House Museum plans ‘Jolly Folly Christmas’

Published 5:57 pm Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It will be a Jolly Folly Christmas at the Riddick’s Folly House Museum tomorrow.

The home’s historic inhabitants, the Riddick family, will be back to greet visitors to the home from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday. Tickets to the event are $3 per individual or $5 for a family of up to five people.

“This is to entertain as well as to educate,” said Robert Archer, first vice president on the Riddick’s Folly board of directors and special events chairman. “It’s basically to bring people into the house with a different attitude.”

Email newsletter signup

All four floors of the house will be open and hosting interpreters in period dress portraying the Riddick family and other characters. One special guest, Madeline Withers, is the wife of Mills Riddick’s great-great-great-grandson.

“She will be pointing out that new portrait of Mary Taylor Riddick and portraying one of the Riddick family members,” said Lee King, curator of Riddick’s Folly.

King referred to a painting of one of the home’s original occupants, which disappeared after the Civil War and recently was rediscovered in Massachusetts and brought home.

Mills Riddick built the home that is now known as Riddick’s Folly. A member of a large and prominent family in Suffolk, he served in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1829 and 1829. He built the home out of the ashes of the fire that ravaged the town in 1837.

During the Civil War, Union Maj. Gen. John J. Peck and his staff used the home as headquarters during their occupation. Penciled messages left on the walls by Union soldiers are still visible today. The soldiers stripped the home of most of the Riddicks’ possessions.

Riddick descendants continued to live in the home until 1967. Ten years later, the home was established as a house museum and facility for cultural events.

In addition to tours and “a little smidgen of history and a little drama,” Archer said, the event will feature harp music by Mary Margaret Jones, as well as light refreshments. The home is fully decorated for Christmas, King added. The event also will feature “surprise visits” that both Archer and King were reluctant to discuss.

“It is a fun tour,” Archer said. “We try to give you just a little bit of history and entertain you.”

Tickets can be purchased in advance at Riddick’s Folly, 510 N. Main St. For more information, call 934-0822.