Tonawanda News — The Benjamin Long Homestead is putting on its Christmas finery once again this season in hopes of drawing history buffs new and old to the 183-year-old building at the confluence of Tonawanda and Ellicott creeks in Tonawanda.
Carole Barnard, caretaker of the homestead at 24 E. Niagara St., Tonawanda, said the building will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 16, offering a way for visitors to see the historic home in an environment somewhat different than its usual Memorial to Labor day summer hours — instead decked out for a Victorian Christmas.
Even if that’s not exactly what it would have looked like in its heyday.
“We have to remember that when the Longs were here, it wouldn’t have been like this,” said Barnard as she showed off the largest Christmas tree in the home’s front parlor, where the first church services and Sunday School classes in the Tonawandas were held. “They were Mennonites, simple folk. If anything, it might have been a scraggly tree. This is what we believe could be done.”
For a number of years, the homestead has been decorated for the holiday season by the Garden Club of the Tonawandas. That didn’t happen this year, but members of the Historical Society of the Tonawandas were able to do the job using decorations provided by the club, Barnard said.
Pine boughs hang at the doors. From the kitchen to the dining rooms and parlors, and from the study to the upstairs bedrooms, tables and windowsills and mantles are decked with greenery and ribbons and candles — the electric kind. Decorated Christmas trees stand in many rooms, and old-fashioned Santa figures rest on desks and chairs.
“We’re so blessed to have what we have here, in the legacy of this house,” Barnard said. “The furniture is all period furniture; any of it could have been here.”