Brownsville Historical Society is giving a belated present to those who missed out on the annual Christmas tours at Nemacolin Castle.
This Saturday, starting at 2 p.m., visitors can tour the still-decorated castle at 136 Front St., Brownsville for $5, instead of the typical $15 charged for tours.
“It’s a gift to the people who were upset they couldn’t come,” said Kim Brashear, a member of the historical society’s board.
The last tour group will depart at 8:30 p.m., but Brashear said if that day sells out, Sunday times will be added.
Groups will be limited to six people, and advance reservations are available on Eventbrite.com.
For many families, Brashear said, the tours are a part of their Christmas season tradition, running from the weekend after Thanksgiving until the weekend before Christmas.
Volunteers spend hundreds of hours transforming the castle’s 22 rooms with era-themed decorations, Brashear said, transporting guests into a bygone time.
This year, however, state-ordered closures across the state put a stop to the tours after just one week. It was a disappointment for those who planned to visit as well as those volunteers who spent about 300 hours decorating the castle, Brashear said.
“It’s quite a massive undertaking,” she said. “We take our time and make it polished.”
Preparations included the decoration of several Christmas trees throughout the castle, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The largest trees are in the Victorian wing of the castle, Brashear explained, because that’s where most of the celebratory activities would’ve taken place.
“A lot of our volunteers are very crafty and inventive. They make homemade ornaments and trim with garland made of paper bags,” she said.
In keeping with the times, she said, other parts of the castle, like the maid’s room, are more sparsely decorated.
The castle’s nursery is themed to “The Night Before Christmas.”
The outside castle grounds are also decorated, with period-appropriate music playing in the courtyard and inside.
The castle is the historic former home of the Bowman family, which opened a trading post at the site in 1789. The family expanded it through the 1800s into the castle. Three generations of the Bowman family lived there, and many of the items displayed belonged to the family.
The tours take between 45 and 60 minutes, and video is not allowed. Volunteers guide guests through the castle, ending with wassail (mulled apple cider with spices) and cookies, for those who would like to indulge.
In between tours, volunteers will sanitize the handrails guests use to climb the stairs in the castle, and masks are required.
When the initial tours were canceled, the historical society issued refunds to about 40 groups, Brashear said. They’re hopeful many who missed out then will book a tour for the weekend and let the magic of a belated Christmas come to life.
If Sunday tours are added, they will be announced on the BHS’s Facebook page, or on the castle’s website, nemacolincastle.net.
Brashear said walk-ups may be accepted if there is space but noted the best way to secure a tour is to register via Eventbrite.com.