By David Thornbury
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the White House not a creature was stirring except President Rutherford B. Hayes who had just settled in for a long Winters diary entry?? It’s true, President Hayes kept a diary from age 12 through his death at age 70, and from it we learn how he and First Lady Lucy Hayes celebrated Christmases though his detailed entries about how they spent time during this magical time of year.
Hayes even wrote letters during the holiday season to his uncle describing how he spent Christmases in the White House. The staff of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums in Fremont, Ohio have carefully read these diary entries and letters, and from this they have created the Hayes Home Holidays Spirits of Christmas experiences.
Visitors can step back in time to experience the magic and supernatural side of Christmas from December 18-23 with beloved Christmas stories, including “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, during an evening tour of parts of the historic Hayes Home.
Dickens, one of the most popular writers of the Victorian era, was a favorite author of President Hayes and lived at the same time as Hayes.
Hear Dickens’ beloved stories in Hayes’ Victorian mansion, which will be lightly decorated for Christmas. The Victorian people believed Christmas was a time when the portal to another world was opened, which made the holiday popular for telling ghost stories. Many of Dickens’ works, including Christmas stories, feature the supernatural.
Enjoy the warmth of the Hayes Home at night, a time when it is not often open to visitors and while it is decorated for the holiday. You will hear stories that will tingle your spine but leave you with a warm feeling. A cup of wassail, a traditional holiday drink during Victorian times, will also put you in the Christmas spirit.
Daily tours are offered at 5:30, 6:00, 6:30, 7:00, 7:30 and 8:00 pm. If those slots sell out, additional tours will be added. Tickets for Hayes Presidential members are $15 for adults 19 and older, $8 for ages 6-18 and free for kids 5 and younger.
Non-member tickets are $18 for adults ages 19 and older, $10 for kids 6-18 and free for kids 5 and younger. Advance tickets are recommended and can be purchased at rbhayes.org.
For those of you who prefer a more hands-on experience, you can dash through the snow at the wooded Hayes estate in a horse-drawn sleigh from December 26-31. Choose from rides through Spiegel Grove in a sleigh that can fit four people or gather a group and load up the trolley that can fit 16-18.
The rides are a nostalgic trip through the beautiful, wooded estate, past the historic Victorian Hayes Home and down Lover’s Lane, a favorite pine-tree-lined spot on the grounds. They are offered from 1:00 to 4:00 pm, with the last ride leaving at 3:45 pm. Tickets for the sleigh are $5.50 per rider ages 3 and older and free for ages 2 and younger. Trolley tickets are $4.50 for ages 3 and older and free for ages 2 and younger. Tickets can be purchased here–coming soon. They will also be sold at the front desk the days of the event, pending availability.
There is also a fantastic Holiday Model Train exhibit in the Museum and we encourage everyone to set aside some extra time for touring the museum while visiting for these holiday traditions.
Ready for a visit? Find out more about the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums at rbhayes.org. For information about events in Sandusky County, call 800-255-8070 or visit the website sanduskycounty.org.
Hayes Home Holidays Spirits of Christmas