Bartow-Pell celebrates the Christmas season

A Raggedy Andy-themed Christmab tree at Bartow-Pell’s Storybook Christmas Tree display in 2012, designed by Bryant Keller.
Photo by by Marco Ricca, courtesy of the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum

The halls of the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum will be decked with Christmas cheer this December.

The museum is hosting a series of holiday events the first two weekends of the month that will offer visitors a taste of a 19th Century Christmas, said museum director Ellen Bruzelius.

The heart of the holidays at Bartow-Pell is their Storybook Christmas Tree display, now in its fourth year. Each decorated tree is inspired by a specific children’s holiday book by an interior designer, and the trees are placed throughout the rooms of the mansion.

The designers’ interpretations of the books are sophisticated, and delight both young and old, said Bruzelius.

“The idea was to do something that appeals not only to children but also to adults,” she said.

The trees will be on full display at the mansion’s Annual Holiday Family Day: A Storybook Christmas on Saturday, December 6, 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Storytelling at will take place 10:15 a.m. and noon—and if the kids enjoy the books from the displays, they will be available for purchase at Bartow-Pell’s holiday shop.

The museum wanted to offer the opportunity for families to come together around books, said Bruzelius.

“We want to pass along, in a really fun way, the joy of books and of reading,” she said.

The family day will also feature caroling by the Morrisania Glee Club at 11 a.m., holiday crafts, and photos with Santa, for an additional fee. Space is limited and registration is required, call (718) 885-1461 or email info@‌

The following weekend, the mansion will host Bronx Arts Ensemble Holiday Concerts on Saturday, December 13, 1 and 3 p.m. and Sunday, December 14, 1 and 3 p.m. Concerts are free, but tickets are required. Call Bronx Arts Ensemble at (718) 601-7399 for tickets.

The emphasis on music keeps with the historical tradition of the museum, said Bruzelius.

“Music would have been very much a part of how the Bartow family celebrated Christmas,” said Bruzelius.

Both history and music are on full display at one of the season’s feature events, the Holiday Candlelight Tours and Victorian Carolers on Saturday, December 13, 6–8 p.m.

The festive nights includes Victorian carolers, holiday snacks and wassail—a mulled cider drink—and costumed docents on hand to highlight 19th-century holiday traditions. Reservations are also required.

“It’s a very fun thing for families to come and get a sense of what holidays might have been like in another century,” said Bruzelius.

For those unable to attend any of the numerous holiday events, the Storybook Christmas Trees will be on display in the museum through January 7, said Bruzelius. The mansion is open to the public for guided tours on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m., with the exception of special event days and Christmas Eve.

Bruzelius urged Bronxites to come and see the museums transformation for themselves.

“The holidays at the mansion is an incredibly special time,” said Bruzelius. “It feels warm and festive.”

For more information about additional events at the museum, visit

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at 718-260-4591. E-mail her at jwill‌iams@‌cnglo‌
Photo by photo by Richard Warren, courtesy of the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum

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