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Experience the traditions of Christmas past

Katherine Scoggins • Dec 8, 2016 at 10:46 AM

One of the community’s favorite Christmas traditions, which dates back to the 1820s when Richard and Margaret Netherland hosted a lavish party, is Netherland Inn’s 1818 Christmas Open House.

This year’s event will be held Dec. 9-10 from 6 to 8 p.m. and Dec. 11 from 2 to 4 p.m. The event will feature seasonal refreshments and live holiday music. All three floors of the historical Inn are decked with boughs of holly, according to Carolyn Allen who has chaired this event for many years.

“If you’ve never seen Netherland Inn decorated for Christmas, you are in for a treat,” says Allen. “Eight Garden Clubs work their magic and elegantly transform the Inn to make it reminiscent of Christmas in the early nineteenth century. Only fresh live greenery is used, accented with berries and pinecones. Every year we are in awe of the beauty of the live arrangements and the simple elegance of nature.

“The surrounding grounds of the Inn are decorated as well, and the Schoolhouse and Bank Barn also feature arrangements and simple touches of greenery. We have been so very blessed over the years to have the local garden clubs’ invaluable support as they share their time and talents in getting us decorated for Christmas! Garden clubs that participate include Garden Guild of Ridgefields, Green Acres Garden Club, Little House & Garden, Preston Forest Garden Club, Plantation Manor Garden Club, Ridgefields Garden Club, Rotherwood Estates Garden Club and Woodland Garden Club.”

While there is no appearance of glass Christmas balls or colored lights, battery-powered candles that have been made to look like lit candles (complete with drips) and firelight radiating from the fireplaces are used to provide soft light with the greenery.

“Years ago, we had a chimney sweep come to the Inn and clean the fireplaces and chimneys to make them safe to hold small fires. They are not ‘roaring’ fires - you won’t get overheated from them, but they do add ambiance,” Allen explains.

There will be several points of added interest throughout the Inn: the second floor (The Dining Room and Best Room) will feature seasonal refreshments and also on Friday and Saturday nights, Civil War reenactors from the John S. Mosby Camp Sons of Confederate Veterans will hold a discussion on the Civil War, debating points of the War with each other, as well as with guests. The Schoolhouse will offer Christmas crafts and gift items for sale. The items are made by a local group, the Creative Artists Guild of Kingsport.

Christmas music also plays an important part in the Inn’s festivities.

“On Friday evening, sisters Elizabeth and Caroline Burch will perform. On Saturday evening, Poplar Hill Reunion Band will perform and, on Sunday, the Ben Ellis Band will play. This band enjoys getting our guests to join in an old-fashioned sing-along,” Allen explained.

Tickets for this event are $10 with children 6 and under admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult. Tickets are available at the Visitors’ Center and at the door. For more information, call 423-677-3263. Proceeds from this fundraiser go toward the maintenance and restoration of the Netherland Inn and Boatyard Complex.

If you are visiting Netherland Inn on Sunday, plan to visit the neighboring historic Hammond House, 121 Shirley Street, which will also host a Christmas Open House on Dec. 11 from 2 until 4 p.m. The Victorian-era home will be decorated in period décor, and will feature carols by local favorites John and Joy Mullen, and Victorian-era refreshments. This is one of the few times of year when the Hammond House is opened to the public. It is located very near the Netherland Inn, offers a very different architectural and decorative perspective and is also decorated for Christmas by local Girl Scout troops. Admission to this home is free (donations gladly accepted). Call 423-245-5523 for more information.

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