By Nicole Lemal
Times West Virginian
Earlier this year, guests gathered at the Woman’s Club mansion for a Victorian Tea.
Soon, guests will be welcomed back into the mansion, which will be decorated for the Christmas holiday season, for another tea.
But this time there is a bit of a twist.
On Saturday, Dec. 8, the Woman’s Club mansion will host a “Tea with a Twist.” Guests can warm up with a cup of tea, relax and enjoy Italian pastries inside the historic mansion that is more than 100 years old.
“It’s been a beacon to the community, and that area, the Southside neighborhood, has several outstanding homes and it is really the last residential neighborhood that is close to downtown,” president Nancy Bickerstaff said. “It’s within a step or two of the bridge, and that makes it all the more special.”
Recent restoration of the mansion makes Woman’s Club members all the more ecstatic to show it off. Plastering was completed. Screen doors were replaced. Pocket doors were fixed. Bathrooms were restored.
“You name it, it was broken,” Bickerstaff said. “We did not change anything. The historic integrity of the home has been maintained, and we had so many people that came in and really helped us do so many of the things we had to do.”
All three levels of the floor will be open for the tour, and ladies of the Woman’s Club will answer questions on all floors. The event will be held in conjunction with the Feast of the Seven Fishes as well as Pricketts Fort and the Marion County Historical Society Museum.
Compared to the Victorian Tea in March, this event will be asking everyone to join in “and let the holidays begin” in what will be a winter wonderland.
“The community has just been so kind to us with the Thomas and Annie Fleming Memorial Fund and with donations,” Bickerstaff said. “I think it’s real nice to get the town together, and people get to talk and greet each other and see that we have accomplished something.”
Admission is $5, but reservations are needed to assure there is enough tea, pizzelles, nutrolls and other Italian pastries for everyone.
Bickerstaff is eager to show off the recent renovations.
“With so many wonderful buildings in Fairmont being torn down or neglected, it will be just really a highlight for the Christmas season because we will be able to feature a wonderful 1901 mansion that did not go to a wrecking ball or rack and ruin,” she said.
Decorated in its Christmas glory, the mansion will don reds and golds. The stairway will stand out with an array of decorations and colors. Poinsettias will be set around the three fireplaces in the dining area. Several six-foot trees will be displayed throughout the mansion as well.
“Every floor will be decorated in its Christmas finery,” Bickerstaff said.
One of the few Christmas trees in the mansion will be decorated entirely in red roses, the symbol of the National Woman’s Club. A tree will also be on the third floor of the mansion, something Woman’s Club member Mary Jo Thomas is eager for this year after the recent work done. Set on a timer, the tree will be displayed in front of the three windows in the living room on the third floor overlooking the town.
“People will be able to see it from all over, so we’ll want them to look for it because we will put a tree there and that will be answering (Thomas’) wish because she wanted that for a long time,” Bickerstaff said.
Nearly every room will be decorated for the Christmas holidays, including the children’s room.
“When they were little, they used to play with their toys and they would hide them,” Bickerstaff said. “There are doors under the stairwell and they hid their toys, put their toys away and then when they would play, they would get those toys out. I think that’s kind of special.”
It will be a sneak peek into the past that is now up to par thanks to the restoration.
“It is going to be outstanding,” Bickerstaff said.
Members are encouraged to bring homemade cookies to the event. To make reservations, call 304-366-3231 or 304-363-9414 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email Nicole Lemal at email@example.com.