Hills and Dales Estate opens Saturday with a holiday theme, celebrating the legacy of Christmas at the historic Callaway home.
Hills and Dales, built in 1916 and home to three generations of the Callaway family, will host Christmas events and showcase the house’s history for the Christmas season.
Carleton Wood, executive director of Hills and Dales Estate, said staff want the home to look around Christmas when the last generation of children were growing up there – Fuller Callaway III and Ida Cason Callaway. That includes the home’s Christmas tree styled in 1940s-era decorations, like metal tinsel and large, colored incandescent lights.
New this year will be items under the tree lent by a West Point resident who collects vintage toys. Metal-fabricated toy trains and trucks will sit with boxed presents in the display.
The dinner table also will be set for a Callaway family Christmas dinner. Visitors may even get a taste of Callaway tradition.
“This year, we’re using Mrs. Callaway’s recipe for tea cookies,” Wood said. “It adds the smell of baking cookies from the kitchen.”
Staff also are using the record collection of Alice Callaway to play some Christmas tunes from the original source. The records were being digitally recorded from the original vinyl records to playback as visitors tour the home.
“We’re trying to show the house as it was,” Wood said.
Unlike many places that begin decorating early, decorations for Hills and Dales began right before its holiday tours, because staff use tree trimmings for garlands and wreaths.
“Everything is real,” Wood said. “It’s the fragrance of Christmas. We use fraser firs and pine trees and try to keep everything in a traditional manner.”
Poinsettias are out in force, but visitors may notice that the ones at the home are mostly pink, not the more common red. Wood said it comes from a story Ida Callaway told him about her mother.
“She didn’t like the color red,” Wood said. “She wanted pink, so we always have a few red, which Mrs. Callaway said could represent those brought her red poinsettias by mistake.”
Red poinsettias are common at the visitor’s center, though, which is where several activities will be held for the holiday season. For the last several years, the visitor’s center has hosted a Childrens Christmas Celebration, which have drawn big crowds, Wood said.
This year’s annual celebration is set for Dec. 15, where children may decorate gingerbread houses at 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Last year, staff had 225 pre-made gingerbread houses ready for children to decorate, and ran out. This year, they have 250 ready.
Santa also will greet youngsters from 10 to 11 a.m. At 11 a.m., Debbie Burdette as Mama Jama will tell Christmas stories and music teacher Robin Treadwell will host a holiday sing-a-long. Cider and cookies will be available.
The events are free.
Hills and Dales Estate is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $15 per person and includes exhibits and a video in the visitor center, guided tours of the home, and a self-guided tour of the greenhouse and five-acre formal boxwood gardens. Audio garden tours are also available.
Discounts are offered for groups of 12 or more, active military and students, and group guided garden tours can be arranged. The estate also offers an annual pass, educational programs, a unique gift shop and hosts special events.
For more information visit www.hillsanddales.org, call 706-882-3242 or visit the Facebook page.