The holidays are a festive time in Dexter, with wreaths and Christmas decorations prevalent just about everywhere one looks. The same can be said for Gordon Hall, a historic mansion that plays host to Christmas at the Mansion each year.
This year’s fourth annual Christmas at the Mansion, a series of events which took place Dec. 5-7, welcomed an estimated 500 people who came to witness the massive structure decked out in Yuletide cheer and helped raise money to restore the home to its original state.
The Dexter Area Historical Society & Museum, or DAHS, puts on the event annually with the help of volunteers and several local businesses who donate their own decorations and time to dress up the interior and exterior of the house in the spirit of Christmas for a few days each year.
This year, Christmas at the Mansion events included a $50 benefit, crafts for kids and adults, a Christmas Tea and an open house with an opportunity to see the inside of the mansion adorned in decorations. Santa Claus also dropped by for a visit.
We Love Dexter Staff spoke with Julie Knight, treasurer of the Dexter Area Historical Society & Museum, on Dec. 18 about Gordon Hall.
Knight said she loves the exterior of the home, especially the view of the mansion on the hilltop from Island Lake Road.
“The outside is spectacular with the big lawn in the front and all the open space,” Knight said.
According to Knight, this year’s Christmas at the Mansion raised about $10,000 in total to help with the mansion’s restoration.
“We do have one anonymous donor who has given us a $5,000 check every year for 2 years, which is a big income amount for us,” Knight said.
Knight said heating expenses will take a bite out of the money raised over the three day celebration.
“It’s like a dinosaur of a building, and it costs about $100 a day to heat that building. So, we try to condense (Christmas at the Mansion) to a long weekend to keep the heating costs down.”
Christmas at the Mansion first started in 2011, with the idea of the Christmas Tea being incorporated a year later. Knight said volunteers are to thank for making the magic happen.
“People step right up. They like and enjoy working Christmas at the Mansion,” Knight said. “Without our volunteers, we would not be successful. Hopefully we will continue to have Christmas at the Mansion.”
Knight said the DAHS has paid off the mortgage on Gordon Hall, and is now in the process of gathering money and reaching out to corporations to aid in funding for restoration efforts. Knight said restoration of the structure is expected to begin no sooner than 2017 and is estimated to cost over $3 million.
“Hopefully, once we get the renovations done, we’ll have more activities and it will be open more often for people to come.”
The interior of the home is open to the public during Dexter Daze and the Christmas Tea.
Gordon Hall has been part of the Dexter community since it was built in the early 1840s for Judge Samuel W. Dexter, who named the area, Dexter, to honor his father.
The mansion is located at 8341 Island Lake Rd. in Dexter.