THOMASTON — Visitors attending the Dec. 7-8 Holiday Open House at Montpelier in Thomaston experienced Christmas as enjoyed by wealthy late-18th century residents of the Midcoast.
Located on Route 131, the architecturally striking Montpelier replicates the mansion constructed by Revolutionary War hero on a bluff overlooking the St, George River. In the late 1790s Gen. Henry Knox built a 19-room mansion near the modern mansion, which is operated by the Friends of Montpelier.
A Boston bookstore owner, Knox joined the Continental Army and served as chief of artillery for George Washington. In the mid-1790s Knox moved from Philadelphia to live in his new mansion. He died in Thomaston in 1806.
Montpelier gradually deteriorated until its demolition in 1871. The Knox Memorial Association started building a replica mansion near the original mansion’s site in 1929; that replica has stood near Route 1 for more than 80 years while providing a dramatic scene for motorists northbound on the highway.
The Friends of Montpelier took over management of Montpelier from the state government in 1999. The mansion is open for public tours each Thursday and Friday from late May to mid-October and during special events, including the Holiday Open House.
Period decorations adorned the basement kitchen and the various family and public rooms on the mansion’s “Salon Level” (first floor); the “Chamber Level” (second floor) was closed to the public. Charging no admission, the Friends of Montpelier encouraged visitors to donate canned goods for the Thomaston Food Pantry.
Visitors toured the various rooms, including the dining room and “withdrawing room,” and munched on holiday refreshments. Entertainment included several musical groups and performers, and on Dec. 7 museum volunteers Mary Kay Felton and Harry Grant led visitors in a cappella Christmas caroling in the Oval Room on the first floor. In the original Montpelier, this room was accessed by visitors climbing the stairs rising from the front lawn.
For more information about Montpelier, log onto knoxmuseum.org.