Franklin Countys First News

Christmas at Norlands: A 19th century holiday celebration

Sleigh Rides (or wagon rides, depending on weather conditions), are always a highlight of Christmas at Norlands. Here, Israel Martel, portrayed by Norlands' farm manager Ray Fleury, drives the sleigh. Martel was a hired hand and caretaker for the Washburn family.

Ann Gibbs, neighbor to the Washburns in the 1800s and portrayed by Norlands' interpreter Anne Feith, bakes gingerbread in the original 1867 kitchen. Photo by Ryan Burnham of Leeds.

LIVERMORE - The Washburn-Norlands Living History Center will open on Saturday, Dec. 9 for a family-friendly interactive Christmas celebration. Doors open at 11 a.m.

Experience a rural Christmas in the 19th century and participate in living history activities around this beautiful and tranquil estate. Journey back to a time when celebrations were much simpler than they would become in the 20th century.

Activities include horse-drawn sleigh/wagon rides, caroling, children’s craft activities, storytelling, parlor games, one-room schoolhouse, and tours of the simply yet elegantly decorated 1867 Washburn family mansion. Warm up with a cup of soup, a mug of mulled cider or hot chocolate, and a sweat treat in the farmer’s cottage while supplies last

Visitors can partake in an old-fashioned spelling bee in the one-room schoolhouse, offered at noon and at 2:30 p.m.

Stop by “Gramps Room” in the Washburn mansion to meet “Martha Washburn Stephenson,” portrayed by Willi Irish, Norlands’ director of interpretation. The eldest of the Washburn daughters, Martha will share stories about her father and siblings using their own words from the family journals.

The gift shop will be open and filled with unique treasures to meet your holiday shopping needs. Pottery by Sarah Delaney/Phoenix Pottery, jewelry by Bruce Peary of Pearls in the Pines, Norlands own maple syrup, and old-time games are just a few of the items showcased in the shop.

A Cookie Walk fundraiser benefits the new barn fund. For only $5, fill a bag with delicious homemade cookies to take home. Arrive early as this popular fundraiser sells out early.

Experience the joyous feeling of an old-fashioned winter celebration that will no doubt carry you through the season.

General admission is $10 per person; $6 ages 12 and under; free for ages 5 and under. $25 family rate for 2 adults with up to three children under the age of 18. Open from 11am to 4pm. Tickets will be sold at the door or may be purchased online at

The Washburn-Norlands Living History Center is located at 290 Norlands Road in Livermore. For more information, call 207-897-4366 or visit

If the weather is questionable, please check for an event cancellation notice on Norlands’ webpage, Facebook page or outgoing telephone message by calling 207-897-4366 by 9am on the morning of the event.

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