Fredericksburg Features

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History calendar

Holiday Tours at Gari Melchers Home and Studio.  Throughout December, Belmont is offering daily “Holidays With the Melcherses” 30-minute guided tours of impressionist artist Gari  Melchers’ decorated Georgian house. Exterior decorations by the Rappahannock Valley Garden Club. The museum gift shop is also decked out. Hourly tours  start at 10:30 a.m., included in $10 admission for adults. Students 18 years old and younger are admitted free with accompanying, paying adult (limit two). The property,   a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark, is  at 224 Washington St. in Falmouth.  540/654-1015;     

“A Civil War Christmas at Kenmore,”  through Dec. 30 (Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Focuses on the Civil War era. Learn how modern concepts of Christmas season were shaped during the mid-19th century. Christmas decorations fill the house, toys are under a feather tree, and a holiday meal is set. In each room, guides will talk about how residents and visitors, from children to slaves, experienced the season during this dark period. Kenmore, built by George Washington’s sister, Betty Washington Lewis, and her husband, Fielding Lewis, is at 1201 Washington Ave., in  Fredericksburg.; 540/373-3381.

25th annual Gingerbread House Contest and Exhibit at George Washington’s Ferry Farm, through Dec. 30,  10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day).  Regular admission. The theme is “The World of Make Believe.”  Ferry Farm is about a mile east of Fredericksburg on State Route 3 in southern Stafford County, at 268 Kings Highway.; 540/371-3363.

“A Monroe Christmas,”   through Jan. 2. This exhibit  transforms the  James Monroe Museum into a festive display of Christmas as Monroe and his fellow Virginians might have enjoyed it. Learn about Virginia’s  Christmas customs, such as the shooting of guns and firecrackers, the presents exchanged between parents and  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;

Jingle-bell carriage rides in Old Town Fredericksburg.  4–9 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays    through Dec. 30. Holiday music, cookies, hot chocolate, warm blankets. Reservations required. $75 per carriage for a half-hour.  Carriage holds four to six. City Visitor Center carriage stand, 706 Caroline St., Fredericksburg. 540/371-0094.

“A Washington Christmas,”  Tuesday, Dec. 27, George Washington Birthplace National Monument. The park’s Memorial House will be decorated for the holidays and filled with Colonial music. Four National Park Service historians will give brief, informal talks on the most important Christmases in George Washington’s life. The plantation and Colonial Living Farm along Westmoreland County’s scenic Popes Creek 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, on the Northern Neck.; 804/224-1732.

“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.   Documents Gallery of the   Catherine W. Jones McKann Center, 1001 Princess Anne St. Regular admission. Visit or call 540/371-3037.

“Washingtonia: How We Remember George.” New exhibit at Ferry Farm, George Washington’s boyhood home in Stafford, shows how  the nation’s first president has been commemorated and mythologized over  two centuries.  Includes objects from the collection of  Edwin Snead  III and gifts from the collection of   Elizabeth Nolan.      10 a.m.–5 p.m. daily; closed Dec. 24, 25 and 31. Ferry Farm is about a mile east of Fredericksburg on State Route 3 in southern Stafford County, at 268 Kings Highway. General admission;; 540/371-3363.

Open House in honor of Gen. Hugh Mercer. Noon–4 p.m. Sunday, Jan, 15.  Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop, 1020 Caroline, opens for the birthday of the Revolutionary War patriot killed in the Battle of Princeton. Celebrate Dr. Mercer’s birthday and join  interpreters as they  show how Dr. Mercer practiced medicine for 15 years in Fredericksburg. Walk in the  herb garden of the 18th-century building  restored to house the apothecary. Leeches, lancets, snakeroot  and crab claws make up just some of the remedies. Patients included Mary Washington, mother of George. Dr. Mercer left his practice to join the Revolutionary Army and died in battle as a brigadier general. Free. 540/373-3362;

Keynote lecture,   Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18. Activist, social critic and scholar Marc Lamont Hill, an associate professor at Columbia University, will deliver a lecture, “Building Toward the Dream: Progress in the Age of Obama,” addressing political activism and change in today’s society. Sponsored by the Office of the President at the University of Mary Washington. At George Washington Hall’s Dodd Auditorium. Free.; 540/654-1044.

