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Dickens of a Christmas 2018
December 7 - December 9
London-themed holiday fun, food and drink return to downtown Chestertown on December 7 through 9 for the second annual “Dickens of a Christmas” festival. Organized by Main Street Chestertown, the weekend offers a holiday house tour, strolling entertainers, live music, fire-dancing, old-fashioned children’s games, antique bicycles, horse-drawn carriage rides, firepits with S’mores, street theater, a London Row of vendors selling handcrafted goods and traditional British foods, and a “Run Like the Dickens” 5K race and walk. New for 2018 are the renowned Celtic band The American Rogues, an unbelievable flea circus, dazzling stilt walkers, an authentic and rousing Magic Lantern Christmas Show, an enlightening talk by Pulitzer-Prize winning book critic Michael Dirda, and a Garfield Center for the Arts production of the play ”Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol.”
The public is encouraged (but not required) to “dress like the Dickens” in Victorian garb for the weekend. For information and schedule updates, visit dickenschestertown.org.
“Dickens of a Christmas” House Tour
The owners of eight historic homes in the heart of Chestertown’s Historic District will welcome visitors from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 8 at this year’s Dickens of a Christmas House Tour.
Custom wreaths by the Chestertown and All Seasons Garden Clubs and live music at several homes complete the festive atmosphere of this distinctively Dickens house tour. Following the tour, participants will have ample time to partake of the other fun, food and festivities offered during Chestertown’s second annual Dickens of a Christmas event.
Reservations are required for entry. Tickets are $30 and are available only through the online ticketing service Eventbrite. Visit Eventbrite.com and search for Chestertown Dickens of a Christmas house tour. Sponsored by the nonprofit Main Street Chestertown, volunteers Nancy and Zane Carter serve as chairman of the event.
Here’s a brief description of the 2018 homes:
Commissioned by Charles H. Baker in 1876, the home of renowned artist Mary Pritchard is unlike its Victorian contemporaries, with a stylistic simplicity reminiscent of an earlier age. An eclectic mix of modern art, antique furniture, oriental rugs and old quilts make this house a home, and the tour also includes a small barn that houses the artist’s studio.
Patricia and Vic Pfeiffer’s thoughtful 2007 renovation of this late 19th century house incorporated many green building features, including control and capture of all rainwater runoff. The side yard with garden leads to a shared barn and welcoming porch entrance to the contemporary interior, which features an open floor plan and unique decor of antique and Asian furniture and accessories.
One of the oldest houses in Chestertown, the Bedingfield Hands House was built around 1750 on a property that ran from High Street to Cannon Street. The woodwork, staircase with “fancy” bannister, fireplaces, wood walls, stunning wood floors, and magnificent 12-over-12 windows all are original to the house, now the home of Pam White.
Jenn Laucik Baker and John Laucik are two modernists who swapped their mid-century glass and concrete home for this 100+ year old house, which they have lovingly restored while having fun with lighting, art, and color in a bright and bold balance of old meets new. They purchased the home in 2015, only a month after opening Chester River Wine and Cheese on South Cross Street.
Circa 1860, the Nelly Mills House originally was two small connected homes with two rooms per residence and a common coal stove in the center of the first floor for heat. Today this charming abode of Tom and Sharon Herz features a mix of modern amenities and period furniture, with the two original front doors offering visitors a double welcome.
Built in 1857, the fully restored Captain James F. Taylor House is one of the best Italianate style houses in Chestertown and retains its detailed cupola, rich series of ornamental brackets under the eaves, lyre pattern balustrade, and bold double doors with sidelights and transom. The interior is furnished with William Creager’s collections of antique and vintage furniture, art, glassware and ceramics.
Fannie Shenk’s circa 1740 Levi Rodgers House once was the site of the Cape May Saloon oyster house, where – according to Chestertown legend – the late jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald once sang. Current restoration and additions were designed by Virginia architect Peter Wren, direct descendant of Sir Christopher Wren, famous 17th century English architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
The eighth house on the tour is a renovation of a structure that has stood since the early 1900s in an area known as Scott’s Point, once home to a large free African American community. Today Marjorie and Walter Adams’ home has a modern floor plan, kitchen with wood-burning oven (featured in Better Homes and Gardens magazine), original floors upstairs, exterior workshop, and a porch constructed of 200-year-old hand hewn timbers found on the property.
The house tour is part of a three-day “Dickens of a Christmas” festival inspired by Charles Dickens’ beloved novella “A Christmas Carol” and sponsored by Main Street Chestertown, whose volunteers work to foster an inviting, diverse and prosperous downtown. Set in Chestertown’s historic district, the festival will celebrate the season with live music, carriage rides, Victorian food and drink, costumed characters, strolling performers, and more. For more information, visit dickenschestertown.org.