|Holiday happenings at the David Davis Mansion|
|Written by Brandon James Smith Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Tuesday, 17 November 2009 23:15|
The holidays are a busy time for the staff at The David Davis Mansion, located in Bloomington. Starting on Nov. 4, the mansion has been hosting “Blessing of the Table: Thanksgiving at Clover Lawn,” which is the first of several upcoming tours at the historical site.
The mansion will be decorated in the way it would have looked when Davis’s wife, Sarah, lived there. Sarah Davis was from New England, where Thanksgiving is originally-based. When she moved to Bloomington, she was surprised to see that people in Illinois did not celebrate Thanksgiving the way they did back east.
“She’s one of the people responsible for bringing Thanksgiving and the knowledge of what it all entailed to Bloomington,” Marsha Young, site manager of the Davis Mansion, said. “So that’s what we’re celebrating, the way in which the family developed that as a tradition in Bloomington and celebrated it here in their home.”
The mansion is a Victorian home that was built sometime in the early 1870s for the family of Judge David Davis. Davis presided over many Illinois attorneys, including one named Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln and Davis hit it off quite well, with Davis eventually playing a prominent role in getting Lincoln the Republican nomination for President in 1860. In 1862, Lincoln appointed Davis to the Supreme Court. He eventually retired from the court and went on to become elected into the United States Senate.
“Davis had a long political career that was infamously tied-in with Lincoln’s political career,” Young said. “So there was the legal career they shared together and then the political career they shared together.”
The tour will last until Nov. 22, running Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Young said no appointments are necessary except for large groups and that the tour is free of charge.
Beginning on Nov. 27 and lasting until Jan. 3, the David Davis mansion will then be hosting their next program, “Christmas at Clover Lawn.” The tour is similar to the one for Thanksgiving but features a history of Christmas during the Victorian period.
“The Victorians invented a lot of the secular aspects of Christmas. Santa Clause, stockings and Christmas trees are all a Victorian invention and didn’t exist before the 19th century,” Young added.
Thirteen Christmas trees decorated in the styles of Victorian times will be showcased throughout the mansion along with various foods to sample in many of the mansion’s rooms.
“There will be a lot of things to pick up and look at, like ornaments, things they used to trim the trees and games children used to play with,” she said. “And food, lots of food.”
The home was donated by the Davis family to the state of Illinois in 1960 and it has been an Illinois historic site since 1966. The workers at the mansion are comprised of just a few staff members and many, many volunteers.
“We have a section of volunteers that give tours but then we also have a section of volunteers that just help plan for special events,” Chris Davis, a seasonal staff member of the David Davis Mansion, said.
Davis says volunteering at the mansion is a good experience for college students because it can be a lot of fun while learning about history and building a resume.
“We have certain volunteers as well who don’t like to do anything but decorate the house with us, so it’s an interesting way to see how everything is run through a museum like this,” he added.
Unlike the two previous events, “Christmas at the Mansions” is for one night only and includes a tour of four mansions located in Bloomington that will be decorated for Christmas.
The event, which will be held December 19, cost $10 if ordered in advance and $12 at the door. From there guests will take a tour of not only The David Davis Mansion, but The Vrooman Mansion, The Broadview Mansion and a “Mystery Mansion.” The “Mystery Mansion” is a privately owned home that the public usually never sees.
“It’s just an educational and fun time,” Young said.
For those looking for more information on the upcoming tours, visit daviddavismansion.org or call (309)828-1084.