With December underway, the Old Governor’s Mansion is putting its best wreath forward in preparation for the rapidly approaching holiday season and their highly anticipated annual candlelight tours.
“It’s all hands on deck,” said Mansion Director Matt Davis in regards to the decorating process.
“Every segment of our community has a hand in this in some form or another–real community teamwork. So it’s a really good time of the year to be here.”
It takes over 200 volunteers comprised of Georgia College faculty, staff and students as well as dozens of community members to give the Mansion a holiday make over.
Even with all of that help, it takes a full two weeks to set up all decorations. 500 ornaments must be hung on a 30-foot tree. Bows and pine cones are strewn all around the Mansion, along with 24 wreaths that make all the Mansion’s 18 rooms look and feel like a genuine Victorian Christmas.
“Everything in the Mansion is ‘period plus,’ this meaning all of the decorations you see are in fact period accurate, but there are way more decorations than they would have had on hand back then,” said Emma Smith, one of the Mansion’s docents.
The Mansion staff strives to decorate with historical precision as well as capture the essence of Christmas.
Arrangements of exotic fruit displayed on each dining table and potted poinsettias represent the wealth and prestige Georgia’s governors enjoyed.
Giant garlands of pine needles, holly and bows line Italian marble replaces, and gingerbread men strung on ribbon in the kitchen are pleasing to the eyes as well as the nose.
Retired botany professor Dr. Harriett Whipple has been setting up Christmas decorations each year at the Mansion since the 1980s. Back then, GC presidents still used the Mansion as their place of residence. Every year, she brings her students to the Mansion as a community service opportunity.
Every December, the Mansion opens for a limited number of candlelit evenings tours, allowing people to experience the Mansion and get in the Christmas spirit. During the tours, choirs sing in the Mansion’s rotunda.
Although the candlelight tours don’t begin until Dec. 9, the Mansion staff still offers daily tours Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sundays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Sophomore Allison McClure, a psychology major, toured the Mansion on Dec. 2 and experienced the seasonal atmosphere.
“The Christmas decorations really made it feel festive,” McClure said. “The tree was magnifi
cent, and it was really great to get an inside look at how the governors would have spent Christmas with their families.”