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Two ways to enjoy the holidays at Davis Mansion
Historic site shows off Christmas decorations starting Nov. 28, takes part in special tour Dec. 13

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[December 12, 2014]  BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – The David Davis Mansion State Historic Site offers two different ways to enjoy the holidays this year. The mansion will begin displaying its lavish Christmas decorations Nov. 28, and it will also be part of a special tour of Bloomington mansions on Dec. 13.

Tickets for the Dec. 13 tour – which also includes Ewing Manor and a private “mystery mansion” – are on sale now. They are $12 in advance and may be purchased at Casey’s Garden Shop, The Garlic Press, Schnucks Supermarkets, the David Davis Mansion and online at Tickets will be $15 the day of the event.

Visitors can tour the homes from 2-5 p.m. or 5-8 p.m. A shuttle will be available to carry people from mansion to mansion, where they’ll enjoy special foods, beverages, seasonal music and costumed guides.

The David Davis Mansion offers a dazzling look at Victorian-era Christmas traditions. It will feature the toys, foods and customs common in the late 1800s. New this year will be a display of Christmas gifts that were available from department stores when the ritual of “Christmas shopping” was just getting started.

Fourteen sumptuously decorated trees will grace the mansion’s rooms, each echoing a different theme of the times. A four-foot-tall “feather” tree will sport the same kinds of ornaments featured in several Christmas episodes of “Downton Abbey.”

Meanwhile, Ewing Manor – Bloomington’s only “castle” – takes visitors back to the Edwardian era in the earliest years of the 20th century. The private bedrooms and office once occupied by the Ewing family have been completely restored and will be decorated for Christmas. The Manor will be specially lighted outside during the evening.

Funds raised by the tour will benefit the two historic homes and a community charity chosen by the owner of the mystery mansion.

But people can also enjoy the David Davis Mansion decorations from the day after Thanksgiving until Dec. 31. The “Christmas at Clover Lawn” display is sponsored by the David Davis Mansion Foundation and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

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It is open for tours Wednesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. A donation of $4 for adults and $2 for children is suggested to help support the mansion and other state historic sites.
The mansion is a 36-room, late-Victorian home built by Supreme Court justice and Abraham Lincoln advisor David Davis. It was finished in 1872.

For the Dec. 13 tour, shuttle buses will transport visitors continuously to all three mansions. Visitors may begin at the Davis Mansion grounds at 1000 Monroe Drive, Bloomington, or in the St. John’s Lutheran Church parking lot, 1617 E. Emerson Street, Bloomington. Directions and maps to all three mansions will also be available at Ewing Manor and the Davis Mansion.

For more information on the event, please call the David Davis Mansion at (309) 828-1084 or visit

Ewing Cultural Center is owned and operated by Illinois State University Foundation. The David Davis Mansion State Historic Site is administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

[Chris Wills, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency]

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