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Volume 1, Issue 13, December 22, 2016
Seasons Greetings to All...
I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Soon, the hustle and bustle of preparing for the holidays will give way to enjoying the festivities with family and friends. During this time of year, many historic house museums have decorations and special events that celebrate the season. This issue features two of those, both from the 19th century.

My new website is up. It looks like the old one but was just enough different that it took a few days to finish.
Cynthia Collins
Cynthia Collins  
Winterthur Yuletide - Montmorenci staircaseWinterthur, the large estate in the Brandywine Valley region of Delaware, was the home of several generations of the wealthy du Pont family. What began as a 12-room house built in 1837 expanded over time to 175 rooms. Visitors can see the mansion decorated for the Christmas season and other exhibits as part of the annual Yuletide at Winterthur through Jan. 8, 2017.
The man responsible for turning this family home into a museum was Henry Francis (H. F.) du Pont (1880-1969). There are many Christmas trees and winter floral arrangements throughout the house which reflect his expertise in horticulture. After studying it and agriculture at Harvard, his father put him in charge of improving and designing the formal gardens. That led to management of the entire estate and eventually to ownership.
Winterthur exteriorIn the 1920s, du Pont became an avid collector of American antiques, decorative arts and architectural elements. He then spent 20 years making the house a museum. When Winterthur Museum opened to the public in 1951, he and his family moved into a smaller house on the property. Today, Winterthur continues to be recognized as having one of the finest collections of American decorative arts.

Lyndhurst at ChristmasLyndhurst is an American Gothic Revival mansion built in 1838 in Tarrytown, NY, overlooking the Hudson River. Its size, including the grounds and outer buildings, takes visitors back to a time of American aristocracy of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Special tours of the mansion’s lavish Christmas decorations will be available through Dec. 30. The holiday festivities also offer a re-creation of Charles Dickens’ 1867 tour in the U. S. telling the story of A Christmas Carol.
Lyndhurst exteriorThe first owner of the mansion was the man who had it built, William Paulding, the former mayor of New York. The architect was A. J. Davis who was also the architect who doubled the size of the mansion for the second owner, George Merritt, a wealthy merchant. A few years after Merritt’s death, the estate was purchased by railroad tycoon, Jay Gould.
Upon Gould’s death, Lyndhurst went first to his daughter, Helen, then after her death to his younger daughter, Anna. It was Anna who donated the estate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation and included her clothing. Some of her dresses are part of the mansion’s holiday tours.


The Unicorn Tree
The Unicorn Tree by Cynthia Collins

A teenage girl whose brother is lost at sea –

The diary of a nineteenth-century woman –

And the special place that binds them…

For reviews, excerpts, and summary, see

The Unicorn Tree is listed on the 2016 Winter Reading List of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators  (SCBWI) under grades 9-12.

Ghost story and maritime adventure...
Available at
Photo credit: Winterthur staircase at Christmas and exterior: courtesy of Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. Lyndhurst at Christmas and exterior: courtesy of Lyndhurst.

All articles in this newsletter are by Cynthia Collins. The featured historic site section contains general information. The other articles may not be reprinted without written permission. Subscriber lists are not sold or given to any third parties and historic sites are not charged for being featured. To suggest historic sites for future issues, request article reprint permission, or any comments/questions regarding this newsletter, please contact Cynthia Collins.
Copyright © 2016 Cynthia Collins, All rights reserved.

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