‘A Jolly Folly Christmas’

Published 10:45 pm Friday, December 10, 2010

Latin lesson: An interpreter at the “Jolly Folly Christmas” at Riddick’s Folly on Friday portrays an 1800s tutor preparing a Latin lesson for the children of the Riddick household.

Visitors to a historic house Friday evening were transported into a 19th-century Suffolk Christmas celebration.

Dozens of attendees at Riddick’s Folly watched and listened as the Christmas party unfolded, complete with Nathaniel and Missouri Riddick as gracious hosts, children in pajamas and a special visit from Father Christmas.

“I’m kind of a history buff,” John Frazer admitted as he awaited his tour of the 1837 home. “This looked like something that would appeal to me very much.”

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Costumed interpreters in most of the home’s 21 rooms, told of all the drama and preparations of an 1800s Christmas party. In the parlor, the children rejoiced at being allowed to come downstairs because they did such a good job at their Christmas play. Upstairs, the children’s tutor ignored the festivities, instead concentrating on the next day’s Latin lesson. A 15-year-old girl carefully prepared her fancy blue dress for the celebration while fending off her younger sister’s complaints that she was not allowed to attend the party.

Through the interpreters and tour guide, guests learned the story of Riddick’s Folly. Mills Riddick built the home in 1837 after his old home burned in a devastating fire. Because the home was so large and local townspeople were not familiar with its Greek Revival style, they called it Riddick’s Folly.

After Mills Riddick’s death, his son Nathaniel became head of the household. During the Civil War, the house served as the headquarters of Maj. Gen. John J. Peck during the Union occupation of Suffolk.

Jay and MaryAlice Dorschel came to the “Jolly Folly Christmas” on Friday, because they had a friend who was serving as an interpreter and because they enjoy history.

“We came because it’s something that’s historical and worthy in Suffolk,” Jay Dorschel said.