee.  10 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday–Saturday, 1–4 p.m. Sunday. 908 Charles St.  540/654-1043; jamesmon

Santa at The Museum Store.  6–8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9. Bring a camera and take advantage of a photo opportunity with Santa, or just bring the family for a visit with this very special Christmas guest and help  ring in the season. 215 William St.


“William H. Johnson:  An American Modern,”  through Dec. 4. Exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution chronicles the amazing life and  art-world experiences of this major American artist, a virtuoso in many media and styles. Open 10 a.m.–5 p.m. daily except Wednesdays. $10, adult admission;  UMW staff  and students, free.  Gari Melchers Home and Studio, 224 Washington St., Falmouth. 540/654-1015;

Wreath-making Workshop at Stratford Hall.  10 a.m.–noon Wednesday, Dec. 7. Join Northern Neck native Betsy Stuart Valentine, a longtime Stratford Hall board member, at the Barns at Stratford for a workshop to design and create   traditional wreaths using seasonal, native plants cut on the plantation. Stratford will have fruit, bows and other   decorations to enhance your natural wreath. Beginners to advanced. $35  for Friends of Stratford;  $40  for nonmembers. Register early! Email rsvp@stratford, fax 804/493-0333, or leave a message at 804/493-8038, ext. 7787.

 Historian talk; authors’ book signings at the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center in Fredericksburg. 9 a.m.–noon Saturday, Dec. 10. National Park Service historian John Hennessy will speak on “The Power of Letters and Diaries.” Local historians Tony Kent, author of the forthcoming “U.S. Highway 1 in Virginia” and Marion Woodfork Simmons, author of “Memories of Union High: An Oasis in Caroline County, Va.,” will sign copies of their work. There will be refreshments, tours of the regional archives, and books for purchase.   900 Barton St. (former Maury School gymnasium.) 540/373-3704.  Email


“1774: A Stratford Christmastide.”  4:30–8:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10.   Celebrate Christmas as they did in late 18th-century Virginia with  a bountiful table, games, greenery and music at the home of the Lees.   Guests will hear   revelry, drumming and rifle shots heralding the season. Wood-burning flambeaux will illuminate

 the landscape, and dozens of candle lanterns will guide  the way to the Great House, where music will fill the air. The renowned Washington’s Camerata, a period instrument ensemble, will perform two concerts,   at 5:30–6:15 p.m. and   6:45–7:30 p.m. $10, adults; $5, children under 12.  A special Christmas dinner will be served in the Stratford Hall Dining Room at 3 and 6  p.m.  $50,  ages 12 and up; $25,  ages 6–11; children age 5 and under,  free. Includes a $10  tour ticket, dinner and beverage, tax and gratuity. Dinner  by reservation only; Credit card only. Call 804/493-8038, ext. 8039, or email for   information and   reservations.  See  the menu at

“Fit to Print:  Newspapers in the 21st Century,”    7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13. Josiah Rowe, publisher emeritus of The Free Lance–Star, will conclude the Fredericksburg Area Museum’s three-lecture “Evening With an Expert” series with a   look at how the newspaper industry has changed over the decades.   In 1900, the The Free Lance merged with  The Daily Star; the the two papers were published independently until 1926 when, under the leadership of Josiah P. Rowe Jr., they were combined into a single, six-day-a-week newspaper, The Free Lance–Star. Rowe eventually became its owner and publisher. The  lecture,

 in the Catherine W. Jones McKann Center at 1001 Princess Anne St.,

   is free and open to the public.

A members-only FAMCC reception will follow; nonmembers may join that evening for admittance to the reception.  Call 540/371-3037, 

ext. 140, or email


Jingle-bell carriage rides in Old Town Fredericksburg.  4–9 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays    through Dec. 30. Fun for  the whole family, with holiday music, cookies, hot chocolate and warm blankets. Travel  Caroline Street to see decorated store windows and lower Princess Anne Street  to admire its  grand homes. Reservations required. $75 per carriage for a half-hour. A carriage holds four to six people. City Visitor Center carriage stand, 706 Caroline St., Fredericksburg. 540/371-0094. oldetownecar

  “A 19th-century Christmas at Ellwood Manor.” 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17. Santa will visit and there will be children’s crafts  from 9 to 11 a.m.  Afterward, interpreters will talk about 19th-century Christmas traditions  and read Yuletide  letters of Civil War soldiers. John Tole will provide seasonal music. The Fawn      Lake Garden Club will decorate the circa-1790 plantation house, which figured significantly in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War battles of Chancellorsville and the  Wilderness. Free; donations welcome.  Hosted by the all-volunteer Friends of Wilderness Battlefield. Entrance off State Route 20, just west of State Route 3 in eastern Orange County.

“Holiday without Joy: Christmas in the Civil War,” Chatham Manor, Stafford County, Friday–Saturday, Dec. 17–18. The 18th-century mansion will echo with period holiday music. Living historian Kevin Rawlings will portray  a Civil War-era Santa, complete with a patriotic outfit. Details TBA;  120 Chatham Lane.; 540/654-5121.

“A Washington Christmas,”  George Washington Birthplace National Monument. Tuesday, Dec. 27. The park’s Memorial House will be decorated for the holidays and filled with Colonial music. The plantation will be busy with demonstrations and activities performed by costumed interpreters.  Come dusk, the park will be illuminated   with candles. Free. 1732 Popes Creek Road, off State Route 3, about 35 miles east of Fredericksburg.

“Above the Fold,”        Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center.   See more than 150 years of  news coverage in this new exhibit  on   journalism in the Fredericksburg area, with artifacts and rare examples of bygone  newspapers.   Documents Gallery of the   Catherine W. Jones McKann Center, 1001 Princess Anne St. Regular admission. Visit or call 540/371-3037.

“Are Your Hands Idle?” Special exhibit at the   John J. Wright Museum near Spotsylvania Courthouse   explores   work and leisure, past and present, especially in the context of difficult economic times.   Open 10 a.m.–3 p.m Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.   7565 Courthouse Road; jjwmuseum .org; 540/582-7583, ext. 5545. Free. On display through January 2012.

 Caroline Museum and Cultural Center,   brand-new facility. Exhibits on county history  include stories of Civil War soldiers and civilians, and quilts with secret messages for escaping slaves.   Free.  Courthouse complex, 121 North Main St., downtown Bowling Green. 804/633-3490;



 Family History Adventure Tours,  Historic Kenmore.  Families can visit Kenmore top to bottom, play 18th-century games and “I Spy Kenmore” to discover facts about history, smell aromas of an 18th-century kitchen and learn what Kenmore’s residents ate. Adults and children 4–12; children must be accompanied by an adult. Reservations required: for weekdays, 24 hours in advance; for weekends, 

a week in advance. Contact Vickie Hayes at 540/370-0732, ext. 24, or Admission fee.




“An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia,” at the Virginia Historical Society,  428 N. Boulevard, Richmond.  Signature program of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission—with 18 audiovisual programs and more than 200 artifacts—tells personal experiences of wartime Virginia’s free and enslaved men, women, children. Free;  804/358-4901,


Please email listings to tandc@freelance (subject: History Calendar), fax to 540/373-8455 or visit Deadline: Noon Thursday preceding   section’s Tuesday publication.