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Docents in colonial attire to guide visitors at Lansdowne


During Dec. 5-6 Urbanna Christmas Tour

The annual Urbanna Christmas Tour will be Saturday, December 5, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with some locations open again on Sunday, December 6, from noon to 4:30 p.m.

The 2009 tour will again feature a “designer showcase” home, “Walesa,” just outside of Urbanna on Old Virginia Street. This fabulous home overlooking beautiful Robinson’s Creek has never been open to the public before.

Featured designers at Walesa will include Annie Rooney, Mathews; Brad Stephens, Irvington; Chesapeake & Crescent, Kilmarnock; Cyndy’s Bynn, Urbanna; Garden Club, Urbanna; Interior Innovations, White Stone; Lewis Trimble, Kilmarnock; Make Thyme, Urbanna; Rolling Road Antiques, Urbanna; Snug Harbor Interiors, Mathews; and West End Antiques Mall, Richmond.

Also on the tour is the Historic Middlesex Courthouse (Woman’s Club), Old Tobacco Warehouse (Urbanna Visitor’s Center), and Lansdowne. All three are on Virginia Street.

Lansdowne, built about 1740, is one of the finest examples of the formal homes in Virginia during that period. The Flemish bond brickwork has glazed headers with scored oyster shell mortar joints.

There are eight fireplaces in the house with two being back to back corner fireplaces. The first floor fireplaces all have marble surrounds. The Italian marble fireplace in the main parlor has a 7-foot span and has been completely restored. The original heart-of-pine paneling remains in the home.

Ralph Wormeley III sold Lansdowne to Scottish merchant James Mills in 1763. In 1790 Arthur Lee bought Lansdowne as his retirement home and moved to Urbanna. Lee  served with Silas Deane and Benjamin Franklin on the Joint Commission to the Court of France where they were instrumental in convincing France to help finance arms for the American Revolution. He served in the Continental Congress from  1782-1785 and was influential in the revision of the laws of Virginia.

Following Lee’s death, Lansdowne was passed down to Richard Henry Lee, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and then to Francis Lightfoot Lee.

The house is in the process of being restored. This year docents in period costumes will be guiding you through Christmas as it may have been celebrated at Lansdowne from the 1700s to today.

Shuttle buses will be taking tour guests from Urbanna United Methodist Church directly to the tour sites. Parking will not be permitted at Walesa and entry to the property will be restricted to shuttle buses only. Free parking will be available at the church along with boxed lunches, free hot cider and cookies. The church also will have its annual bake sale.

Tickets are $15 and available in advance at the following Urbanna locations: Bristow’s Store, Cyndy’s Bynn, Papeterie, Make Thyme and The Wild Bunch; and in Richmond at the Hampton House on Grove and Libby. Tickets are also available the day of the tour only at Urbanna United Methodist Church.

The annual tour is sponsored by the Urbanna Beautification Committee, the House Tour Committee and the Urbanna Business Association. The money from the tour is given back to the town to be used for the beautification and renovation projects, which include new sidewalks, lamp posts, landscaping and benches.

Urbanna shops will be open along with area restaurants and local motels and bed and breakfasts for the convenience of visitors.

Visitors also can come early and enjoy the lighting of the town Christmas tree and the annual Urbanna Christmas Parade on Friday, December 4.

For more information, call the Town of Urbanna at 758-2613.

posted 11.24.2009

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