Winter 2006

Litchfield, CT --
Contact: Janet L. Serra
Ph: 800-663-1273
For Immediate Release

Most of the year, visitors can only gaze longingly outside the beautiful homes in the classic towns in Connecticut's Litchfield Hills. But come the first two weekends in December, some of these houses open their doors for tours, a rare chance to see exceptional residences decked out in their holiday best in a region where almost every village green could adorn a Christmas card. For those who cannot make these dates, lavishly adorned historic homes await all season, offering decorating inspiration and a healthy dose of holiday cheer.


December 2 marks the 10th anniversary of the Holiday House on the Hill Tour sponsored by the Quota International Club of Bristol. The self-guided tour includes several of the finest residences in the Federal Hill Historic District, where prominent manufacturers and businessmen once built their mansions on the hill overlooking the town. Many of the beautiful homes date from the Victorian era of the 1880s and 1890s. House Tour hours are 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; tickets are $15.00 and are available at several Bristol merchants and the Bristol Chamber of Commerce on Main Street. Tickets will be sold on the day of the tour at the American Clock and Watch Museum on Maple St. in Bristol. The Museum and the Bristol Historical Society will be open free of charge on the day of the house tour. For more information, call 860-584-8255.


The 12th Annual Woodbury House Tour sponsored by the Women?s Club of Woodbury takes place on December 9th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. This year's house tour includes several of the finest homes both old and new in this picturesque community where the main street was laid out in the 1670s. Tickets are $25 on the day of the tour or $20 if purchased in advance by mail from the Women's Club of Woodbury, P.O. Box 1014, Woodbury, CT 06798. Include a stamped, self-addressed envelope. For more information, call 203-263-4781. On the day of event, tickets can be purchased at the Woodbury Middle School, 14 School Street. In case of inclement weather, December 10th is the snow date for this holiday house tour.


For most of the season, historic house museums beckon with lavish decorations and old-time Christmas cheer. In Derby, the Osborne Homestead Museum (203- 734-2513) adjacent to the Osbornedale State Park will feature changes in Christmas traditions over the years and major events in American history. Each room in the gracious home of the late Francis Osborne Kellogg will showcase a decade from the 1870s to the 1950s. Guided tours, will take place Thursday through Sunday, November 24 to December 17 from 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. The house is even more magical when it is lit for twilight tours held on Fridays, December 1, 8, and 15 from 4 p.m. through 6:30 p.m..

The Keeler Tavern Museum (203-438-5485; in Ridgefield will be aglow with holiday decor all through December. Costumed guides lead tours through the handsomely decorated tavern built in 1713. Hours are Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. An annual Keeler Tavern holiday treat is the schedule of Christmas Luncheons held in the elegant Garden House designed by noted architect Cass Gilbert, who transformed the property into his summer home back in 1907. The popular luncheons will be held twice daily from Tuesday, December 5th to Friday, December 8th. An elegant tea with savories, sweets, and musical entertainment will take place at noon and 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 9th. A Holiday Boutique will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. during days when lunches and teas are scheduled.

Victorian-era garlands of greenery, wreaths, floral arrangements, red bows, glass beads and poinsettias will fill Torrington's Hotchkiss-Fyler House Museum, (860- 482-8260; a 1900 mansion. Several lavish trees will be on display throughout the house, with a display of antique toys gathered beneath the boughs in the parlor. The dining room table will be set for Christmas dinner with the exquisite linens, china, crystal, and silverware that belonged to the late owner of the house, Gertrude Fyler Hotchkiss. Hostesses will be on hand to point out the finery during the Christmas Open House dates, Saturday, December 9th through Friday, December 29th (except for December 24 and 25) Tues.-Fri. 10-4 and Sat. and Sun. 12 - 4.

For more information about house tours and other December events in the Litchfield Hills of Northwest Connecticut and to receive a free copy of UNWIND, a 112-page color guide to lodging, dining and other attractions, contact the Northwest CT Convention and Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4506 or check the Internet at