Riddick’s Folly plans special tour

Published 7:00 pm Saturday, December 5, 2009

History will come to life inside Riddick’s Folly next weekend, as Suffolk’s only house museum presents “The Twelve Rooms of Christmas.”

Music, drama and history will provide the background for candlelight tours of the museum from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $3 each or $5 per family (limit of six) and are available in advance or at the door.

The event will provide “a really fun way to interact with the history of the house,” according to Robert Archer, a member of the Riddick’s Folly board of directors and the organizer for the weekend event.

“It’s a light way of getting a history lesson and making history come alive.”

The lightness of the event will be in contrast to the weightiness of the issues that were addressed during a Christmas-season event last year that featured weighty discussions of political issues from the history of America and the South.

This year, Archer said, organizers agreed, “Let’s keep it light.”

Those attending will have a chance to interact with costumed interpreters who will portray Judge and Mrs. Riddick, as well as various family members and friends stationed throughout the 12 rooms of the home that have been chosen for the special tour.

Among the people to be portrayed are a children’s tutor; a nanny; several children, including Henley, the precocious youngest Riddick son; a Union and a Confederate soldier, who will converse with each other, as if across a stream; the judge and his wife; and Auntie Taylor, who will be seen “fussing about the table” in the dining room, which will be set as if for a traditional Christmas meal.

Archer said the entire home will be decorated for the holidays, with lots of pine, cedar, holly and magnolia greenery, along with homemade decorations and a punched-tin star on the Christmas tree.

One of the city’s garden clubs has been helping with the decorating, Archer said.

Except for the rooms dealing with the Civil War, the setting will be the Riddick house of the 1860s, and both guides and interpreted characters will help visitors get a feel for what things would have been like in the home at that time.

The tour, Archer said, will be shorter than the 45-minute one that visitors usually get when they stop at Riddick’s Folly, which includes all 16 rooms, along with a full history of the house and its namesake family.

“This is totally new,” he said of this year’s Christmas-season event. “What we’re doing this time is a totally different concept. We’ll give you enough information to make you want to come back.”