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Mulberry Hill Plantation to hold Christmas open house

The “halls are decked,” and the “trees are trimmed” at historic Mulberry Hill Plantation in Randolph.  Mulberry Hill is the backdrop for the 2013 Antebellum Christmas Open House hosted by the Staunton River Battlefield State Park and the Historic Staunton River Foundation, Inc.  The plantation is the ancestral home of the Virginia Carrington family.  

Among those who walked these venerable buildings and grounds were prominent founders of our nation: politicians, lawyers, war heroes and successful planters.  

The namesake, Mulberry Hill, was derived from Judge Paul Carrington’s endeavor to raise silk worms, which fed on the overabundant mulberry trees located throughout the rolling fields and acres.  

The manor dates back to the mid 1700s.  Its outbuildings, law office, and grounds provide a perfect timeline of history and culture for interpreting the life of a successful colonial family that with their progeny encompassed more than 200 years of history in Southside Virginia.

Most notably, the house served as headquarters for the advancing Federal Army during the Battle of Staunton River Bridge in 1864.  In 2003, the descendants of Judge Paul Carrington donated the house and an impressive collection of furnishings, documents, pictures and accessories to the Commonwealth of Virginia so that all could enjoy and learn.  

Several years ago, it was the dream of the Historic Staunton River Foundation, the 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation, promotion and development of the Staunton River Battlefield State Park, to host a Christmas-themed open house so that this historic home, its impressive contents and its unique story could be told and enjoyed.  This year marks the 11th year of the Antebellum Christmas Open House.  It is held each year during the first weekend of December. 

Parking is available at the Depot in downtown Randolph, and a free shuttle service will usher visitors to and from the Plantation.  

Once at the Plantation, Nancy McPhail, the woman of the house who bravely protected her home and family from the Union Army during the War Between the States, will greet visitors at her home.  From that warm and cheerful greeting, visitors will be given a tour of her home meeting some of her relatives, seeing the Carrington family heirlooms and hearing some family stories and legends along the way.  

Period refreshments will be provided along with a complete and formal setting of a “Christmas meal” in the dining room.  Interpretative recipes will be provided.  

In addition, Dr. Charles Davis will demonstrate the unique art of “box-making;” and his granddaughter will be on hand to provide first-person demonstrations of the “spinning wheel.”  

Tim Owen will be in the parlor playing period Christmas tunes and melodies on his array of stringed instruments.  In the front yard, fresh Confederate troops from the era will be bivouacked to provide visitors with a glimpse into the hardships of war and camp life.  

This unique first-person interpretation will provide visitors with a foretaste into a working Antebellum Plantation at the turn of the war.  In addition, Stephen Walker will portray, in first-person, Judge Paul Carrington in his law office.  

The public is invited to come out and share in the yuletide and cheer of the beginning of the holiday season by making plans to attend the Antebellum Christmas Open House at Mulberry Hill on either Saturday or Sunday, Dec. 7-8 from 1 to 4 p.m.   Don’t forget the cameras. 

Admission is $5 per person, and children under 6 are admitted free.  Tickets are only valid for the one-day pass and can be purchased at the Roanoke Station Depot in Randolph.  

The event will be held at 3263 Roanoke Station Road/River Road, Randolph, (Staunton River Battlefield State Park Visitor Center/Roanoke Station Depot) and Mulberry Hill Plantation on Mulberry Hill Road in Randolph. 

The money raised from this event will go toward fulfilling the foundation’s mission of supporting the Battlefield State Park and its continued restoration efforts at Mulberry Hill.  The foundation is exclusively operated by a dedicated group of volunteers and its yearly dues-paying members. Anyone interested in joining the foundation or who would like to volunteer with this event or future events may call 434-454-6219.   

Also, visit the foundation’s Facebook or website at  The Staunton River Battlefield State Park is managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation.