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Celebrate Christmas in a small Victorian town

Experience Christmas in a small Victorian town with this special holiday tour in Bramwell. Filled with holiday spirit, all of the mansions are decorated for the season in shades of red and green. Luminaries line the brick streets, wreaths hang on the doors and decorated light posts cast a festive glow on the town.

On December 10, the homes of the millionaires will open up to the public in this once-a-year-treat. Bramwell was once the home to as many as 14 millionaires during the coal boom in southern West Virginia in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Tucked away in the mountains, the families of these coal operators lived lavish lives inside of their mansions. From ball rooms to Tiffany -stained  glass windows, they enjoyed a lifestyle of ease and comfort.

The stories of these families will be told on the night of the tour. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased one hour before the tour at the Presbyterian Church in the middle of town. There will be music and free refreshments.

The houses on this year’s tour include The Pack House, the Kate Hewitt House, the Jairus Collins House, the R.L. Parson/station master’s house and the John Cooper House. Afterwards, visit the museum at the train depot. We suggest wearing warm clothes and comfortable walking shoes. Also,bring a flashlight (or use the flashlight app on your smart phone) to navigate between homes.

The Pack house built by Buckeye Coal and Coke Company has oak columns separating the foyer and formal living room. The house overlooks the Bluestone River and is filled with antique furnishings from the turn of the century.  Family gatherings always took place at this home during Christmas.

In the Kate Hewitt House, the story is that Mrs. Hewitt had a special tree for every grandchild. On the huge mantel, there was a stocking for each grandchild and in the toe was a very special gift. One feature of the home is the beautiful dining room that held many Christmas dinners over the years.

Don’t be surprised, but the Jairus Collins house is painted purple! It is three stories with a rose patterned stained glass window in the foyer and the east side of the stairwell. The formal dining room features a crystal chandelier. You don’t want to miss the sunroom on the third floor! This house was built by Mr. Collins, who was a coal operator in the Pocahontas mine. He built his mansion for his family, a boy and a girl.

You might get a sample of homemade treats at the R.L. Parson/station master house, located above the depot. Mr. Parson was the station master and the mayor.  His wife was a schoolteacher  and they had one son.

Get in the car for one last stop at the John Cooper House, only 1 mile from the Presbyterian Church. This three-story house was once owned by the man who opened the first coal mine on the West  Virginia field for Pocahontas Coal. Cooper started working in a coal mine in England when he was only six years old.  He went on to become the president of the bank of Bramwell.  He died in 1899.

For more information about the Christmas Tour of Homes call the town of Bramwell at 304-248-7114 or the Mercer County CVB at 304-325-8438.


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