MANSFIELD — Mansfield’s own Gothic gem will kick off its holiday season this weekend.
Oak Hill Cottage is open April through December for docent-led tours. But during the Christmas season, the home takes on a special charm.
Alan Wigton of the Richland County Historical Society said volunteers have spent the week decorating the house for Christmas — but don’t expect to see string lights.
“We have slowly evolved to doing just Victorian ornaments,” he said. “The theme is Victorian, we try to fit the time period of the house.
John Robinson, superintendent of the Sandusky, Mansfield and Newark Railroad, built the home in 1847. It was a private home for more than a century.
The Richland County Historical Society purchased Oak Hill Cottage and its contents in 1965. It was restored and opened as a house museum in 1984.
The Gothic Revival style home features seven gables, five double chimneys and seven marble fireplaces.
Christmas at Oak Hill Cottage begins Nov. 19 and runs through the end of 2023. The mansion is open from 2 to 4:30 p.m. for guided tours every Sunday except Christmas Eve.
Meet the residents of Oak Hill during Ghosts of Christmas Past
On Dec. 2, the historical society will host its annual “Ghosts of Christmas Past” event. Local re-enactors will be on scene and dressed in period costume, portraying former residents of the house and sharing their stories. Doors are open from 5 to 7 p.m.
Wigton said it’s his favorite Oak Hill event of the year.
“All the volunteers love doing that,” he said. “It is the one time a year where we have the most people involved. We have people who do that each year and are not volunteers otherwise.”
Ghosts of Christmas Past is also the only night of the year when the public is allowed to take self-guided tours of the mansion.
“Guiding people through a tour like that is a little awkward when you’re trying to stay in character,” Wigton explained.
“We have a player piano in the basement. We used to have a little string quartet in the parlor. We have the lady playing the organ up in the hallway chapel. So we try to make it kind of like a party atmosphere.”
Reservations required for Gaslight Tours
On Dec. 8 and 15, Oak Hill will offer gaslight tours.
“It’s after dark and that’s its main feature,” Wigton said. “Your normal tours at Oak Hill are always in the daylight and that’s just half the experience at an old Victorian house.”
“We alter the tour a little bit to talk about gaslights themselves.”
Gaslight Tours are the only event at Oak Hill that require a reservation ahead of time. Interested parties should call 419-524-1765 and leave a message.
All events at Oak Hill Cottage cost $5 for adults and $1 for children under $12. Cash is preferred.
The Life & Culture section is powered by University Hospitals Samaritan Medical Center.