The Woman’s Club of West Milford is putting the finishing touches on its annual Victorian Christmas displays at the Ringwood Manor.
“Forty-seven years, I think, the Woman’s Club has been decorating the manor for the holidays,” said Tina Ree, President of the Woman’s Club. “We try to do it different every year.”
The holiday displays will be open to the public over the next two weekends, Dec. 7-8 and Dec. 14-15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with knowledgeable volunteers on hand to provide information on the manor’s history.
There will also be a gift shop set up at the manor where visitors can purchase handmade Christmas decorations, and three new rooms have been added to the display this year as well.
“The breakfast room, the butler’s pantry, and the kitchen are new,” Ree said.
Visitors are invited to spend as much time as they want in each room and all of the rooms featured in the event contain holiday displays along with original furniture, rugs, china, artwork, etc.
The Victorian Christmas is a combined fundraising effort of the Woman’s Club of West Milford, the North Jersey Highlands Historical Society, and the Ringwood Manor Association of the Arts.
The event offers visitors a chance to experience what Christmas was like in the early 1800’s at the historical manor, which dates back to 1807.
That’s when Martin J. Ryerson purchased the historic ironworks on the site before he began building the first section of the present manor in 1810.
The Ryerson’s house and property were eventually purchased by Peter Cooper, who had an iron business managed by his son and his son’s partner, Abram S. Hewitt.
Cooper & Hewitt was one of the most important iron businesses in the country during the pre and post-Civil War era, but by the end of the 19th century it was no longer a major player in the industry.
The site gradually turned into the summer estate of the Hewitt's, one of 19th-century America’s wealthiest and most influential families, who made numerous additions to the manor.
The Hewitt's were also avid collectors and much of the artwork and furniture as well as many of the artifacts that they collected during their extensive trips around the world can still be seen at the manor.
There’s also a vast collection of American Civil War weapons, which was a gift from the U.S. War Department for all the work Cooper & Hewitt did for the Union Army during the war, according to organizers.
The family donated the manor and all its contents to the state in 1938.
Ree credited Ringwood Manor historian Sue Shutte with helping to prepare the manor for the Victorian Christmas event.
“Sue does a lot of work before we come in,” Ree said. “She does a wonderful job.”
The Victorian Christmas costs $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and $5 for children ages 5-12.
Go to www.ringwoodmanor.org or call (973) 749-6041 for more information.