A Late Historical Christmas Tour in Auburn, New York

PC: Beyond My Ken

Rachel Spinella
Features Editor

On December 21 of 2018, an event took place at the William Seward House in Auburn, New York. Seward has been known throughout history for being President Abraham Lincoln’s right hand man, abolitionist, supporter of women’s rights and friend of Harriet Tubman. He resided at the Seward House in Auburn with his family.

Usually the Seward House is reserved for more historical tours, but due to the event taking place so close to Christmas; the staff had incorporated the holiday into the tour. Not only did many people arrive for the event, but leaving from an earlier tour, the retired senator DeFrancisco of New York was seen leaving the Seward House.

Upon entering the Seward House, guests found themselves taken back in time to get a sense of what life had been like during the early or mid-1800s. The entire house was lit by the light of candles, while the actors, who were dressed in 1800s attire; portrayed William Seward’s family and servants. The house itself was rather festive with a Christmas tree and many decorations. A banister hung on the railing of the grand staircase from the bottom to the top.

The first person that the audience gets to interact with is an actress portraying Seward’s wife Frances, then the son Frederick, the groom who tended to horses and the daughter Fannie. Each actor would interact with the audience but stay in character, and state some facts about the person that they were portraying while still incorporating Christmas into the tour.

According to the actress enacting Frances Seward, she only ever saw her husband seven times over the course of a few years as he tended to spend most of his time in Washington, DC working with President Lincoln.

Upstairs, the walls were filled with photographs of many historically famous people that Seward himself had met in his lifetime. Upstairs there were also two rooms, where two members of his family would stay such as his sister and his daughter in law, who was married to his second son that had been drafted into the army.

When asking the actress portraying Seward’s sister how people would sleep in such a small beds in length, she answered that people mostly tended to sleep sitting up rather than lying down.

Not only was Seward constantly traveling to and from his home to Washington, but he would also make other trips across the sea to Europe and many other places as well. He was a big collector amongst his travels and had many different souvenirs and antiques from his expeditions.

Towards the end of the event, the esteemed William Seward (actor) makes a grand entrance having come home to his family for Christmas. And with the entire Seward family and servants of the manor they all partake in singing Christmas carols for the audience.

In an interview with a tourist, when asked what they thought of the Seward event they said, “I enjoyed the overall message, it was about family and friends. I felt a kind of peacefulness with that, that people sat together and played card games they might play the piano and gather around and talk. Christmas for them was more for a time of connecting with family and friends. And less a focus on gift giving.”  

Overall, the tour was both insightful with interesting facts as well as engaging with the tourists. If you ever visit central New York, be sure to check out William Seward’s House Tour located in Auburn, New York.



Categories: Features

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