Film, “King: Man of Peace in a Time of War.” 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19. Room 411, Lee Hall, University of Mary Washington. Viewing of the 2007 documentary about King, followed by discussion. Sponsored by Omicron Alpha Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Free.; 540/654-1044.

Reading Lee, 10 a.m.– 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21. Elizabeth Brown Pryor, biographer of “Robert E. Lee,” in the Fleming–Smith Room at Historic Kenmore. Pryor will   discuss  her in-depth and surprising Lee profile, “Reading the Man.”   Limited seating, reservations recommended;   $45, with lunch provided.  Email Jon Bachman at or call 804/493-8030, ext. 2010.

Kurt Vonnegut: The Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24.  Charles J. Shields, author of the Vonnegut biography “And So It Goes” and  associate director of the University of Mary Washington’s Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series, will speak at George Washington Hall’s Dodd Auditorium at UMW.  Free;;  540/654-1065.

Lafayette: The Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31. Journalist and historian  Marc Leepson, author of “Lafayette: Lessons in Leadership From the Idealist General,” will speak in George Washington Hall’s Dodd Auditorium at the University of Mary Washington. Free;;  540/654-1065.

Noah Webster: The Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2. Joshua Kendall, author of “The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster’s Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture,” will speak in George Washington Hall’s Dodd Auditorium. Kendall is an associate fellow at Yale’s Trumbull College. Free;;  540/654-1065.

Aaron Burr: The Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series.  7:30 p.m Tuesday, Feb. 7. David O. Stewart, author of “American Emperor: Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America,” will speak in George Washington Hall’s Dodd Auditorium. Free;;  540/654-1065.

Columbus: The Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series.  7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9. Laurence Bergreen, author of “Columbus: The Four Voyages,” will speak in George Washington Hall’s Dodd Auditorium. Free;;  540/654-1065.

Richard and Mildred Loving: The Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series.  7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14. Panel discussion of the U.S. Supreme Court case of Loving vs. Virginia, and a showing of the HBO-produced documentary on the Caroline County couple, in George Washington Hall’s Dodd Auditorium. The panelists will be Bernard Cohen, one of two lawyers who argued the case before the high court, and Peggy Fortune, the Lovings’  daughter. Free;;  540/654-1065.


“Are Your Hands Idle?” Special exhibit at John J. Wright Museum near Spotsylvania Courthouse   explores   work and leisure, past and present, especially in 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,   new facility. Exhibits on county history  include Civil War stories and quilts with secret messages for escaping slaves.   Free.  Courthouse complex, 121 North Main St., downtown Bowling Green. 804/633-3490;


“An Un-Civil Christmas: Holiday Music of the Civil War,”  7:30 and 9 p.m., on Dec. 21, 24, 28, 30 and Jan. 1 at Colonial Williamsburg’s Courthouse. Tickets, $15; $7.50 for children under 6.

Williamsburg Civil War Tour, Monday, Dec. 26, at 7, 7:20, 7:40, 8:20, 8:40 and 9 p.m., at the Colonial Williamsburg Courthouse. Williamsburg  experienced a tragic battle on its doorstep. One-hour walking tour. Tickets, $15; $7.50 for children under 6.

“An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia,” through Dec. 30 at the Virginia Historical Society,  428 N. Boulevard, Richmond.  Signature program of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission. Free;    804/358-4901,


“Farewell to the Civil War,” 10:30 a.m.–12  p.m. or 6–7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10.  Behind-the-scenes tour will give a unique, final look at the Virginia Historical Society’s massive, ground-breaking  Civil War sesquicentennial exhibition as it is packed for travel to seven other Virginia museums. The tour will be led by Andrew Talkov, head of program development and coordinator for “An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia.”  Buy tickets online, $10/VHS members; $17, nonmembers.; 804/342-9676 or email 428 N. Boulevard, Richmond.

Please email listings to tandc@freelance (subject: History Calendar), fax to 540/373-8455 or visit This week’s special deadline: Noon Wednesday preceding   the section’s Tuesday publication.