2013-12-13 / Columnists

Go Parks: Go Holidays!

By Cequyna Moore

It’s December in New York City and all the holiday traditions and activities we know and love are here: the unbeatable Radio City Musical Hall Holiday Spectacular, festive store windows along Fifth Avenue, ice skating at Rockefeller Center under the giant tree, and the list goes on and on. But did you know there are 23 houses that span 350 years of New York City history and are open to the public, thanks to NYC Parks and the Historic House Trust?

The Historic House Trust works with Parks and the non-profit boards of each house to restore, interpret, and share these remarkable sites, which span 350 years of New York City life. Collectively, the 23 houses, which reside in parks across the five boroughs, elegantly represent New York City and America’s history in microcosm—from New York's beginnings as a Dutch outpost, through the American Revolution, to its rise as a mercantile center and great 21st-century city. Each house tells the story of a family or era, letting visitors experience how Americans really lived their lives in the past.

As the year winds down, these historic houses buzz with activity. From shopping to theatrical performances to tea tastings and, of course, open houses, they are guaranteed to have something for everyone!

If you are looking for ways to outfit your home with holiday essentials, visit the Queens County Farm Museum. Now until December 24th Christmas trees, wreaths, and poinsettias are available for sale. From December 26th – December 28th, stop by to enjoy tours and mulled cider from 12 p.m.-4 p.m. Admission is free.

For a glimpse on how the holidays were celebrated in the past, look no further than Hands-On History Day at the King Manor Museum in Jamaica, Queens! On December 14th from 12 p.m.-3 p.m., make snowflakes and other seasonal decorations. This event is free and open to the public.

Experience the joy of tea at the Historical Tea Tastings workshop at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in Washington Heights, Manhattan. On December 14th from 2 p.m.-4 p.m., increase your basic understanding of tea with food pairings and proper preparation. During the workshop, you will have the chance to create your own holiday custom blends to give as gifts. Tickets for the tasting are $25. After the tastings, enjoy Renaissance and Baroque works by the Mansion’s ensemble-in-residence, Brooklyn Baroque from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Tickets for the performance are $25. Advanced registration for the events is required.

Would you like to reconnect with nature during the holiday season? Escape to the Bronx’s Bartow-Pell Mansion for bird watching. On December 21st from 2:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m., search for the legendary owls that return year after year to harbor in the pines and woods around the Mansion. To reserve your space, please call 718- 885-1461 or email info@bpmm.org. Tickets are $10; seniors, students, & members $8.

No holiday season is ever complete without Charles Dickens. On December 20th at 7:30 p.m., join John Kevin Jones at the Merchant’s House Museum in Lower Manhattan for a unique retelling of the holiday classic A Christmas Carol. Tickets are $37.50 and available at christmascarolnyc.bpt.me or by calling BrownPaperTickets.com at 1-800-838-3066.

This is merely a sampling. Visit www.historichousetrust.org or www.nyc.gov/parks/historichouses to learn more. Cequyna Moore is the Administrative Coordinator of Historic House Trust.

Go Park! Go Visit!
Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum
Pelham Bay Park, 895 Shore
Road, Bronx, NY 10464 (718)
885-1461, www.bpmm.org

King Manor Museum:
150th Street and Jamaica
Avenue, Jamaica, NY 11432,
(718) 206-0545,
www.kingmanor.org.

Merchant’s House Museum:
29 East 4th Street, New York, NY
10003, (212)777-1089, www.merchantshouse.org.

Morris-Jumel Mansion:
65 Jumel Terrace at 160th Street,
New York, NY 10032, (212) 923-
8008, www.morrisjumel.org.

Queens County Farm Museum:
73-50 Little Neck Parkway Floral
Park, NY 11004 (718) 347-FARM,
www.queensfarm.org.

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